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October 01, 20161st2nd3rd4thFinal
UT Martin16001430
Tennessee State01071734
1st Quarter
UTMTD09:44BOWE 18 Yd Pass From COOK (MERSMAN kick)
2nd Quarter
TSUTD14:54EVANS 9 Yd Run (CLARK kick)
3rd Quarter
TSUTD12:59SMITH 1 Yd Pass From BUTLER (CLARK kick)
4th Quarter
UTMTD13:48AXLINE 7 Yd Pass From COOK (MERSMAN kick)
UTMTD02:00LEE 20 Yd Pass From COOK (MERSMAN kick)
TSUTD00:18SMITH 9 Yd Pass From BUTLER (CLARK kick)
Stats at a GlanceUTMTSU
1st Downs2221
3rd Down Conversions10-125-9
4th Down Conversions1-20-0
Passing (Comp-Att)321 (28-40) 223 (17-24)
Rushing (Att)49 (26) 141 (37)
Total Yards370364
Fumbles Lost20
Late-Game Heroics Lift TSU to 34-30 Win Over UT Martin
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Late-Game Heroics Lift TSU to 34-30 Win Over UT Martin
Photo By Sam Jordan - TSU Athletics

NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State scored with 18-seconds on the clock to cap off a come from behind victory over UT Martin in front of a crowd of 10,001 at Hale Stadium on Saturday. Patrick Smith was able to out jump a defender to come down with the game winning catch in the back corner of the end zone giving the Tigers a 34-30 advantage. Defensive back Terrell Bonds secured the victory as he stepped in front of Troy Cook pass for his third interception of the season.

The win helped the Tigers remain undefeated, improving to 4-0 and 1-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Skyhawks fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in conference.

The win also moved TSU to 1-0 in the battle for the Sgt. York Trophy. It was the first loss for UTM in the trophy series since falling to TSU 29-15 in 2013. The Skyhawks are 1-1 this season as the hope to retain the honors of holding possession for the third consecutive year.

Smith finished the game with six catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Ronald Butler. The senior signal caller was productive in his first start of the season. Butler completed 17-of-24 for 223 yards and three scoring throws. The Tallahassee, Fla. product teamed up Chris Sanders-McCollum for a three yard scoring play early in the fourth quarter.

The touchdown was the lone reception for the senior wide receiver as he collected his second touchdown of the season, the eighth of his career. Five of Sanders-McCollum’s scoring plays have come from Butler over the last four seasons.

Kicker Lane Clark aided in the victory scoring 10 points on the afternoon. The junior set a new TSU record with a 54-yard field goal, as he tied for the top distance in the NCAA-FCS this season.

Clark would better himself with 7:27 remaining in the game as he booted a 57-yard field goal to extend the Tigers lead to 27-23. The kick is the longest for all levels of NCAA football this season, surpassing Rigoberto Sanchez of Hawai’i and Elliot Fry from South Carolina.

The Skyhawks opened the game by converting on a pair of third-and-longs leading to an 18-yard passing touchdown from Troy Cook to Jaimiee Bowe. UTM added to the lead on the Tigers first play from scrimmage as Ronald Butler was called for intentional grounding while in the end zone. The safety gave UT Martin a 9-0 lead five and a half minutes into the game.

UTM continued its hot start as Cook found Caylon Weathers from four yards out to extend the lead to 16-0 with 6:42 remaining in the first quarter. The Skyhawks took advantage of the good field position they received from the punt after the safety, as they needed to move just 37 yards to score.

The Tigers would make a statement on their next possession, using 12 plays to move 65 yards down the field. The Big Blue established the ground game as Erick Evans carried the ball six times for 35 yards including a nine yard blast up the middle for his fourth touchdown of the year.

The score came on the first play of the second quarter, cutting the lead to nine, 16-7. It also marked the first time this season the Tigers did not score in a quarter. TSU had scored in 18 consecutive periods dating back to Nov. 7 of last season.

The Big Blue would start its next drive at the 46 yard line after Gabe Scott pulled in his first career interception. It would be the first of five turnovers forced by the defense.

The Tigers could only manage 17 yards, which allowed Clark to record the initial record breaker. TSU pulled to within a score of the Skyhawks, 16-10, with 9:32 remaining in the first half.

After the intermission, TSU need just two minutes to take their first lead of the game. The drive opened with Butler teaming up with Steven Newbold for 22 yards and Rodney Morris for 43 more on back-to-back plays. The Morris reception would get the Tigers to the UTM one setting up the first Butler to Smith scoring play. Smith once again out leaped his defender and was able to get one foot down in the back of the end zone to move TSU ahead, 17-16.

UTM regained the lead to open the final stanza on a seven yard pass from Cook to Ben Axline. The Skyhawks found success through the air as they totaled 321 yards and converted on 10-of-12 third down plays.

The Tigers answered back on the following drive to reclaim the lead. Butler found Newbold for 23 yards to start the drive and move into Skyhawk territory. Butler would take things into his own hands to keep the drive alive as he scampered for 11 yards to the UTM 27 on a third-and-long.

