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Tigers try to ground Skyhawks in final regular season game


Courtesy: Tennessee State Sports Information  
Release: 11/14/2012
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Courtesy: Sam Jordan / TSU Athletics
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Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State and UT Martin are playing for a potential at-large berth to the Division I Football Championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Martin, Tenn.

A win by TSU would give it nine Division I victories, while a win by UT Martin would give it eight Division I wins, including a victory over FBS Memphis. TSU is hoping for its first playoff berth since 1999 while UT Martin is looking for its first playoff appearance since making its lone appearance in 2006. The game is also part of the Sgt. York Trophy series in which TSU has already clinched at least a share of the title; UTM can gain a share, although TSU will keep the actual trophy, with a win.

Tennessee State, ranked No. 23 in this week’s Sports Network poll, is fresh coming off its bye week and will go on the road for its final regular season game. In its last game two weeks ago Tennessee State held a 28-27 lead at the end of the third quarter but saw Murray State score 22 unanswered points on its way to the 49-28 victory. Running back Trabis Ward rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown in the loss. In the process Ward moved past Javarris Williams (2006) for the third most rushing yards in TSU single-season history (1,316). Ward currently ranks eighth nationally in rushing (131.6 yards/game) and has scored 15 touchdowns.

Sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard had another big game, hauling in seven passes for 115 yards. Leonard currently has 44 catches for 643 yards on the season. Quarterback Michael German passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 22 yards and an additional score in the game. Playing without sophomore defensive back Steven Godbolt III, who ranks second in the FCS in interceptions/game), TSU turned to sophomore Daniel Fitzpatrick who had a game-high 10 solo tackles, broke-up a pass and had a sack.

UT Martin saw its four-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday in overtime at Tennessee Tech when a botched extra point gave the Golden Eagles a one-point victory. The Skyhawks handled 31-17 entering the fourth quarter only to fall behind 38-31 with 1:10 to play after Tech scored on a 79-yard touchdown pass. But UTM quarterback Derek Carr threw a 46-yard Hail Mary pass that bounced off two TTU players before landing in the arms to Chris Thompson to tie the game. After the Golden Eagles scored to open the extra period UT Martin faced a 4th and 16 before Carr found OVC Newcomer of the Week Jeremy Butler for a touchdown. That play was right before the Skyhawks fumbled the extra point snap, ending the game.

Butler finished the game with 13 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns; over the past four games Butler has caught 35 passes for 438 yards and seven touchdowns. Carr finished the game 35-of-52 for 422 yards and four touchdowns; he has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions over his last two games. Carr ranks seventh nationally in passing yards/game (300.0) and in points responsible for (17.4/game). His 66 career touchdowns passes currently ranks third in OVC history while his 8,152 passing yards is fifth in OVC history. Ben Johnson had 13 tackles in the loss and continues to lead the OVC and rank fourth nationally in tackles/game (12.3).

Tennessee State holds a 14-7 advantage in the all-time series, including a five-point victory a season ago,
although UTM has won four of the last six overall, In that game UT Martin held a 17-14 halftime advantage before TSU scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter. Michael German threw for three touchdowns and Trabis Ward ran for 180 yards and two scores for the Tigers. The Skyhawks were led by Derek Carr who threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns.


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