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Austin Peay Governors Football takes on the Eastern Illinois Panthers Saturday

 

Austin Peay vs. Eastern Illinois

September 29th, 2012 • 1:30pm
Charleston, IL • O’Brien Field (10,000)
Austin Peay State University GovernorsCharleston, IL – After the past 25 years with legendary Bob Spoo leading the program, a new face is in charge of the Eastern Illinois program that will face Austin Peay, 1:30pm, Saturday. Not only is Dino Babers the new coach but he also has brought along a different offensive style.

Historically, Eastern Illinois has had superb quarterbacks, like former Walter Payton Award recipient and current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. But Babers brought an offense with him from Baylor that is reminiscent of the one run by 2011 Heisman Trophy recipient Robert Griffin III.

Austin Peay Football. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)

Austin Peay Football. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)

In other words, the offense has been put in the hands of junior quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo, who has completed 123 of 202 passes (60.9 percent) for 1374 yards and 13 TDs. He is ranked third in the nation in total offense and has thrown five single-game TD passes twice this season.

What has resulted is Eastern Illinois being the early surprise of the OVC season. The Panthers are a misleading 2-2 this season, with one of the losses coming to FBS Western Michigan and the other to No. 15 FCS-ranked Illinois State in overtime. Last week, the Panthers stunned Murray State, 50-49, in overtime.

In three games against FCS clubs, the Panthers have scored 49 points or better. In two home games this season the Panthers have amassed 99 points. They rank fourth nationally in passing offense, seventh in scoring offense and eighth in total offense.

Redshirt junior Erik Lora is leading the nation in pass receptions with 48 catches, 21 in last week’s game against Murray State to break APSU legend Red Roberts’ record (20) for receptions. His 269 yards also set the school record for single-game receiving yards.  He earned National Player of the Week honors.

As good as Lora is, it is fellow receiver Chris Wright (23 catches) who was preseason All-OVC

And as much focus centers on the passing game, Jake Walker had 102 yards rushing against the Racers last week.

That’s the daunting road task facing the Govs this week. Austin Peay enters the weekend having 37 total points in its four games, including just six in the Govs 31-6 loss against UT Martin last week.

The Govs will need not only greater offensive balance against Eastern Illinois, it will need more consistency as well. APSU has relied greatly on the rush, with senior tailback Wesley Kitts ranking 20th nationally at 105.7 yards per game.

But the Governors are ranked 111 out of 121 teams in passing. In addition, penalties have sidetracked APSU’s offense in the past two weeks. The Govs have been slapped with nearly 250 yards and 25 penalties in their two OVC losses.

Those penalties also have hampered a Govs defense that has permitted more than 30 points in each league game.

Senior kicker Stephen Stansell will look to continue building on his APSU record for field goals. He broke Tom McMillan’s mark of 34, set in 1986-89

Worth Noting

  • This is Austin Peay’s 76th season of college football, including nine non-scholarship seasons (1997-2005).
  • This is Austin Peay’s 40th Ohio Valley Conference season. The Govs are 95-179-2 alltime in OVC play.
  • After winning its first two OVC games a year ago, the Govs have now lost eight straight league contests.
  • Austin Peay enters the contest without a touchdown over the last six quarters.
  • Austin Peay has enjoyed only 18 winning seasons in 75 years of football and only two winning seasons since the turn of the century–a 7-5 mark in 2002 as a non-scholarship program and a 7-4 record in 2007 in Rick Christophel’s first season.
  • After owning a school-record 26 seniors in 2009, the Govs had half that many (13) in 2010. This season the Govs have 15.
  • Fifth-year seniors Antwaun Majors, Jake Ryan, Preston Rouse and Zac Burkhart are in graduate school after receiving their degrees either in May or August.
  • APSU head coach Rick Christophel (1971-74) was the first of three brothers who migrated from Reading, Ohio, to play quarterback at Austin Peay. Randy Christophel played quarterback at APSU from 1975-78 while Rob played the position from 1981-82.