On the next play, Butler was able to hit Newbold for an 18 yard gain and a first down at the nine. After a six yard run by Evans, Butler found Sanders-McCollum all alone making the score 24-23 in favor of the Tigers.

The defense stepped up again as David Kamara blitzed in from the right side of the line and sacked Cook causing a fumble. Ebenezer Ogundeko pounced on the ball giving the offense great starting position at the visitors 44.

The ensuing drive stalled after five yards, but that is all Clark would need as he connected on the NCAA leading 57-yarder. The make gave TSU a four point lead, 27-23, with just over seven minutes to play.

The Skyhawks came back with an impressive 11 play, 75 yard drive, which ate up five and a half minutes. UTM kept they drive alive with two third down conversions, as well as another on fourth down. Cook threw his fourth scoring pass of the game, this time to Londell Lee from 20 yards out with 2:00 minutes on the clock.

Trailing 30-27, Butler hit Smith for 11 yards and escaped the rush on the next play picking up ten yards to get the Tigers close to midfield. After a sack, Butler found Chris Rowland in the middle of the field. The freshman receiver broke two tackles and maneuvered his way 38 yards down the field to the 16.

TSU found themselves at the nine yard line and third and three with 24 seconds remaining on the clock. The Tigers, who totaled 364 yards on the day, picked up the final nine on the game-winner from Butler to Smith. The touchdown is the fifth of the season for the wide out and the 15th of his career.

The Tigers will continue OVC play as they travel to Charleston, Ill. to take on Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 8.

GAME NOTES: Official start time was 2:06 p.m…. Official attendance for the game was 10,001… Captains for TSU were Ronald Butler, Lane Clark, Chris Collins, Ebo Ogundeko, Thomas Burton… TSU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half… During the game, Lane Clark had the two longest field goals in TSU history. He hit a 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which was the longest in Division I this season. He also hit a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter. The previous school record was 53 yards set by Seth Goodowens versus Jackson State in 1999… Gabe Scott, Trevion Duncan and Terrell Bonds secured interceptions in the game, marking the second game in a row TSU has had multiple picks… TSU held UT Martin scoreless during the second and third quarters. TSU has shut out its opponent in eight quarters through four games this season… TSU has scored 30 in more points in all four games this season… TSU leads the all-time series with UT Martin, 16-10.

TSU Kicker Lane Clark
“We work on special teams every day. Kickoff, punt, everything. We put a lot of time and energy into it and tonight it showed.”
- On Special Teams Making an Impact

“I was nervous. It was my first time taking a big kick like that. We practice it every day. I can’t say that it felt just like practice because it was in a game, but I knew I had it in me. I knew the big guys up front were going to protect me and protect the holder and it just worked out.”
- On hitting two field goals of 50-plus yards

TSU Defensive End Ebo Ogundeko
“The coaches continue to prepare us throughout the week. We got off to a slow start and that’s happened for the last two or three weeks, and we just have to learn how to come out strong. We believe that we’re a strong team, and we just have to take it one game at a time.”
- On the win

“It was a physical game. We both understood that whoever was more physical in the trenches was going to win, and we just tried to be our best.”
- On the physicality

TSU Wide Receiver Chris Sanders-McCollum
“We just worked hard the whole game and never lost faith. It was a good team win. Everyone was all in. We got down but we didn’t look down. We just kept moving.”
- On the win

TSU Running Back Erick Evans
“It means a lot. It means they believe in me, believed in the offensive line and believed in the philosophy. We got the job done and we got the score when we needed to. It meant a lot.”
- On running the ball with a 16-0 deficit

“It’s a great 1-2 punch. I love Earl (Harrison). I love the rotation that we’ve got. When he’s in, I have total faith in what he can do to move the ball and move the offense.
- On freshman running back Earl Harrison

Post Game Wrap-Up
Senior quarterback Ronald Butler (Tallahassee, Fla.) orchestrated the two-minute drill to perfection, delivering a nine-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Smith (Memphis, Tenn.) with 18 seconds left to give the Tennessee State football team a 34-30 victory over UT Martin at Hale Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

TSU (4-0, 1-0 OVC) trailed UT Martin (2-3, 1-1 OVC) by a 30-27 margin when Butler and the offense got the ball back with 1:54 on the clock. Butler went 4-for-4 on the final drive capped by Smith’s second touchdown catch of the day. Butler finished 17-for-24 for 223 yards and three touchdowns in his first start of the season.

In UT Martin’s final drive, Terrell Bonds (Miami, Fla.) came up with his third interception of the season to seal the win. On the defensive side of the ball, Trevion Duncan (Houston, Texas) and Gabe Scott (Memphis, Tenn.) also had interceptions on the day.

Junior kicker Lane Clark (Hays, Kan.) hit the two longest field goals in TSU history. He nailed a 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which was the longest in Division I this season. He also hit a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter. The previous school record was 53 yards set by Seth Goodowens versus Jackson State in 1999.