UTM pulls away for 23-6 victory over Lions - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

UTM pulls away for 23-6 victory over Lions

From SLU Athletics

MARTIN, Tenn. – Tennessee-Martin scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 23-6 victory over Southeastern Louisiana in non-conference football action Thursday night at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.

Southeastern fell to 0-3 with the loss and avoided the shutout with a touchdown in the final minute. Tennessee-Martin (2-1) was led by two rushing touchdowns by DJ McNeil on the way to the victory.

Offensively, sophomore wide receiver Stanley Moore led the Lions with five catches for 131 yards. Senior quarterback Nathan Stanley finished the game 19-for-41 for 280 yards. Sophomore running back Jordan Wells led Southeastern on the ground with three carries for 17 yards, as the Lions again struggled on the ground with just 38 net yards rushing.

Defensively, junior linebacker Cqulin Hubert and sophomore linebacker Kaleb Muse led the Lions with 10 tackles apiece. The Southeastern defense kept the Lions in it for the second straight week, allowing Southeastern to outgain the Skyhawks, 358-352.

McNeil was part of a three-headed UTM rushing attack that accounted for 168 yards on the ground. Tevin Barksdale (23 carries, 61 yards), McNeil (18 carries, 47 yards) and Jason McNair (12 carries, 45 yards) were all effective on the ground. Derek Carr was solid through the air, throwing for 184 yards and a touchdown on 11 of 23 passing. Quentin Sims was his top receiver with four catches for 72 yards.

Defensively, UTM was led by Ben Johnson and his 12 tackles. Jett Howard had an interception for the Skyhawks, who held Southeastern to 4-of-16 on third down.

Southeastern went into the second half trailing 7-0, after both teams missed scoring opportunities in the opening 30 minutes. UTM was forced to punt on their opening drive and Southeastern made its deepest march into Skyhawk territory.

Southeastern took the ball down to the UTM 17-yard line on a drive keyed by a 41-yard screen pass from Stanley to senior running back Michael Chaney. However, junior Seth Sebastian's 35-yard field goal try sailed wide left to keep Southeastern down, 7-0.

The Lions stopped UTM on the ensuing drive three-and-out, but a roughing the punter call on junior Theo Alexander extended the drive. A 43-yard pass from Carr to Corey Jordan keyed a 13-play, 64-yard scoring drive that took 6:16 off the clock and was capped by a 33-yard field goal by Cody Sandlin to put the Skyhawks up, 10-0, with 14:08 left in the game.

After the Lions were forced to punt, a 35-yard punt return by McNair with a personal foul tacked on set up the Skyhawks on the Southeastern 40-yard line. Seven plays later, McNeil powered in for a one-yard run to put the game away. Southeastern disrupted the extra point attempt to keep the deficit at 16-0 with 9:47 left.

A 37-yard strike from Stanley to Moore highlighted the next Southeastern march into UTM territory. However, Southeastern could get no further than the UTM 17-yard line and turned the ball over on downs.

After the teams traded empty possessions, McNair highlighted a three-play scoring drive with a 39-yard run. Two plays later, Carr found Sims from five yards out to give UTM a 23-0 advantage with 2:29 remaining.

Southeastern avoided the shutout with an eight-yard throw from backup senior quarterback Brian Young to freshman Jeff Smiley with 37 seconds left, capping a nine-play, 62-yard drive. Southeastern's two point try failed keeping the deficit at 17.

The first half was a defensive struggle. After the two teams traded punts to open the game, Southeastern reached into its bag of tricks midway through the first quarter. However, junior punter Matt McCormick's fake punt attempt was thwarted by UTM, setting up the Skyhawks in Lion territory.

Southeastern held firm on the drive, however, forcing UTM to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt. Sandlin's try sailed wide right, allowing Southeastern to dodge a bullet.

A pair of throws from Stanley to Moore covered 52 yards to put Southeastern in scoring position. However, UTM's Jett Howard blocked junior Seth Sebastian's field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.

After Southeastern forced a three and out, Stanley threw an interception that Howard hauled in at the Southeastern 42-yard line to put the Skyhawks in scoring position. The Southeastern defense again held strong and this time Sandlin's 31-yard attempt missed wide left to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0.

The two teams traded punts over the next several possessions, before UTM mounted another threat. Sims was left uncovered and Carr found him for a 47-yard gain to the Lion 22-yard line. A holding penalty extended the drive after Southeastern forced an incompletion on a third-and-long. Four plays later, McNeil rolled in for a three-yard score to put UTM up, 7-0, with 2:55 left in the half. McNeil's scoring run capped a nine-play, 73-yard march that took 3:36 off the clock.

Southeastern will return home on Saturday, Sept. 22 to open Southland Conference play versus McNeese State at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. 2012 Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame inductees Donald Dykes, Kim McNally and Kendra Oney will be honored at halftime of next Saturday's game, which will be broadcast live in the Hammond area on KSLU-FM (90.9) and on the Internet at www.LionSports.net.

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