|Tech makes good on last chance to silence UTM |
|Posted: Monday, October 3, 2011 7:01 pm |
|By KEVIN WEAKS |
UT Martin did not take advantage of enough opportunities in the first half and then gave Tennessee Tech too many in the second.
As a result, Tech is still in the driver’s seat in the Ohio Valley Conference race, while the Skyhawks are looking for a way to get back on the road.
Tennessee Tech scored with 1:25 to play in the game, driving 78 yards on a penalty-aided game-winning drive for a 34-31 win Saturday night at Graham Stadium in Martin.
Tech improves to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference, while UTM is now 2-2 and 1-2. TTU is tied with Jacksonville State for the top spot, JSU also 3-0 in the league following a 38-30 win over Murray State.
“We didn’t keep our composure at the end of the game, and we didn’t deserve to win,” UTM head coach Jason Simpson said through the sports information office following the game.
Simpson was upset with the officiating throughout the final sequence of plays that ultimately led to Tech’s go-ahead score and loudly expressed his displeasure to the ref crew during play and then after the game.
UTM was guilty of 13 penalties for 142 yards, two for 30 yards coming in the final three minutes.
Zack Ziegler flashed open on the right side of the end zone for a scrambling Tre Lamb on the game-winning 14-yard scoring play.
It was the sixth lead change in a game marked by momentum swings and opportunities, both taken and missed.
After missing several opportunities throughout the first half, UT Martin took advantage of one last chance before halftime and one big break immediately after.
UTM scored a touchdown with 24 seconds left in the second quarter and another 30 seconds into the third period to turn a 13-10 deficit into a 24-13 lead.
Despite missing two field goals, the Skyhawks grabbed a 17-13 halftime lead when Stephen Shriver caught a 17-yard pass from Carr over the middle with 17 seconds remaining in the first half.
That drive marked the sixth time UTM drove inside the Tech 30-yard-line.
UTM settled for a TD and field goal while missing two other field goals and turning the ball over on downs on the previous five trips.
Kicking to begin the second half, UTM got a break when Cody Sandlin’s kick to Tech’s 20 bounced backward four yards and was recovered by the Skyhawks. UTM then went 24 yards in three plays, a 17-yard pass from Jason McNair to Carr putting the UTM on the Tech three and then Tevin Barksdale going the rest of the way at 14:30 of the third to extend the Skyhawks’ lead to 24-13.
TTU pulled close with defense on a Corey Watson pick-six of 28 yards at 4:27 of the third and then went ahead on a one-yard run by Lamb at 13:13 of the fourth, going up 27-24.
UTM quickly went back in front, though, at 31-27 as Barksdale finished a 70-yard drive with a two-yard run at 10:16.
The Skyhawks then flirted with disaster several times before finally being done in.
UTM was flagged for pass interference on a failed 3rd-and-11 try but survived when Tech later punted. Then, the Skyhawks overcame a personal foul that erased a sack for six yards when lineman Darrin Nalls intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles broke through on their third time with a 78-yard drive that included a a 16-yard run by Lamb, a 25-yard carry by Dontey Gay immediately following the pass interference that wiped off Fred Flenorl’s pick-off in front of the UTM bench and yet another interference on a Lamb throw into the end zone.
Jake McIntosh’s interception at the Tech 49 on a Derek Carr pass over the middle ended the Skyhawks’ last-ditch effort to win.
EXTRA POINTS: The visiting team has now won each of the last six meetings between the two schools. … Tech now leads the series, 21-10-2 all-time. … Carr, so good in the Skyhawks’ dominant win over Murray State just over a week earlier, was a little off all night, finishing 13-of-31 for 184 yards and just one touchdown to three interceptions. … Austin Peay, a 37-34 winner over Tennessee State, and Tennessee Tech are 1-0 in Sgt. York Trophy games. Published in The Messenger 10.3.11