The UT Martin football team remains unbeaten in OVC play after a 27-18 victory over Eastern Illinois Saturday.
The Skyhawks (5-2, 4-0 OVC) had to gut out a victory behind three timely interceptions and a pair of clutch field goals in the fourth quarter by Ryan Courtright to seal the team’s fourth consecutive victory.
UTM was outgained offensively 356 to 241 but capitalized on its opportunities by scoring in every phase of the game. Additionally, head coach Jason Simpson tied the all-time wins mark in program history with UT Martin Hall of Famer Bob Carroll by tallying his 85th career victories.
UTM limited Eastern Illinois to just 69 rushing yards, ranking as the fourth consecutive game and fifth time this season that the Skyhawks have held their opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards in a contest. Additionally, the Skyhawks forced three turnovers, all courtesy of interceptions while tallying a program-record 16 quarterback hurries.
Quarterback John Bachus III completed 8-of-20 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Terry Williams and Davin Dyal both tallied touchdown receptions for the Skyhawks, combining for 67 yards on five catches. Junior running back Peyton Logan continued his strong campaign with his fifth 100-yard rushing performance of the season with 20 carries for 109 yards.
Defensively the Skyhawks were paced by senior linebacker TJ Jefferson with nine tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries. The trio of D’Carrious Stephens (pick-six), Takeem Young and JaQuez Akins also notched interceptions in the contest while Korbin Harmon tallied a forced fumble on a sack.
UT Martin would fall behind early as Eastern Illinois struck first less than five minutes into the game on a 51-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown before adding to its advantage with a successful two-point conversion. The Skyhawks would get back on track with a pair of scoring drives to highlight the first quarter highlighted by a 21-yard touchdown reception by Williams followed by a 26-yard interception return by Stephens to give the home team its first lead of the contest.
The Panthers would cut into the margin with a 31-yard field goal to close out the first quarter while a touchdown strike from Bachus to Dyal in the second quarter capped off the game’s scoring summary until the fourth quarter. In the fourth, it was Courtright who put the game away for the Skyhawks by booting a 32-yard field goal before a touchdown by Isaiah Hill midway through the period brought the contest within six points. Needing a bit of insurance, Courtright would boot a career-long 46-yard field goal to push the lead out to nine points and seal the victory.
UT Martin returns to action with a road matchup at OVC foe Southeast Missouri on Saturday, October 26.