Little by little, week by week, the crystal ball is coming into focus in the Ohio Valley Conference as UT Martin and Southeast Missouri both picked up wins on Oct. 1 to remain perfect in league play as the halfway point of the 2022 season looms on the horizon.
UT Martin, which currently leads the league with a 2-0 record, defeated Tennessee Tech 45-28 last weekend, while SEMO downed OVC newcomer Lindenwood 49-28 in the conference opener for the Redhawks, who are currently one-half game behind the Skyhawks in the OVC standings.
Eastern Illinois, which was idle last weekend, is also 1-0 in conference play.
The other four teams in the OVC are still in search of their first conference win over the season, while Tennessee State and Murray State, have yet to break into the win column in any game this season.
SKYHAWKS EXTENDS HOME WINNING STREAK
MARTIN, Tenn. – It’s only natural to expect a team ranked high in the national polls to operate on all cylinders throughout much of any game.
No. 15 UT Martin did just that on the way to an impressive 45-28 triumph over Tennessee Tech on Oct. 1 at Hardy M. Graham Stadium to pick up its second OVC win of the season.
It was also the ninth straight time the Skyhawks have won at home and the third year in a row UTM has won its Homecoming game
UT Martin, which racked up more than 500 yards of total offense for the third straight game, recorded 12 plays of 10 yards or more against the Golden Eagles and six of those plays covered at least 40 yards.
The visitors wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as quarterback Jeremy Oatsvall found Heath Price on a pass play that Price turned into a 42-yard scoring play to put Tennessee Tech in front 7-0 with 13:03 remaining in the first quarter.
The drive covered 75 yards in five plays and consumed just 1:57 off the clock.
UT Martin answered later in the period with the game’s first big offensive play by the Skyhawks. Dresser Winn and DJ Nelson hooked up for a 70-yard touchdown pass and Tyler Larco’s PAT kick tied the contest at 7-7 with 6:28 remaining in the first period.
The two teams traded scores over the next few minutes as Zak Wallace ran in from three yards out with nine second left to go in the quarter to put UT Martin in front 14-7. David Gist hauled in a pass from Oatsvall and turned it into a 28-yard scoring play a short time later to tie the game 14-14 with 12:53 remaining before halftime.
The Skyhawks took the lead for good when Sam Franklin outran the TTU defense for 86 yards and a touchdown with 4:02 to go before halftime to extend the UTM advantage to 21-14. Dresser and Nelson teamed up again, this time from six yards out, to push the lead to 28-14 just before halftime.
Whatever hopes Tennessee Tech had of rallying in the game began to evaporate early in the second half when Shaun Lewis intercepted a pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to extend the UTM lead to 35-14 with 11:12 to go in the third period. Tyler Larco’s 36-yard field goal a short time later put the Skyhawks in front 38-14.
TTU got a one-yard scoring run from Gist and a short one-yard pass from Lem Wash to Bradley Clark later in the game, but it was too little, too late to allow the Golden Eagles to rally.
Winn finished the game with 335 yards through the air in the game. He completed 21 of 34 passes and the two touchdowns. In addition to his 70-yard scoring bomb to Nelson, Winn also connected with DeVonte Tanksley on a 69-yard pass play in the game.
Nelson had three receptions in the game for a team-high 70 yards, while Tanksley had a team-high four catches on the day and teammate EJ Smoot added a pair of receptions for 57 yards. One of his catches covered 55 yards for the Skyhawks.
For Nelson, his receiving yards and touchdowns were both new career highs.
Franklin was the team’s leading rusher in the game. He accounted for 94 yards on just five carries, while Wallace chipped in with 71 yards on 17 carries, including a 41-yard scamper on the day.
Wallace’s two rushing touchdowns moved him into sole possession of third place on the school’s all-time list for rushing touchdowns. He now has 24 in his career.
In all, UTM tallied 523 yards of total offense on the day, with 335 of those yards coming through the air and 188 on the ground.
Oatsvall completed 19 of his 34 pass attempts for 256 yards and two touchdowns in the game as part of a 409-yard offensive display on the afternoon. O.J. Ross led the Golden Eagles with 50 yards rushing on five carries and Hunter Barnhart led the receiving corps with 81 yards on just two catches in the game.
HESS MOVES ATOP CAREER CHARTS AT SEMO
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The learning curve continues for Lindenwood as the school continues its transition into the Ohio Valley Conference as the Lions were handed another lesson on Oct. 1.
And the lesson had a name: Geno Hess.
Hess, a senior, ran for a career-high 276 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 24 Southeast Missouri to a 49-28 win over Lindenwood in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, which are separated by just 125 miles along the eastern border of Missouri.
The budding rivalry even has a name already: Game Ball Brawl. And the inaugural meeting at Hunter Field featured a game that saw both teams combine for 1,218 yards of offense and 77 points.