Scouting Eastern Illinois

  • Eric Lora not only broke Red Roberts’ OVC receiving record with 21 catches against Murray State, but as well is the FCS leader in both receptions average (12.0) and yards per game (161.0). He has more receptions (48) than APSU has completions (44) this season.
  • Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo already has completed 123 of 202 passes for 1374 yards and 13 TDs.
  • Preseason All-America candidate Chris Wright has 23 catches for 310 yards and 3 TDs.
  • Sophomore middle linebacker Robert Haynes not only has a team-leading 41 tackles but two interceptions as well.
  • Defensive end Pat Werz has five tackles for loss, including two quarterback sacks.
  • Senior end Artavious Dowdell has 3.5 tackles for loss, also with two quarterback sacks.

Setting the Scene

The Series: APSU trails the series 3-9; EIU has won the last 3 games
Last Meeting: October 11th, 2011; Austin Peay 23, UT Martin 61
Govs Game Captains: TBA

APSU Offensive Notes

Austin Peay enters the game with a streak of scoring in 77 straight games. The last time APSU was shutout was by Drake, 54-0, September 24th, 2005.

APSU finished the 2011 season ranked 13th in the FCS in sacks allowed per game (1.0). It was the second straight year the Governors were ranked in the Top 15 in fewest sacks allowed per game. They were 8th in 2010. However, with a revamped offensive line in the season opener, senior quarterback Jake Ryan was pressured constantly, being sacked twice. Since then he has been sacked just twice. The Govs are ranked 24th nationally in sacks allowed so far this season.

Wes KittsSenior Wesley Kitts rushed for 118 yards against UT Martin–it was the third time in four games he had rushed for 100 yard or more. He is now ranked 20th in the nation in rushing, averaging 105.75 yards per game.

If Wesley Kitts was anything against UT Martin it was efficient. In rushing for 118 yards, Kitts had no carry longer than 15 yards and was not stopped for negative yards in any of his 23 carries.

Senior wide receiver Devin Stark has caught at least two passes in all four games this season. He has 20 receptions for 250 yards on the season. He had five catches for 64 yards against UT Martin.

Devin StarkWith a 12-yard first-quarter pass reception against Tennessee State, Devin Stark reached the 1,000-career pass reception yard mark in his career. He became only the 13th receiver in school history with 1,000 receiving yards. Stark followed up his 1,000 receiving yards with a spectacular one-handed 20-yard TD catch in the right corner of the end zone.

Senior tight end Ashlon Adams was on the receiving end of 26-yard pass in the second quarter against UT Martin. That was the longest reception of the Adams’ career.

Devin Stark finished the Tennessee State game with nine catches for a career-high 124 yards, his second career 100-yard receiving game. His previous 100-yard performance came against Memphis a year ago.

Ashlon AdamsWhen Wesley Kitts finished with 110 yards on 22 carries against Virginia Tech it made it two straight games for the senior running back with 100 yards rushing (he had 104 versus Western Kentucky). Kitts is the first APSU running back to open with two consecutive 100-yard rushing performances since Chris Fletcher opened 2007 with four straight 100-yard rushing efforts.

When Wesley Kitts rushed for 104 yards against Western Kentucky he became the first Governors to rush for more than 100 yards against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program. He then eclipsed that yardage figure with 110 yards on 22 carries at Virginia Tech.

Jake RyanJake Ryan’s 271 passing yards against Tennessee State ranked as the second most in the senior’s career. He had 314 yards against TSU in 2011.

When Robert Lemon caught four passes for 47 yards against Tennessee State it matched the total number of receptions he had a year ago. It also matched his previous career best number of receptions (UT Martin/November 6th, 2010)

Receiver-turned-running back Terrence Oliver recorded his first career TD with a 10-yard run against Virginia Tech.

Senior wide receiver Devin Stark finished 2011 with 53 receptions on the season, the most by a Gov since Lanis Frederick grabbed 77 in the 2006 season. He also had seven TD catches, most by a Govs receiver since Frederick had seven in 2006.

O.C. BrownRunning back Wesley Kitts served as the third-string backup for two seasons to Terrence Holt and Ryan White and the back up to White a year ago. He finished the 2011 season with 495 yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He owned the Govs’ longest TD run of 37 yards.

Stark was named second-team preseason All-America by the FCS Senior Bowl.

When wide receiver/running back Terrence Oliver looked up in the second quarter against Western Kentucky, good friend, former prep teammate and now roommate O.C. Brown was blocking for him. In 2009, Brown was the primary subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Undefeated” while at Manassas High School with Oliver also make appearances in the production.

