UTM Football Claims 10th Sgt. York Trophy
The University of Tennessee at Martin football team put a check mark next to one of its season goals on Saturday afternoon by securing yet another Sgt. York Trophy after picking up a 20-3 road victory at Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee State.
The Skyhawks (6-4, 4-0 OVC) remained unbeaten in OVC play behind a dominating defensive performance which featured two interceptions, a blocked field goal and a season-low three points allowed. UT Martin is now in control of its own destiny heading into the final week of the season as a win against Eastern Illinois will clinch at least a share of the OVC regular season championship.
The victory also clinched UT Martin its 10th Sgt. York Trophy after going 2-0 in the annual series against fellow competitors Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech to win the in-state bragging rights. The Skyhawks have now won outright or shared the traveling trophy in 10 of the last 13 years – including in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
UT Martin scored on its first offensive drive of the game while also adding a defensive touchdown on a 39-yard interception return by graduate safety Ty Woods to give the Skyhawks a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. From there the Skyhawk defense anchored down to block a field goal, limit TSU to just 235 yards of total offense and tally eight tackles for loss in the contest. The Tigers did get on the board with a field goal as time expired in the first half before being held scoreless in the second half. The visitors later added a little insurance on a quarterback keeper by Dresser Winn early in the fourth quarter to effectively put the game out of reach.
A balanced defensive unit kept the Tigers at bay throughout the contest, holding the home squad to just 11 first downs and out of the endzone. Graduate safety Deven Sims paced the team with six tackles on the afternoon while junior defensive tackle Jay Rogers had two tackles for loss – including a nine-yard sack. Woods added five tackles and a TFL in the win along with his pick six while Aaron Webb also tallied an interception – the first of his Skyhawk career. Graduate jack TJ Neal had a big day with two tackles for loss and a sack while Daylan Dotson also got to the quarterback for a 14-yard sack late in the game with the Tigers in Skyhawk territory.
On offense, the Skyhawks racked up 365 yards of total offense in the win while recording a pair of touchdowns. UT Martin got on the board first as Dresser Winn threw his 17th touchdown of the season to Colton Dowell for a 14-yard score. The touchdown reception marked the 18th of Dowell’s career to move him into a tie for third place in program history. Winn also used his legs for a touchdown, keeping it himself for a one-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. For the day, Winn completed 16-of-28 pass attempts for 182 yards and two total touchdowns.
The running back tandem of Zak Wallace and Sam Franklin also had a nice day. Wallace racked up 115 yards on the ground for his eighth career 100-yard rushing performance. Franklin also equaled Wallace’s 21 carries in his first career start while accumulating 81 yards on the ground.
UT Martin will now turn its attention to an OVC championship opportunity when playing host to Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 19 in the team’s regular season finale. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. with Senior Day festivities slated to get underway prior to kickoff.