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Carr’s passing mark drives UTM to rout

Carr’s passing mark drives UTM to rout
Messenger Sports
UT Martin certainly didn’t leave any points on the field this week.
Getting a school-record performance from quarterback Derek Carr, the Skyhawks celebrated homecoming in style with a 61-23 rout of Ohio Valley Conference rival Austin Peay Saturday at Graham Stadium.
UTM rebounded from last week’s heartbreaking loss at home to Tennessee Tech, where the Skyhawks missed two field goals and misfired on several other scoring opportunities in a 34-31 loss. UTM is now 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the OVC, also improving to 1-1 in the Sgt. York Trophy race.
Peay, off to its best conference start since since its lone OVC championship season of 1977 entering the game, fell to 2-3 and 2-1.
Carr put the brakes on the Governors’ fast start with an aerial assault unexpected from a team driven by its ground game this year. Carr completed 24 of his 36 passes for for 387 yards with half of those TD tosses coming in a two-minute span late in the first half that turned a close game into a blowout.
“You don’t expect school records, but Derek will tell you that those were routine throws,” UTM head coach Jason Simpson said. “He needs to make those, and we expect him to make those.”
Carr was also quick to offer credit for his success rested with his teammates.
“The receivers made some good plays,” Carr said. “They took advantage of their DBs, and it panned out. It all starts up front, the time I have in the pocket. It just makes you a lot more comfortable when the O-line has your back. Then, the receivers have to make plays, and they’ve been making plays.”
The Skyhawks made plenty of plays, especially in a 21-point flurry at the end of the first half that sent UTM into the locker room with a 34-14 lead.
UT Martin made it look easy early on when Tevin Barksdale scored on a 28-yard run just 2:38 into the game. But, APSU actually led 14-13 by 5:42 of the second period, getting two TD passes from Jake Ryan while holding the Skyhawks to a pair of Cody Sandlin field goals (22 and 38 yards).
Carr then took the game away from the Govs.
A 51-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Jones put UTM back in front with 3:22 to play in the half, and then the Skyhawks took advantage of a short field twice to get two more scores within 22 seconds of each other as Carr found Stephen Shiver for TDs of 13 and 16 yards.
The first was set up by a Ben Johnson interception and 13-yard return, while the second followed Josh Potts’ fumble recovery on the kickoff.
“That’s the game-changer right there,” Carr said. “We were getting the ball on their side of the 50, and we capitalized on both. So that was huge. That put them in a hole, and then we came out in the second half and stomped on the pedal.”
Coming just one week after his team could not take advantage of scoring opportunities in a loss, Simpson saw the big picture in those quick scores that, for all practical purposes, put the game away.
“That was huge,” Simpson said. “We score easy but then settle for two field goals, and boom, it’s 14-13. Maybe we grew up today. Maybe we took that next step. You’re always searching for the chemistry of your team, and maybe we found it today. I think we’ve been playing on talent alone, but maybe we found the chemistry to go with it.”
UTM ran its streak of consecutive touchdowns to six with three more in the third quarter, two orchestrated by Carr and the other coming from a big play on special teams.
Carr threw a 15-yard TD pass to Quentin Sims at 10:45 and a 10-yarder to Jones at 3:18. In between, CJ Estelle broke loose for a 76-yard punt return at 5:36.
All that remained to cap off the day was a school record, which came at 12:43 of the fourth quarter as Carr found DJ McNeil for a nine-yard scoring pass.
EXTRA POINTS: Carr’s sixth TD broke the record of five set by Leonard Williams vs. Lane in 1990 and tied by Charles Gamble vs. Southern Illinois in 1994. … UTM now leads the all-time series with APSU, 33-25-2. … Both teams scored on all their chances in the “red” zone, but UTM doubled the Govs, going 6-for-6 to APSU’s 3-for-3.
Published in The Messenger 10.10.11

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