APSU Defensive Notes

Although the Governors defense is more experienced in 2012, the depth chart still reveals much youth. In fact, only three seniors, safety Antwaun Majors, tackle Anthony Marion and linebacker Darrick Dillard were listed on the two-deep entering the season. Majors is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL while Dillard remains out with a a leg issue.

Over the last two games, APSU’s defense limited the opponent to 230 yards rushing, including 118 by UT Martin. The 112 yards permitted to TSU was the fewest allowed by APSU since allowing 118 to Eastern Kentucky
in 2011.

Craig SalleyA trio of sophomore defensive backs–Steve Rich, Montez Carlton and Johnathan Shuler–not only led Austin Peay in tackles against UT Martin with seven but also had interceptions

Junior linebacker Craig Salley, a former walk-on, recorded his career’s first double digit tackle performance with 11 against Tennessee State, including 10 solo stops.

Junior safety EnRiques Perry came off the bench to tally six tackles, most in the second half in replace of senior starter Antwaun Majors. He also was credited with one of the Govs sacks. Perry also had the Govs’ only sack against UT Martin.

Iosua SilivaJunior defensive tackle Iosua Siliva was credited with a career-best five tackles against TSU, all solo stops.

Junior defensive end Earnest Smith produced his career’s best performance against Virginia Tech. Smith finished with eight tackles, including a sack of All-America candidate Logan Thomas. He also was credited with another tackle for loss along with forcing a fumble.

Junior linebacker Craig Salley was credited with the Govs’ other sack of Logan Thomas while also recording eight tackles total against the Hokies.

Senior safety Antwaun Majors not only was APSU’s tackles leader (88) in 2011, but finished eighth in the OVC, averaging 8.0 per game. A former walk on, Majors had 80 or more tackles in each of the last two years, finishing with 84 tackles in 2010 and 88 in 2011.

Senior safety Antwaun Majors was named preseason first-team All-OVC by Phil Steele Magazine in its Fall 2012 Preview. Majors, who led Austin Peay in tackles last season with 88, was the Governors only first-team selection.

Reese BulmashJunior defensive lineman Reese Bulmash was named second-team preseason All- OVC by the Phil Steele publication. Bulmash again is expected to anchor the Govs’ interior defense in 2012. After gaining much experience in 2010, the Marietta, GA, native moved into the starting lineup in 2011, being credited with 21 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.

Antwaun Majors was named second-team preseason All-OVC by the website College Sports Madness. Junior linebackers Josh Carroll and Rip Rowan were named third-team preseason All-OVC.

APSU Special Teams Notes

Stephen StansellSenior placekicker Stephen Stansell became Austin Peay’s all-time leader in field goals made (34) with a pair of 35-yard field goals against UT Martin. He passed the longtime mark held by Tom McMillan, who had 33 from the 1986-89.

Stansell is ranked second all-time in point-aftertouchdowns made with 75.

Stansell was the only OVC kicker to be perfect in point-after-touchdown attempts in 2011. He ended the season 22 of 22. In his career he is 75 of 77 (97.4 percent) in extra-point attempts, ranking No. 1 in career extra-point percentage.

A strong suit of the Governors in recent years, special teams have been the Govs’ achilles heel in the early going. Western Kentucky returned a kick for a TD against the Govs and also blocked a field goal. Virginia Tech blocked a punt to set up one TD and utilized a long punt return to set up another.

Stansell has both a new holder and snapper in 2012. After Nick Newsome served as APSU’s long snapper for four seasons, the Govs have turned to redshirt sophomore Michael Dunphy in 2012. In addition, back-up kicker and long snapper Walter Spears now is serving as holder for Stansell after Jake Ryan handled much of the duties a year ago.

Ben CampbellBack at punter is sophomore Ben Campbell, who is exclusively playing the position after also being a tight end in 2011. Campbell averaged 37.6 yards per punt in 2011. He had five punts better than 50 yards. In the opener at WKU, he averaged 40.4 yards per punt. He punted nine times against Virginia Tech. He is averaging 37.6 yards per punt this season.

Two seasons after losing All-America kick return specialist Terrence Holt, APSU still is seeking a replacement for kickoff and punt returns. Freshman J.J. Rutledge showed some of those abilities at Western Kentucky. He had a 54-yard kickoff return during the night. Meanwhile, Ean Pemberton returned his first career punts against Virginia Tech.


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