Hess moved atop SEMO’s career charts in total touchdowns (39) and rushing touchdowns (37) and surpassed former SEMO great Walter Smallwood in both categories.
The Redhawks, who were playing a conference game for the first time this season, were never in serious trouble after taking the first two possessions of the game and moving inside Lindenwood’s 20-yard line on both occasions before seeing its offense stall. D.C. Pippin connected on field goals of 21 and 29 yards to put SEMO on the board. His second successful kick came with 5:33 left in the opening period and put the Redhawks in front 6-0 at the time.
SEMO would never trail in the game. And the defense played a big part in that.
Lindenwood moved the ball deep into the red zone, but fumbled away an opportunity to take the lead when quarterback Cade Brister fumbled on consecutive plays. The second fumble was recovered by LaWilliam Holmes, and the SEMO offense capitalized on the play by taking the ball and driving 87 yards in nine plays.
Hess put a stamp on the impressive drive by running in from 15 yards out for his first touchdown of the game to give his team a 13-0 lead with 13:13 left to go in the second quarter.
Hess was not alone in helping fuel the Redhawks on offense. Transfer quarterback Paxton DeLaurent connected with Johnny King for a 21-yard scoring pass later in the period and SEMO tacked on a successful two-point conversion to widen its lead to 21-0 with 8:28 left to go before halftime.
Despite the large deficit, Lindenwood managed to make a game of it by scoring the next two touchdowns to close the gap.
The Lions took advantage of a roughing the kicker penalty with under three minutes before the intermission before Brister found Payton Rose on a pass play that covered 14 yards to cut the deficit to 21-7 just before halftime.
Brister later connected with Kobe Smith, this time from 19 yards away, as the Lions pulled to within 21-14 with 4:10 left in the third period.
It was all Hess and the Redhawks the rest of the way.
Hess scored on each of the next two possessions for the Redhawks. The first came on a 14-yard scamper before busting loose for an 84-yard jaunt to the house that came after Bryce Norman intercepted a Brister pass at the other end of the field and preventing the Lions from cutting into the SEMO lead.
Shamenski Rucker scored on a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter and Hess added his fourth score of the contest on a one-yard plunge to end the scoring.
Hess finished the day with 24 carries and averaged 11.5 yards per carry in the contest. His 276 yards were part of a season-high 372 yards rushing for the Redhawks. Shemenski chipped in with 74 yards on nine carries in the contest.
DeLaurent passed for 312 yards on the afternoon by completing 19 of 33 passes. His favorite target was King, who hauled in eight catches for 126 yards and the one touchdown.
The 684 yards of offense by SEMO were the second-most in a game during the school’s Division 1 era.
Brister accounted for 426 yards of offense on the afternoon for the Lions. He completed 28 of 44 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns and also topped the team in rushing with 80 yards on 16 carries. Andrew Martin was not far behind with 15 carries for 74 yards in the game.
LANE RALLY IN OT KEEPS TENNESSEE STATE WINLESS
NASHVILLE, TENN. – Several strong performances on both sides of the ball were all for naught as Lane College
edged Tennessee State 29-27 in overtime on Oct. 1 in Nashville.
Ike Brown scored on an 11-yard run and added the two-point conversion run to account for the final points of the game as the Division II Dragons stunned a partisan Hale Stadium crowd and prevent the Tigers from winning for the first time this season.
Edwin Rhodes’ two-yard run on the first possession of overtime had put the Tigers on the cusp of their first win and Kaleb Mosley’s conversion kick had put TSU in front 27-20 before Lane’s dramatic climax to the contest.
Lane had taken the early lead in the game when Jeffrey Johnson recovered a TSU fumble and returned it 21 yards to put his team in front 6-0 with 6:58 remaining in the opening quarter before TSU took the lead for the first time in the game just over three minutes later.
Chayil Garnett scampered into the end zone from 31 yards out and Mosley added the conversion as the Tigers moved in front 7-6 with 3:51 left to go in the period.
Mosley’s 35-yard field goal with 7:17 remaining in the first half extended the TSU lead to 10-6.
But this time, it was Lane’s turn to answer. And it was the defense that did it again.
Nijul Canada intercepted a pass and returned it 57 yards and Noah Shalz added the PAT kick to give the lead back to the Dragons at 13-10 with just 28 seconds remaining before the intermission.
Tennessee State wasted little time in regaining the lead when Jalen Rouse ran in from four yards out to cap the opening drive of the second half. The drive took seven plays and consumed 3:18 off the clock as the Tigers found themselves in front 20-10 at the time.
Lane’s only offensive touchdown of regulation came just before the end of the third quarter when Tarik McKinzie hit Brown for a 13-yard scoring pass with 4:44 remaining in the third period to give Lane a 20-17 advantage at the time.
