By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
MARTIN – Tennessee Tech scored early to put pressure on No. 15-ranked UT Martin, but the homestanding Skyhawks took to the air, collecting 335 passing yards and getting five total offensive touchdowns and one more on defense to take a 45-28 victory over the Golden Eagles on Saturday.
Tech (1-3, 0-1 Ohio Valley Conference) returns to action next Saturday as the Golden Eagles travel to Cape Girardeau to take on Southeast Missouri.
The Golden Eagles marched down the field on their opening drive as Tech chewed up 75 yards on five plays, ending the drive as Heath Price caught a pass from Jeremiah Oatsvall, then worked his way up the UTM sideline and in for the 42-yard score.
After the two squads traded another possession, the Skyhawks (3-2, 2-0 OVC) showed how explosive their offense can be, using one play to go 70 yards as Dresser Wynn threw a 70-yard strike into the hands of D.J. Nelson, who stayed just ahead of the defenders and hustled into the end zone.
Before the quarter ended, UT Martin broke the 7-7 tie as Zak Wallace scored on a three-yard run following a 69-yard completion to DeVonte Tanksley from Winn. Tech tied the game early in the second quarter as David Gist had the first of his two touchdowns on the day, scoring on a 28-yard pass from Oatsvall.
Martin's strike-quick offense showed through again to break the tie as redshirt freshman Sam Franklin broke away from several tackles and powered his way for an 86-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
The Skyhawks got one more score before the end of the half as Winn connected once more to Nelson, this time a six-yard completion to end an 11-play, 83-yard series.
UTM started the second half with the ball and Tech was able to stall its initial effort, but on the Golden Eagles' next offensive series, Oatsvall was intercepted by Shaun Lewis, who returned it back 44 yards for the pick-six.
Tyler Larco added a 36-yard field goal to extend UTM's lead to 38-14.
The Golden Eagles showed some quick strike potential of their own as Oatsvall completed a 74-yard pass to tight end Hunter Barnhart, then Gist wrapped up the two-play scoring drive with a one-yard rush.
UTM was able to take away any chance of a rally as it ate up 6:22 on a 13-play drive, ending as Wallace scored on a two-yard push.
Tech added one last score with just over two minutes remaining in the contest as Lem Wash completed a touchdown pass to Brad Clark for one yard. The drive was set up as Davin Dyal recovered a muffed punt at the Skyhawk 35 to give Tech the ball back on his old stomping grounds. Dyal played for the Skyhawks before transferring to Memphis and then to Tech.
Oatsvall ended the game throwing for 256 yards on 19-of-34 passing, while his counterpart, Winn, threw for 335 yards on 21-of-34 tries.
Quinton Cross led Tech's receivers on catches with four hookups for 40 yards, while Barnhart was the yardage leader, rolling up 81 yards on two haul-ins. Nelson ended the game with 95 yards and two touchdowns on three catches.
Tech ended the game with 128 rushing yards on 30 carries, paced by O.J. Ross with 50 yards on five totes. Franklin led UTM with 94 yards and a score on five carries, while team leader Zak Wallace was held to 71 total yards and two scores on 17 carries.
Josh Reliford led Tech defensively with nine tackles, including half a stop for-loss. In addition to the interception in the contest, Lewis had 11 tackles. John Ford and Carson Evans each had nine.