It was the second week in a row that Tennessee State (5-5, 4-3) trailed double-digits, but found a way to pull out the victory. Last weekend TSU trailed by 14 to Eastern Illinois early in the fourth quarter before edging the Panthers, 18-17.
TSU took the lead with 6:34 left in the third quarter and never surrendered, despite UT Martin (5-5, 4-3) narrowing the gap on two occasions. The Skyhawks made it a 35-30 game with 2:55 left and recovered the onside kick.
However, Tennessee State used a strong defensive stand forcing a turnover on downs and earning a share of the Sgt. York Trophy for the first time since 2008. The trophy is battled out between the four OVC institutions in the state of Tennessee. If Austin Peay loses to Tennessee Tech next weekend, the Tigers will gain possession of the trophy.
The win also gave the Tigers their first winning record in the OVC since 2008.
The Tigers totaled 516 yards, reaching 500+ yards of offense for the third time this season. The offensive attack was balanced, totaling 263 passing yards and 253 rushing yards.
For the second consecutive week, tailback Trabis Ward set a career-high in rushing. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native carried the pigskin 26 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Ward also had two receptions for 20 yards.
Redshirt freshman Michael German threw for his third 250+ yard game this season. The quarterback completed 16-of-25 attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Among his throws included a 77-yard strike to Travis James.
James caught four passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, setting a new career high. Junior Devin Wilson brought in three catches for 72 yards.
Daniel Fitzpatrick led the Tigers in tackles for the fourth consecutive week. He tied a team-best nine tackles and a half tackle-for-loss. Senior linebacker Rico Council also had nine tackles and picked up 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Council is now just 5.5 TFLs away from reaching third all-time at TSU.
UTM struck first when Derek Carr connected to Quentin Sims on a 12 yard pass to put the Skyhawks up 7-0 with 10:16 left in the first.
On the kick return the Skyhawks recovered a TSU fumble to get the ball at the Tigers' nine yard-line. UTM capitalized on the mistake when Carr threw a 15-yard pass to Stephen Shiver, putting the Skyhawks up 14-0.
The Skyhawks tacked on a field goal when Cody Sandlin knocked through a 28-yard field goal at the 1:58 mark in the first quarter.
The Tigers bounced back with a six play, 74-yard drive. TSU used a flea flicker pass that resulted in 45 yards from German to Wilson. It culminated with a four-yard pass from German to James to make it a 14-7 contest with 8:30 left in the first half.
Just before the half ended, German threw a 52-yard pass to James putting the Tigers in the red-zone with just 34 seconds left. A few plays later, German finds tight end Wesley Samuels with a two-yard pass, making it 17-14 at the break.
Tennessee State took its' first lead in the game when Ward added a one-yard rushing touchdown. The redshirt sophomore accounted for 42 yards on the drive. TSU took a 21-17 advantage, taking 7:24 off the clock in the third quarter.
The offense success continued for the Tigers as German threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to James, putting the Tigers up 28-17 with 1:22 left in the third quarter. The pass gave James a new career-high breaking his previous best of 115 set against Jackson State on Sept. 10.
The Skyhawks weren't done as the quarterback Carr found Kenny Jones for a 26-yard touchdown to make it 28-24 contest with 14:13 left in the game.
TSU completed a nine play, 84-yard drive as Ward added a two-yard touchdown giving TSU the nine point edge.
It wasn't over as UTM responded with a 69-yard scoring drive. Carr completed an 11-yard pass to Corey Johnson, narrowing the deficit to 35-30. Carr finished 329 yards
UTM recovered the onside kick with 2:55 left in the game, but the Tigers regained the ball after turnover on downs to seal their fourth conference win.
Tennessee State closes out the season next weekend with Fan Appreciation and Senior Day. Kickoff with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks is slated for 2 p.m. at LP Field.
Notes: TSU won the toss and elected to receive...Linebacker John Jones returned to the starting lineup after missing last week due to an injury...Matt Moseley's 52-yard punt in the first quarter was his fifth of the season and his 13th inside the 20-yard line this year...TSU's second scoring drive of 7:24 was the second longest of the season, only behind a drive of 7:37 during last week's 18-17 win over EIU...Michael German's 77-yard pass was the second longest of his career, just three yards shy of his career-long set at Air Force on Sept. 24...TSU reached above .500 in the conference for the first time since the 2008 campaign...TSU legend and NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent was honored at halftime as the Homecoming 2011 Co-Grand Marshall.