The Ohio Valley Conference-leading Golden Eagles (3-1, 2-0) travel to Martin to take on the UT-Martin Skyhawks (2-1, 1-1) this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the first of three Sgt. York Trophy games this season.
Although Tech holds the overall series lead (20-10-2) and the visiting team has won the last four meetings, the Skyhawks have won five of the last eight and were last year’s winners of the Sgt. York Trophy awarded to the team with the best head-to-head record amongst the four OVC teams in Tennessee (Tech, Martin, Tennessee State, and Austin Peay).
“I said from day one that this was going to be the most exciting and competitive this league has been in my short time here,” said head coach Watson Brown. “There’s not a ‘gimme’ anywhere. That’s turning out to be true.
“It’s about who plays the best that night. Last week means nothing in this conference.”
Tech and Martin have the top two rushing offenses and rushing defenses in the OVC.
Both teams are coming off big conference wins as Tech defeated the defending champion SEMO Redhawks 38-31 and Martin upset no. 24 Murray State 48-26.
Martin’s win over Murray State was a high-powered offensive showcase. They scored the first 28 points of the contest and had two players, Tevin Barksdale and Jason McNair, rush for over 100 yards a piece and combined for five scores.
Their quarterback, Derek Carr, also threw for 255 yards and a touchdown behind an offensive line that has yet to allow a sack this season.
Tech’s win over SEMO has them on the verge of a national ranking for the first time since the preseason of 2002.
“We didn’t play like we did against EIU but it’s neat to not play as well and win against a conference champion,” Brown said. “They’re pretty good.”
The offensive output was led by senior running back Dontey Gay, who was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Week.
“Dontey’s just been a phenomenal guy for us,” Brown said of Gay.
Despite losing two fumbles, Gay found pay dirt twice while becoming the first player in Tech history to have over 100 yards both rushing and receiving. He ran for 146 yards on 22 carries and caught seven passes for 101 yards, totaling 247 all-purpose yards for the game.
Gay was quick to give credit to his offensive line saying, “We had a great push up front from the offensive line and we knew what we had to do to win the game.”
Also earning conference recognition was sophomore Cody Forbes. His 98 yards on three kickoff returns earned him Co-Special Teams Player of the Week in the OVC.
Junior quarterback Tre Lamb also had a good showing as he threw for a career-high 283 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to senior receiver Tim Benford late in the second quarter to give Tech a halftime lead.
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