By Todd Purvis/Sports editor
The Colonels are set to return home this weekend, when they will host OVC foe Tennessee-Martin.The Skyhawks will be coming into the game with an overall record of 2-8 and a conference record of 1-5. Last weekend, UT-Martin fell to Southeast Missouri by a margin of 20-7.
“Tennessee-Martin plays with a lot of emotion and they never give up. They are really inspirational to watch,” Head Coach Danny Hope said.
Eastern is coming into this weekend’s game after winning three of their last four outings and improving their record to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the OVC. The Colonels picked up a big win last week, when they dropped the Murray State Racers by a score of 38-20.
“Our football team is a team that has a lot of pride, we’re hungry to win and we’re gaining momentum,” Hope said.
The series between these two conference rivals dates back to 1973. The Colonels come into this game looking to keep their perfect record alive over the Skyhawks, where they are 14-0 in the series. Last season Eastern dropped UT-Martin by a score of 58-3.
Coming into Saturday’s contest, Coach Hope is looking for his seniors to step up and have a big game.
Some of the seniors to watch for on offense will be halfback Terry Ennis and tight end Mike Woolridge.
Ennis racked up 123 yards last weekend on the ground for one touchdown.
Woolridge caught one pass last week for 20 yards and one touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, the Colonel defense will be led by senior safeties Donell Allison and Pierre Wright.
Allison leads the team with 68 total tackles and one interception.
Wright is second on the team with 63 tackles and has broken up five passes on the year.
“Our seniors will step up, they should be able to smell success and lead us to it,” Hope said.
The Skyhawks are a versatile team that can run and throw the ball.
Leading the way for the Tennessee-Martin offense will be wide receivers Sanders Trent and Taure Stephens.
“They have two really good wide receivers, both of them have caught over 50 balls this year,” Hope said.
Also leading the way for the Skyhawks will be sophomore Brady Wahlberg. Wahlberg had a very good freshman season in which he completed 80 passes on 144 passes for 1,145 yards.
“They have a really good quarterback,” Hope said. “They can run the option, or they can spread you out and throw the ball.”
UT-Martin will look for help from the strong play of senior defensive end, John Gray. Gray had 35 tackles last season, one sack, one recovered fumble and a blocked kick.
“They have a really aggressive defensive front,” Hope said.
The Colonels will come out and try to work with the same game plan that they have used all season.
“We’re not going to get too far away from the basics, we’re prepared to come out and run or pass the football,” Hope said.
The Colonels will look to improve their home record to 3-1 this weekend.
“At home is where we play our best. We have an advantage when we’re at home, we have a 12th man in our fans,” Hope said. “The students have been the biggest difference maker for us in our previous home games.”
Eastern will need to come out and have a solid performance in order to pull out the victory.
“We need to secure the ball, play physical up front and eliminate mistakes in order to win the game,” Hope said. “We have a chance to keep our playoff hopes alive, and keep our conference title hopes alive with a win this weekend.”