» ByANTHONY SHINGLER – ashingler@my.apsu.edu

Off to their best start in the Ohio Valley Conference since 1977, the Govs football team traveled to play UT Martin at Hardy M. Graham Stadium Saturday, Oct. 8.

However, UT Martin had other plans besides letting the Govs continue to a 3-0 start.

The Govs were left stunned on the ground as the Skyhawks soared to a 61-23 victory.

The loss drops the Govs to 2-1 in the OVC (2-3 Overall) and places them third in the conference, ahead of UT Martin (3-2 overall; 2-2 OVC).

Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech top the conference ranks with 3-0 OVC records. The loss also puts the Govs at a 1-1 mark for the Sergeant York Trophy.

“I thought in the first half, offensively we did okay, but defensively, they ran the ball; they threw the ball. When you can have a combination of those things, it’s tough to play defense. I don’t care who you are,” said head coach Rick Christophel

The Govs took a 14-13 lead with 5:42 left in the second quarter when junior quarterback Jake Ryan threw a 15-yard strike to senior wide receiver Scott for the touchdown. After that, the game changed.

UT Martin scored 41 unanswered points. It started with 21 points in the last five minutes of the first half with help from two Govs turnovers. The offensive spree continued in the second half as the Skyhawks swooped in and dropped 20 more points on the still reeling Govs.

The Govs offense found some more life when Ryan capped off an eight-play, 63-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Kamron Johnson. However, that would be their last score of the game.

UT Martin’s quarterback, Derek Carr, then put the finishing touches on the rout with a nine-yard pass to DJ McNeil for the final score of 61-23 with 12:43 left in the fourth quarter.

Carr completed 24-of-36 passes for 387 yards and a school-record six touchdowns. UT Martin finished with 552 yards of total offense, while the Govs finished with 317 yards.

Kenny Jones led UT Martin with seven catches for 127 yards and two scores.

Ryan completed 18-of-32 passes for 193 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Thomas finished with five catches for 64 yards and one touchdown.

“We’ve got to go back to work,” Christophel said. “It’s a tough road, a tough conference, a physical conference. I don’t think the kids quit, I just think we didn’t do a very good job.”

The Govs return to action at home 6 P.M. Saturday, Oct. 15, against Jacksonville State. TAS