The Tigers were able to force overtime when Mosley connected on a 51-yard field goal with just 14 seconds remaining in regulation.
McKinzie finished the game with 173 yards through the air after completing 15 of his 26 pass attempts on the night. Brown, meanwhile, paced the Dragons in receiving, as well as being the team’s top rusher in the contest. He caught four passes for 74 yards in the game and added 63 yards rushing after carrying the ball 16 times.
Jalen Rouse led the Tigers with an impressive 123-yard rushing performance in the game. He carried 25 times and averaged a respectable 4.4 yards every time he rushed the ball. He was part of a TSU offense that tallied a 226-yard output on the ground against the Dragons.
The Tigers were not able to generate much offense through the air in the game as three different players attempted passes in the contest. Edwin Rhodes managed to complete six of 10 passes for 68 yards in the game and Chayil Garnett added 39 yards by completing three of nine passes. Mosley also got into the act as his lone pass went for 11 yards in the game.
Zaire Thornton was the top pass catcher in the game for the Tigers with five receptions for 58 yards.
Mosley, with his nine points in the game against the Dragons, was later selected as the specialist of the week in the OVC.
K’Vaughan Pope’s nine tackles led the TSU defense which yielded just 268 yards to the Dragons. Josh Green and Terray Jones chipped in with eight and seven tackles, respectively, for the Tigers.
Eight of TSU’s total stops were for negative yardage, including three sacks.
BIG SECOND HALF PROPELS SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA PAST RACERS
HAMMOND, La. – Murray State’s bid for an upset win on the road was thwarted time and time again as No. 21-ranked Southeastern Louisiana scored 28 unanswered points, all in the final quarter of play, as the Lions pulled away for a 48-14 win over the Racers on Oct. 1 at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond.
The win improved Southeastern to 3-2 on the season, while Murray State dropped its fifth straight game to start the 2022 season.
The Lions began to put the game out of reach early in the final period when Eli Sawyer found Terrell Carter for an 18-yard scoring pass just 51 seconds into the fourth quarter to cap a 74-yard, eight-play drive and SELA pushed its lead to 27-14 at the time.
The Lions would get a pair of TD runs from Jessie Britt of nine and seven yards, and another short run of one yard from Taron Jones later in the quarter to cap the scoring spree and seal the victory.
The Racers, who trailed 17-7 at halftime, had scored on an 84-yard bomb from quarterback to Taylor Shields to pull to within 20-14 with 2:07 left to play in the third period to remain within striking distance prior to SELA’s fireworks over the final 15 minutes of play.
The Lions had jumped to a quick 14-0 lead in the game on a touchdown pass from Cephus Johnson to Gage Larvadain that covered 37 yards less than five minutes into the contest that put the hosts in the lead 7-0. Johnson later ran in from 15 yards out midway through the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-0 with 8:30 to go before halftime.
Murray State would get on the board for the first time when Stinson connected with Quindarrius Mayes on an eight-yard scoring pass with 2:44 remaining before halftime to pull the Racers to within 14-7.
Riley Callaghan connected on a 35-yard field goal 39 seconds before halftime to give the Lions their 17-7 halftime advantage. He added another, this one from 43 yards out, in the third period to push the SELA advatnage to 20-7 with 7:01 remaining in the quarter before Shields’ TD closed the gap momentarily for the Racers.
SELA quarterback Eli Sawyer, who started the game under center for the Lions, finished the night with 234 yards through the air after completing 14 of 21 passes and one touchdown. Johnson added 61 yards passing after completing seven of his nine attempts in the contest as the Lions combined for 295 yards passing against the Racers. Johnson also rushed eight times in the game for 66 yards and finished second on the team in that department behind Carlos Washington’s team-high 72 yards on 11 carries.
Gage was the favorite aerial target for the Lions. He caught eight passes for 122 yards and the one touchdown.
Stinson, the first Racer quarterback to consecutive games this season, finished the game with 292 yards on 20 of 44 passing and the two scores. The long scoring play to Shields was the third longest touchdown pass in MSU history.
Mayes finished with 107 receiving yards on just three catches, while Mayes accounted for a team-high eight catches for 108 yards in the game.
They became the first tandem to post at least 100 yards in the same game since Janawski Davis and Jeremy Harness turned the trick in 2015 against Tennessee Tech.
Damonta Witherspoon led the Racers on the ground with 74 yards on 17 carries, but the rest of the Racers were limited to minus-12 yards as SELA held a commanding 201-62 advantage in rushing.
2022 OVC Standings
|Pos||Team||W||L||Conf W||Conf L||PF||PA|
|1||Southeast Missouri State||5||1||2||0||212||144|
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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.