The race for the Ohio Valley Conference became a tad bit clearer as league leader UT Martin won for fourth time in five league encounters while Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay both posted important wins to keep their title hopes alive.
UT Martin defeated five-time defending conference champion Jacksonville State 22-17. The Skyhawks improved to 5-1 in OVC play and are 6-3 overall. JSU, meanwhile, evened its conference mark at 3-3 and fell to 6-4 on the season.
SEMO and Austin Peay are both one-half back in the league standings with 4-1 records. The Redhawks defeated Tennessee State 32-13 to move their record to 6-3 overall. The Governors also improved to 6-3 on the year with their 28-21 win in overtime against Eastern Kentucky.
Murray State (2-4, 4-6) dropped a 17-7 decision to visiting Tennessee Tech (2-3, 5-4) to virtually end what slim playoff hopes the Racers had coming into the weekend. The win by the Golden Eagles may have rekindled a playoff flame of their own.
Winless Eastern Illinois was idle on Saturday.
Marquee: Skyhawks Maintain OVC Lead
Terry Williams provided the big play for UT Martin and the Skyhawk defense stepped up in a big way in the second half as UT Martin scored a monstrous 22-17 win over perennial conference powerhouse Jacksonville State on Saturday in Martin.
The win was the 86th for coach Jason Simpson, now in his 14th year at the helm of the Skyhawk program. He surpassed the previous school record of 85 wins held by Bob Carroll.
Williams returned a JSU punt 65 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter to put the Skyhawks in front 19-14 after the two-point conversion failed. The two teams trade field goals in the final period, but the Gamecocks were unable to regain the lead. Ryan Courtright’s 18-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the game provided the final margin of victory. Bryant Wallace connected on a field goal from 37 yards away with 9:40 remaining in the game to pull the Gamecocks to within 19-17.
Quarterback John Bachus led the Skyhawks with 245 yards passing after completing 18 of his 32 throws on the day. He threw one touchdown pass to Colton Dowell from 26 yards out and added scoring run of his own when he ran in from 10 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the second quarter.
Zerrick Cooper matched Bachus’ performance with a scoring pass and rushing touchdown of his own for the Gamecocks. The JSU QB completed 16-of-36 passes for 240 yards, including a six-yard scoring toss to Michael Matthews as time expired to give the Gamecocks a 14-13 advantage at halftime. Cooper’s one-yard scamper in the first period gave JSU the early lead.
Governors Back in Title Hunt
Austin Peay put itself back in the hunt for the OVC championship with a 28-21 win in dramatic overtime fashion over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday in Richmond, Kent.
The win improved the Governors to 4-1 in the conference and 6-3 on the year, while EKU fell to 3-2 in the league and 5-4 on the season with the loss.
AP quarterback JaVaughn Craig hit Kentel Williams on the first play of the overtime session to give AP the lead. EKU was unable to challenge on its possession and went four-and-out to end the game.
Craig finished with 238 passing yards in the game after completing 21-of-35 passes. His first scoring toss went to DeAngelo Wilson in the first period and covered 49 yards to help the Governors tie the game at 7-7. Wilson finished with seven catches for 65 yards and the one score. Prince Momodu caught a short one-yard toss early in the fourth quarter. It was his lone reception of the day.
Austin Peay trailed 10-7 after the first period, took a 14-10 lead when Ahmaad Tanner ran in from one yard out with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter.
EKU responded on a nine-yard scoring run from Daryl McCleskey and a successful two-point conversion to pull to within 21-18. The Colonels tied the game at 21-21 on a 28-yard field goal by Sam Hayworth with 4:40 remaining in regulation.
Neither team managed to advance pass midfield on their final possession setting the stage for the overtime period.
McCleskey finished the game with 145 yards on 21 rushes and two touchdowns. His scoring jaunt from 12 yards out put the Colonels on the board first at 7-0 just 1:21 into the game just two plays after Quinten Floyd recovered a Craig fumble at the AP-17. EKU quarterback Parker McKinney completed 16-of-31 passes for 111 yards to pace the Colonels.
Hess, Santacaterina Propel Redhawks
The Southeast Missouri State offense was firing on all cylinders on Saturday and the defense did its part as the Redhawks kept their bid for the OVC championship alive with a 32-13 win over Tennessee State. It was the third win in a row for the Redhawks, who are now 4-1 in the conference and 6-3 on the year following the win. The Tigers fell to 1-4 in the conference and 2-7 on the season with the loss. TSU had won eight straight home games against SEMO.
Geno Hess ran for 156 yards and a pair of scores to lead the Redhawks. He scored on runs of 18 yards in the third period and added a 73-yard scamper in the final period that increased the SEMO lead to 32-7. SEMO quarterback Daniel Santacaterina passed for 271 yards after completing 21-of-33 passes. His lone touchdown pass was to standout Kristian Wilkerson for 20 yards early in the opening period. Wilkerson finished with nine receptions for 111 yards on the day. His TD catch was the 30th of his career and surpassed the previous school record of 29 held by Paul McRoberts (2012-15).
Kendrick Tiller kicked three field goals in the first half to help SEMO to a 15-0 lead at the intermission. He was successful on kicks of 33, 23 and 23 yards on the afternoon.
Cameron Rosendahl completed 17-of-26 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown for the Tigers. Chris Rowland, who tallied 100 receiving yards after hauling in seven passes, scored on a six-yard toss with just over eight minutes remaining in the game. Shawn McColley and Te’kendrick Roberson combined for 67 of the Tigers’ 83 rushing yards in the game. McColley finished with 39 yards on five carries, while Roberson chipped in with 28 yards on six totes.
Golden Eagles Overcome Early Deficit
Murray State scored early, but Tennessee Tech managed to score more often on the way to a 17-7 win over the Racers on Saturday. The triumph snapped a three-game losing streak by the Golden Eagles and improved their record to 2-3 in OVC action and 5-4 overall.
MSU, which had just a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs, saw that fade away. The Racers fell to 2-4 in the league and 4-6 on the year with the setback.
MSU got on the board first when Preston Rice connected with LaMartez Brooks from 11 yards out on the Racers’ first possession of the game. It came after Marcis Floyd picked off a Bailey Fisher pass setting the Racers up in good field position at the Tech-45. Three plays later the Racers were in front 7-0.
But from there is was virtually all Tech.
The Golden Eagle defense, which intercepted a pair of passes on the afternoon, limited Murray State to just 267 yards of total offense in the game. Meanwhile, TTU’s Fisher completed 20-of-28 passes for 206 yards and two scoring passes. He connected with David Gist on a 20-yard pass in the second quarter and hit Andrew Goldsmith from 31 yards out in the third quarter to cap the scoring on the day. The Golden Eagles got on the board on a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter by Haidar Zaidan.
Gist, sophomore, finished the day with 146 all-purpose yards, including 101 yards rushing on 22 carries. It was the first time Tech had a 100-yard rusher since Gist ran for 108 yards against Southeast Missouri last season.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.