MARTIN, Tenn. – A kick recovered by Matthew Jackson late in the third quarter allowed the Eastern Kentucky University football team to complete a 13-point comeback to defeat the University of Tennessee at Martin, 35-34, on Saturday in Martin, Tennessee.
Trailing 34-21, Daryl McCleskey Jr. found his way into the end zone with 11 seconds left in the third quarter to get the Colonels (3-3, 2-1 OVC) within one score. On the ensuing kickoff, Jackson raced down field on a traditional kickoff by Samuel Hayworth and recovered the ball at the UTM 23 yard line before any Skyhawk could field the kick.
The excellent field position set up the go-ahead touchdown. On 3rd-and-9, McCleskey took it to the house from 12 yards out to tie the game, 34-34. Hayworth’s extra-point put the visitors in front by one with 13:01 left in the game.
The Colonels’ defense forced a turnover on downs on the following UT Martin drive. On 4th-and-7, Terry Williams was stopped short of the sticks on a 6-yard reception. The Skyhawks were then forced to punt on their next possession to keep the score 35-34.
Eastern Kentucky’s offense remained on the field for the final 5:47 of the game to seal its second win in Ohio Valley Conference play. Facing a 3rd-and-11 situation with the ball still in UTM territory, Alphonso Howard rolled to the left and fired a bullet to Neiko Creamer on the sideline for 12 yards and a first down.
McCleskey finished with 74 yards and two touchdowns while L.J. Scott rumbled for 106 yards of his own, his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Howard threw for 88 yards, had one touchdown toss and one rushing score.
Cornelius Floyd had a stellar performance, recovering a fumble early in the first quarter and later intercepting Skyhawk quarterback Dresser Winn.
After UT Martin scored on its opening drive, Eastern’s offense came to life two possessions later. Howard found a wide-open Creamer for 30 yards to put the Colonels on UTM’s 11 yard line. Howard took matters into his own hands, rolling out of the pocket and grabbing an 11-yard rushing touchdown.
EKU only needed two plays on its next drive to find the end zone, as Howard threaded the needle to Alex Cabrera to take the lead.
Tre Turner forced Jaimiee Bowe to fumble on the Skyhawks’ next possession, allowing Gavin Bryant to scoop up the ball and return it 43 yards to give Eastern a 21-7 advantage.
UT Martin rattled off 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to swing the 14-point deficit to a 31-21 Skyhawk advantage at halftime.
Bryant finished with 11 tackles and a sack to go along with his fumble return for a touchdown. Creamer caught three passes for 69 yards.
Win finished the day 17-for-27 for 200 yards. He had two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
The Colonels will be back in Richmond for Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 20, against Murray State. The intra-state match-up is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
EKU improved to 25-4 all-time against Tennessee-Martin.
Alphonso Howard’s first quarter, game-tying 11-yard touchdown run was his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Howard’s first quarter, 16-yard touchdown pass was his first of the season.
Redshirt sophomore Alex Cabrera’s first quarter touchdown reception was the first of his career.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Tre Turner’s first quarter forced fumble was his first of the season.
Redshirt senior linebacker Gavin Bryant.
The interception by Leodis Moore III in the third quarter was his third pick of the season.
Daryl McCleskey’s six-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter was his fourth rushing score of the season. He added his fifth of the season on a 12-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
LJ Scott finished with 106 yards on 25 carries. It was his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.