Story and photo courtesy of Eastern Kentucky Athletics
MARTIN, Tenn. – The Eastern Kentucky University football team trailed host UT Martin midway through the third quarter, 16-7, before storming back for a 28-16 victory. The No. 19 Colonels now stand at 4-1 overall for the first time since 1999.
Senior wide receiver Tyrone Goard tied a program record with four touchdown receptions. His 78-yard scoring catch from fellow senior T.J. Pryor with 8:57 remaining gave EKU (4-1, 2-0 OVC) the lead for good, 21-16. Goard totaled career highs in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (175) to go along with the four scoring catches.
Pryor set a program record of his own as he moved into first place on Eastern Kentucky’s all-time passing list. The native of Louisville, Ky., now has 6,085 career passing yards thanks to his 211 yards passing and three touchdown tosses at UT Martin. Josh Greco (2004-07) had the previous Colonel record with 5,992 yards.
UT Martin (3-2, 1-1) used a couple of big plays on third downs to take a 13-7 lead into halftime. On the Skyhawks’ opening drive, Quentin Sims hauled in a 24-yard catch to move UTM deep into EKU territory. Running back Jason McNair capped the scoring drive with a four-yard run to put the Skyhawks ahead, 6-0.
Late in the second quarter on 3rd-and-5, UT Martin quarterback Derek Carr found Jeremy Butler for 62 yards down to the EKU 20-yard line. Four plays later, Trent Garland rumbled into the end zone to make the score, 13-7. EKU’s only score in the first half was a Goard 14-yard touchdown catch.
Midway through the third quarter, the Skyhawks had a 1st-and-goal situation only to see the Colonels hold UT Martin to a field goal which extended the lead to 16-7.
Eastern Kentucky’s offense finally came to life on the ensuing possession. Junior tight end Nathan Watts (29 yards) and junior wide out Ike Ariguzo (12 yards) each came away with key receptions on third down to extend the drive. Sophomore quarterback Jared McClain then found Goard in the back of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown strike to slice the deficit to just two points, 16-14.
The play of the game came two possessions later for the Colonels. Facing a 3rd-and-21, Pryor found Goard streaking down the left sideline for the 78-yard touchdown pass. Goard caught the pass in stride before beating two UTM defenders down the sideline for the score.
Eastern’s defense held UT Martin to minus-five yards on the following drive. The Skyhawk punter fumbled the snap on the punt attempt, allowing the Colonels to take over at the UTM 29-yard line. Three quick plays later, Pryor put an exclamation point on the day with a perfect 27-yard touchdown lob to Goard at the far pylon.
After the Skyhawks took the 16-7 lead, the Colonel defense held UT Martin to just 61 yards on the final five possessions. Senior linebacker Kevin Hamlin posted a season-high eight stops and a sack to pace EKU. Sophomore defensive back Brandon Stanley added a forced fumble while senior defensive back Brooklyn Fox totaled three pass break-ups.
Eastern Kentucky is on the road again next Saturday, Oct. 6 this time at Tennessee State. Game time is slated for 2 p.m.