By Kyle Schwartz
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This story is courtesy of OVCSports.com
CLARKSVILLE, TN. — With its 44-14 victory over Austin Peay on Saturday, UT Martin has captured the 2015 Sgt. York Trophy Championship. The Skyhawks finished 3-0 in Sgt. York games this season to claim its second-straight and third outright title in the nine-year history of the competition.
The Sgt. York Trophy Presented by Delta Dental of Tennessee goes to the winner of the quadrangular season football series between the four OVC football-playing schools located in the state of Tennessee – Austin Peay State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Jarod Neal passed for 209 yards on Saturday, as Tennessee-Martin (4-2, 3-1) beat winless Austin Peay 44-14 to clinch the ninth annual Sergeant York Trophy for the second year in a row.
Rod Wright and Cavlon Weathers had five catches for 108 yards and seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, respectively. Trent Garland had two TD runs and Jaimee Bowe added one.
Julian Franklin rushed 16 times 102 yards and a touchdown for the Governors (0-7, 0-4).
UT Martin claimed its inaugural championship in 2010 after going 3-0 in the series that season. The Skyhawks were 2-1 in 2012 and shared the crown with Tennessee State, but lost out on the tiebreaker and did not get to take home the actual trophy. A season ago the Skyhawks were 3-0 in claiming the trophy again.
The Skyhawks are 19-8 all-time in Sgt. York Trophy games, the best among the four schools in the competition. UTM has won seven-straight Sgt. York Trophy games.
The award is only the second traveling trophy that involves more than two teams in college sports; the other is the Commander in Chief’s Trophy which has been contested between Air Force, Army and Navy annually since 1972. The award, created in 2007 by the Nashville Sports Council, is presented to the winning institution annually at the NSC’s Celebration of Champions. The event was created in 1999 and salutes amateur and professional sports in Tennessee.
The award is named in honor of Alvin C. York, the most noted Soldier of World War I. As a corporal in the 2nd battalion, 328th Infantry, in the Battle of the Meuse River-Argonne (Oct. 8, 1918), York and seven other soldiers captured 132 prisoners, was promoted to sergeant and received the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the French Legion of Honor, the Croce di Guerra of Italy and the War Medal of Montenegro. Upon his return to the United States in 1919, he was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Following the war York returned his home in Pall Mall, Tenn. (located in north central Tennessee, 55 miles northeast of Cookeville) where he dedicated his life to improving education and facilitating educational opportunities for children in the state of Tennessee. In 1927 he established the Alvin C. York Institute after spending several years raising money for the school which opened as a private institution.
That school was established, in part, to provide educational opportunities denied to the boys and girls of Fentress Country. In 1937, the Institute became a state special school after an appeal to the Tennessee State Legislature. The school, located in Jamestown, Tenn., is still in operation today.
York died on Sept. 2, 1964 and the foundation which he helped establish in 1920 – The Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation – was dormant for many years. The Foundation was re-established by Lipscomb Davis, Jr. in 1992 and is currently run by Sgt. York’s grandson Gerald (U.S. Army Colonel, Retired).
York’s papers are archived by Michael E. Birdwell, Ph.D., who is an associate professor of history at Tennessee Technological University, one of the four institutions that competes for the yearly honor.