Just moments after an embattled 66 – 59 Homecoming loss to UT-Martin (5-2, 3-1 OVC), Racer wide receiver Walter Powell sat with his hands clasped together and eyes lowered.
Consumed with anger by the stinging loss, his words were caustic and directed.
“It’s already eating me up right now,” Powell said. “When we play this next team, there is going to be hell to pay.”
Powell finished with 14 catches for 196 yards and three touchdowns, tallying his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game, en route to breaking the school record of three.
However, in the end it wasn’t enough, as UT Martin senior quarterback Derek Carr had a career night, completing 42-46 for 510 yards and seven touchdowns, four of them going to junior wide receiver Jeremy Butler.
First quarter miscues proved to be too much for the Racers to overcome, as senior quarterback Casey Brockman threw a rare pick-six on the first drive of the game.
Three drives later, down 21 – 10 late in the first quarter, senior running back Duane Brady fumbled and the Skyhawks recovered. With excellent field position, Carr’s top target, senior wide receiver Quentin Sims, went in to the endzone untouched from 22 yards out for the 28 – 10 lead.
Despite the loss, Brockman finished with eight touchdowns and 537 passing yards on the night, surpassing his own school record of seven touchdown passes in a single game and moving past quarterback Michael Proctor for all-time school passing leader.
With just four minutes left to play, the Racers got the ball back with 92 yards to go for the tying touchdown. A deep pass to Walter Powell, however, on fourth and four fell harmlessly to the turf, resulting in a turnover on downs.
“They didn’t have a safety in the deep half of the field,” Brockman said. “We checked the post to (Powell), and it was one of those things where if I make a better throw, I’m a genius and a hero, but if I don’t I’m an idiot. It’s kind of one of those things if I just make a better throw or maybe don’t check the post and come down to another player, maybe we get a completion there. But I saw what I wanted and kind of got what I wanted and their defensive back made a really great play.”
UT Martin junior running back D.J. McNeil scored on a 9-yard rush just three plays later to make it 66 – 52 with :38 left in the game, spoiling any hopes at a comeback.
Racer junior wide receiver Dontel Watkins caught a touchdown with three seconds left in the game to make it 66 – 59, but the onside attempt failed and the game was over.
Watkins, who finished with seven catches, 149 yards and one touchdown, said his favorite thing about the team was their inability to quit even when the situation is grim.
“We’ve got a lot of fight in us and we know the season is far from over,” Watkins said. “We’re still pushing to our goals and if we didn’t go out and do what we did today and just laid down and quit, then we could just hang our hats up.”
Headed into the bye week battered and bruised from a brutal opening schedule, the Racers (3-4, 2-2 OVC) have just four games remaining to make up a two-game deficit in the OVC standings and will need to finish 3 – 1 in order to secure a third-consecutive winning season.
Head Coach Chris Hatcher tipped his hat to the Skyhawk offense for an outstanding game, but said he was very proud of his team for not giving up on the game plan and charging back into the ball game.
“I’m proud of the guys; they didn’t quit,” Hatcher said. “It’s a very disappointing defeat and it’s going to be very hard to live with for two weeks, but we’re going to have to regroup and there is still a lot of ball left to be played and we’ve put ourselves in a big hole. Anything can happen, and our goal is focusing on getting better during this off week.”
The combined score of 66 – 59 broke an OVC-record for points scored in a game.
Edward Marlowe, Staff Writer