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EKU defeats Skyhawks, 28-16

By Matt Borden
On October 1, 2012

The UTM Skyhawks fell to the visiting Eastern Kentucky Colonels 28-16 at Hardy M. Graham Stadium, Saturday Sept. 29.

In what became a thrilling OVC contest filled with injuries and penalties, the Colonel seniority would prove too much for UTM.

The only score in the first quarter came from Jason McNair on a 4-yard touchdown gallop. However, the extra point attempt by kicker Cody Sandlin was blocked, so the score stood at 6-0 with 7:32 remaining in the first quarter.

The biggest name on the day was wide receiver Tyrone Goard, and his first touchdown quickly came in the second quarter from quarterback T.J. Pryor on a 14-yard pass reception. With the score, EKU led 7-6 with 13:23 remaining in the second quarter.

After a tough defensive battle, UTM was able to reach the goal line with only 2:11 remaining in the half. Running back Trent Garland punched the rock in the end zone, thus making the score 13-7 at halftime.

Early in the third quarter, tragedy struck the Skyhawks, for tail back Tevin Barksdale would be knocked out of the game. As Barksdale took a sweep toward the EKU sideline, he took a monstrous blow to the head. After several minutes of delayed action, Barksdale was safely removed from the field and transported to the local hospital.

The Skyhawk defense used this tragedy as motivation. They pushed the Colonels back, and in three plays, it was 4 and 27.

Soon after, UTM's Sandlin connected on a 31-yard field goal to put the Skyhawks up 16-7 with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter.

The Colonels are known for their running game with All-American running back Matt Denham, however, EKU released an aerial beast, which would prove to be the downfall of the Skyhawks.

Not long after Sandlin's kick, Goard would score on a 25-yard reception from quarterback Jared McClain, and this was the mirror of what was to come in the remaining 15 minutes at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.

Both defenses continued to play stout ball, for there were many three and outs by both squads, however, with 8:57 remaining in the game, the beast was released.

Pryor found Goard for a 78-yard touchdown. What made this play unique was the Colonels ran it three times in a row, and UTM used the same split coverage each time. On the score, Goard outmaneuvered safety Julius McNair, and Thad Williams missed the touchdown-saving tackle.

On the Skyhawks next possession, there would be a costly fumble that gave EKU the ball near the 30-yard line. With 6:02 remaining, Pryor found Goard in the back of the end zone for a 27-yard score to put the Colonels ahead 28-16.

That would be the final, and player of the game would rightfully be awarded to Goard with 7 receptions 175 and 4 touchdowns.

Skyhawks Head Coach Jason Simpson said the game fell apart in the fourth quarter.

"The game got away from us in the fourth quarter. We were in a cover two, and we let the guy score on a 70-yard throw, and then we were in man coverage again and they beat us again. So we have to play better. We play good teams and they made us pay," Simpson said.

The Skyhawks return to action next weekend for Homecoming as they take on the Eastern Illinois Panthers. Kickoff is set for 2 pm.

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