UT-Martin smacked the University of Central Arkansas Bears in the face at the start, then blocked their attempt at an amazing comeback Saturday night at Martin, Tenn.
The Skyhawks’ J’Vontez Blackmon blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Eddie Camara on the last play of the game to clinch a 24-23 upset of the seventh-ranked Bears. Those heroics came after a risk-reward situation in which the Skyhawks gave up a safety with 35 seconds left, then watched Wynrick Smothers complete three passes in a frantic drive to the UTM 25. Camara, who had not kicked in two games in recovering from a groin injury, came in to attempt the field goal.
“It looked like No. 2 (Blackmon) just made an extra-special play,” said UCA coach Clint Conque.
It was another crushing defeat for the Bears (1-2), who led Colorado in the fourth quarter before losing last week, then found themselves behind 14-0 in the second quarter after UTM quarterback Dylan Favre, Brett’s nephew, did damage with his arm and his feet.
“Their kids wanted it for 60 minutes; our kids wanted it hard for 30 minutes,” Conque said. “We played hard to get back in it, but our kids made a lot of mistakes. We’ll learn from this, but it’s a loss.”
With the UCA offense listless, the Skyhawks put the Bears on the ropes in dominating the first half on the way to a 14-0 lead.
Favre led UTM on first-half touchdown drives of 70 yards in 10 plays and 75 in nine plays.
UCA started its comeback when Wynrick Smothers connected with Dezmin Lewis for 43 yards, leading to Willie Matthews’ 1-yard touchdown with 13:20 left in the third quarter.
A 22-yard field goal by Redditt gave UTM a 17-7 lead with 3:20 left in the third quarter. The Bears drew within 17-14 on a 12-yard pass from Smothers to Dixon with six seconds left in the third quarter. Favre then rallied the Skyhawks to a 68-yard drive in nine plays, passing 24 yards to Jeremy Butler for a 24-14 lead with 6:53 left.
A 42-yard pass from Smothers to Damien Watts made it 24-21 with 5:33 left. A late UCA drive was stopped by Leon Carlton’s interception in the end zone, the second off Smothers, who completed 35 of 52 passes for 328 yards.
Favre was 14 of 19 for 146 yards and rushed for 78.
UCA will play Saturday at Missouri State.