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Slow start costly as Austin Peay Governors Football fall at Murray State, 56-24

APSU Sports Information: Austin Peay Football

Austin Peay State University GovernorsMurray, KY – Murray State returned two first-half fumbles for touchdowns in building a 26-0 lead as the Racers defeated Austin Peay State University, 56-24, Saturday afternoon at Roy Stewart Stadium in Ohio Valley Conference football action.

Austin Peay fell to 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the OVC. Murray State improved 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the OVC.

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

With Murray State taking advantage of a 25 mile-per-hour wind at its back to open the game, Austin Peay couldn’t have the contest begin any more ominously. Quarterback Landon Curtis, faking a handoff, slipped on the artificial surface for an eight-yard loss.

Wes KittsOn the very next play, Wesley Kitts gained two yards on a run right, but fumbled the ball into the ever-waiting hands of the Racers’ Qua Huzzie, who scooped it up and raced 24 yards for the score, giving the Racers a 7-0 lead just 56 seconds into the game.

Murray State continued to take advantage of the wind, stacking the line against the run and forcing four straight three-and-outs before the quarter was over.  They turned it into four field goals and a 19-0 advantage.

Jake RyanBut then the backbreaker occurred for the Govs early in the second quarter. With Jake Ryan taking over at quarterback he hit Scott Thomas across the middle and has he turned up field the ball popped out of Thomas’ grasp and into Julian Whitehead’s hands. He raced 42 yards for the score to give the Racers a 26-0 lead with 11:51 left in the second quarter.

Thomas bounced back by hauling in a 10-yard scoring pass from Ryan less than four minutes later as the Govs took advantage of the wind. But Racers’ running back Mike Harris rushed for two more scores before half’s end with APSU only able to respond with a field goal. APSU trailed 39-10 heading into intermission.

Devin StarkHarris finished with 134 yards rushing while Walter Payton Award candidate, quarterback Casey Brockman, passed for 277 yards, completing 25 of 39 passes.

Austin Peay finished with 295 yards in total offense, compared to 525 for the Racers.

Curtis finished 11 of 16 passing for 68 yards while Ryan completed 10 of 18 for 101 yards. Devin Stark, who has been mostly silent in recent weeks, finished with seven catches for 81 yards and two TDs, one from Ryan (37 yards) and the other from Curtis (10 yards).

The Copies in a Flash Player of the Game was Devin Stark.

Postgame Notes

Ryan WhiteRunning back Ryan White – who did not start and was held out the first quarter for a failure to fulfill his responsibilities as a student-athlete – was held to 92 rushing yards, ending his streak of three consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards. He finished the game with 960 rushing yards this season.

Austin Peay quarterback Landon Curtis, who drew the start, threw his first collegiate touchdown – a 10-yard completion to Devin Stark with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter. Curtis finished the game 11-of-16 passing for 69 yards.

Landon CurtisAustin Peay quarterback Jake Ryan, who missed the previous two games due to injury, entered the game with 1:13 remaining in the first quarter. He completed 10-of-18 passes for 101 yards, including two touchdowns.

Devin Stark caught seven passes for 81 yards, including two touchdown catches. He now has 47 receptions and seven touchdown receipts this season.

Despite a 20-mile per hour wind that gusted to over 30 mph, punter Ben Campbell averaged 32.7 yards per punt on seven tries, downing two inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Stephen StansellAustin Peay kicker Stephen Stansell connected on a 40-yard field goal try with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter, his third consecutive successful field goal and 10th field goal made this season. It also was his second make in eight tries from 40 or more yards.

Kick returner Sheldon Wade averaged 16.2 yards on nine kick returns (146 yards).  

Austin Peay’s offensive line did not surrender a sack for the second consecutive game and for the fourth time this season.

Ben CampbellAustin Peay’s defense surrendered 525 yards to Murray State, the third time this season it has allowed more than 500 yards (Cincinnati and UT Martin).

Austin Peay’s defense performed admirably in the first quarter, surrendering just four field goals and 75 yards of offense despite Murray State starting drives on the its own-40, the Austin Peay-30, the Austin Peay-35 and its own 40-yard line respectively.


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