APSU Sports Information: APSU Football
Clarksville, TN – Stephen Stansell booted a 35-yard field goal with 10.1 seconds left to culminate Austin Peay State University’s rally from a 21-point deficit as it defeated Tennessee State, 37-34, in Ohio Valley Conference football action, Saturday night, at Governors Stadium.
The victory evened the Governors record at 2-2, but more importantly provided them a 2-0 OVC start for the first time since the 1977 season-the same season APSU won its only league title.Tennessee State lost for the fourth straight time, falling to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the OVC.
The winning scoring drive came after free safety Antwaun Majors, the reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Week, forced a fumble by TSU wide receiver Devin Wilson at the Tigers’ 47-yard line that was recovered by Govs strong safety Amius Smith with 2:21 left in the game.
The Governors quickly moved into scoring range when junior quarterback Jake Ryan connected with his favorite target, junior wideout Devin Stark, for a 17-yard gain to the TSU 30. The play moved Ryan to 314 passing yards on the day-his first 300-yard passing day as a Gov.
On the very next play White was tackled by his facemask , with the ensuing 15-yard penalty moving the ball to the visitors’ 18-yard line with 1:18 remaining.
From there the Govs used the remaining time to set up the game-winning field goal. With the ball lined up at midfield, Stansell, who entered the game with three straight misses, connected on his third straight field goal of this game, sailing right down the middle between the uprights.
It was Austin Peay’s third straight victory in the series. In fact, since the series resumed in 2007, all five games have been settled by three points or less. It also was APSU’s initial 2011 win in the Sergeant York Trophy Series.
Tennessee State certainly didn’t look like a team reeling from a losing streak, especially in the first half. The Tigers dominated the half, with Weldon Garlington returning the opening kickoff 100-yards for a score.
APSU could only respond with a Stansell field goal before another long play, a 67-yard pass from Mike German to Travis James, set up the game’s second TD, this an 11-yard scoring strike from German to former TSU quarterback Calvin McNairl.
Again, the Govs could only respond with a field goal, a 23 yarder by Stansell with 5:33 left in the second quarter, to cut the deficit to 14-6. But TSU came right back with a field goal of its own, a 28 yarder by Jamin Godfrey. At first period’s end TSU had rolled up 131 yards in total offense, with APSU just 70.
In the second quarter it appeared the Tigers were ready to put the game out of reach, with Wilson hauling in a 25-yard TD strike from German, who completed 13-of-14 first-half passes for 187 yards and two TDs. German entered the game an untidy 16 of 42 (38.1 percent) passing.
Then when Austin Peay failed to convert a fake punt from near midfield with 8:55 left in the half, TSU made it five straight possessions with a score when Godfrey connected on a 27-yard field goal for a 27-6 advantage.
But it was the Tigers’ sixth and final possession of the first half that proved to be the turning point. After the Govs were forced to punt with less than a minute left in the half, Ben Campbell dropped the ball down to the TSU one-yard line. The Tigers were intent on running out the clock, but the Govs were intent on stopping the clock in search for a turnover. On a second-down play, Jeremy Perry rushed up the middle, only to have the stripped from his arms by defensive tackle Skyler Springfield, with linebacker Zac Burkhart falling on it at the TSU four-yard line.
On the very next play, Ryan hooked up with Stark for a TD, cutting the halftime deficit to 27-13 and giving APSU new life.
The Govs carried that momentum from intermission. On the Govs’ first second-half possession Ryan hooked up with freshman wide receiver Darryl Clack for a 72-yard TD. All of a sudden, it was a seven-point, 27-20, contest.
Tennessee State, however, bounced right back, driving 74 yards on 12 plays, with Trabis Ward rushing three yards for a score to give the Tigers a 34-20 lead.
But that would be the Tigers final score. In fact, the visitors, who scored on their first five possessions, failed to score on their final five, including a missed 41-yard field goal attempt.
After that missed field goal, the Govs marched 76 yards in seven plays, with a 22-yard Ryan-to-Ashlon Adams pass helping key the drive. It was culminated with Ryan White spinning and breaking free for a 21-yard TD run, again making it a seven-point game, 34-27.
The Govs had a drive stall early in the fourth quarter at the TSU 39 before the Tigers were forced to punt as well, with the Govs taking over at their own 49 after a Tigers’ personal foul penalty.
The Govs quickly moved the ball deep into TSU territory with a 29-yard Ryan-to-Stark pass to the TSU 22. After a succession of penalties pushed the Govs back to their own 33, Ryan found freshman Jamaar Embry at the two-yard for a first-and-goal.
But TSU’s defense stiffened and seemingly halted the Govs drive on fourth down when Ryan’s pass to Scott Thomas saw the senior receiver tackled at the three-yard line. However, a roughing the passer penalty was called, giving the Governors another life.
This time on second down, junior running back Wesley Kitts went untouched into the end zone and when Stansell booted the extra point, the game was tied.
That set up the final possessions for both teams, with TSU’s fumble setting up APSU’s final score. In fact, the Governors owned a 2-0 turnover advantage against a team that had created the most turnovers in the OVC entering the game.
Stark caught seven passes for 94 yards for the Govs while Kitts ended up with 73 yards rushing on 10 carries while White had 53 on 18 carries.
Majors led the Govs with 11 tackles, including the forced fumble. Smith finished with nine tackles plus the fumble recovery.