Skyhawks take lead early, drop SLU to 0-3
MARTIN, Tenn. — Tennessee-Martin scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 23-6 victory over Southeastern Louisiana in nonconference action Thursday night at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.
Southeastern (0-3) avoided the shutout with a touchdown in the final minute. Tennessee-Martin (2-1) was led by DJ McNeil’s two rushing touchdowns on the way to the victory.
Wide receiver Stanley Moore led the Lions with five catches for 131 yards. Quarterback Nathan Stanley finished 19-for-41 for 280 yards. Running back Jordan Wells led SLU on the ground with three carries for 17 yards, as the Lions struggled with just 38 net yards rushing.
Linebacker Cqulin Hubert and sophomore linebacker Kaleb Muse led the Lions with 10 tackles apiece.
McNeil was part of a UTM rushing attack that accounted for 168 yards. Tevin Barksdale (23 carries, 61 yards), McNeil (18 carries, 47 yards) and Jason McNair (12 carries, 45 yards) were all effective. Derek Carr threw for 184 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-23 passing.
Quentin Sims had four catches for 72 yards.
UTM was led by Ben Johnson’s 12 tackles.
SLU went into the second half trailing 7-0 after both teams missed scoring opportunities in the opening 30 minutes. UTM was forced to punt on its opening drive, and Southeastern made its deepest march into Skyhawks territory.
Southeastern took the ball down to the UTM 17-yard line on a drive keyed by a 41-yard screen pass from Stanley to senior running back Michael Chaney. However, junior Seth Sebastian’s 35-yard field goal try sailed wide left to keep Southeastern down 7-0.
The Lions stopped UTM on the ensuing drive three-and-out, but a roughing the punter call on junior Theo Alexander extended the drive. A 43-yard pass from Carr to Corey Jordan keyed a 13-play, 64-yard scoring drive that took 6:16 off the clock and was capped by a 33-yard field goal by Cody Sandlin to put the Skyhawks up 10-0 with 14:08 left in the game.
After the Lions were forced to punt, a 35-yard punt return by McNair with a personal foul tacked on set up the Skyhawks on the Southeastern 40-yard line. Seven plays later, McNeil powered in for a 1-yard touchdown run to put the game away. Southeastern disrupted the extra point attempt to keep the deficit at 16-0 with 9:47 left.
A 37-yard strike from Stanley to Moore highlighted the next Southeastern march into UTM territory.
However, Southeastern could get no further than the UTM 17 line and turned the ball over on downs.
After the teams traded empty possessions, McNair highlighted a three-play scoring drive with a 39-yard run. Two plays later, Carr found Sims from 5 yards out to give UTM a 23-0 advantage with 2:29 remaining.
Southeastern avoided the shutout with an 8-yard throw from backup senior quarterback Brian Young to freshman Jeff Smiley with 37 seconds left, capping a nine-play, 62-yard drive. Southeastern’s two-point try failed.