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Austin Peay Governors Football heads to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Tigers in OVC Opener

 

Austin Peay vs. Tennessee State

September 15th, 2012 • 1:00pm • Nashville, TN • Hale Stadium (15,000)

Austin Peay State University GovernorsClarksville, TN – Death, taxes, political flip flops are sure things….so is a close football contest between Austin Peay State University and Tennessee State University, at least since the Governors rejoined the Ohio Valley Conference in  2007.

APSU and TSU have played five times since the Governors returned to the Ohio Vally Conference. No game has been decided by more than three points, including last year’s 37-34 Govs win. APSU has outscored TSU 153-148 in those five games, with the Govs having won the last three meetings.

Austin Peay Football. (Courtesy: Lois Jones/Austin Peay)

Austin Peay Football. (Courtesy: Lois Jones/Austin Peay)

That is the scenario when the Govs and TSU meet, 1:00pm, Saturday, in newly renovated Hale Stadium on the Tennessee State campus. In fact, the game is a historic one.  This will be the first game at Hale Stadium, alias “The Hole,” since the end of the 1998 season. It also will be APSU’s first appearance in Hale Stadium since October 26th, 1996-after the Govs left the OVC and scholarship football to play non-scholarship football.

Last season’s win was historic for Austin Peay. When Stephen Stansell booted a 35-yard field goal with 10.1 seconds left, it culminated a rally from a 27-6 deficit-that 21-point deficit was the largest overcome by the Governors in school history. The previous largest deficit was 17 points, October 28th, 1978, when the Govs rallied from a 17-0 deficit to defeat Middle Tennessee, 28-17.

As a result, it was the second straight year Stansell earned OVC Specialist of the Week honors for his work against Tennessee State.

Austin Peay State UniversitySaturday’s game will be the OVC opener for both team. APSU is 10-29 all-time in OVC openers. However, they have won their last two OVC openers, defeating EKU a year ago, 23-17, and Tennessee State, 26-23, in 2010.

In addition to being the OVC opener, it also will be the first contest in the 2012 Sergeant York Trophy series. The trophy goes to the winner of the quadrangular season football series between the four OVC member schools located in the state of Tennessee – Austin Peay, UT Martin, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech. The award is only the second traveling trophy involving more than two teams in college sports. Austin Peay has yet to win it since the series was created in 2007.

Austin Peay comes into the contest 0-2 after losing to Football Subdivision Schools (FBS) Western Kentucky, 49-10, and No. 15 Virginia Tech, 42-7. The Govs have shown the ability to run the football in each contest. In fact, senior tailback Wesley Kitts set an APSU mark two weeks ago for rushing yards (104) against an FBS school and then broke it last with 110 against Virginia Tech.

The Governors still are seeking a more representative passing game after combining for just 73 total yards in the first two games.

Defensive end Earnest Smith, the former walk-on, is coming off his career’s best performance-he recorded eight tackles, including a sack against Virginia Tech.

Tennessee State TigersTennessee State, meanwhile, comes in at 2-0, with both victories coming in classics. The Tigers defeated Jackson State last Saturday, 38-12, in the Liberty Bowl.

For Tennessee State, quarterback Michael German burst onto the scene against the Govs last season and has been one of the OVC’s best quarterbacks ever since. He has completed 31 of 56 passes for 400 yards in the early going with a pair of TDs, both going to Devin Wilson , who is averaging 24 yards per catch.

Running back Trabis Ward was named OVC co-Offensive Player of the Week this past week for his efforts against Jackson State, He rushed 22 times for 115 yards and three TDs. He has 238 yards in two weeks, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Worth Noting

APSU has won its last three meetings against Tennessee State, including last season’s 37-34 decision.

This will be opener for the 2012 Sgt. York Trophy series.

This will be the first game at Hale Stadium since the end of the 1998 season. This will be APSU’s first appearance in Hale Stadium since October 26th, 1996.

When APSU rallied from being down 27-6 last season against TSU, that 21-point deficit was the largest overcome by the Governors in school history. The previous largest deficit was 17 points, October 28th, 1978, when the Govs rallied from a 17-0 deficit to defeat Middle Tennessee, 28-17.

Austin Peay and Tennessee State have played five times since the Govs returned to the OVC. No game has been decided by more than three points, including last year’s 37-34 Govs win. APSU has outscored TSU 153-148 in those five games.

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 Frye, 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.

For a third straight week APSU will be playing a team where opposing head coaches are alums of their respective schools. Rick Christophel played for APSU (1971-74) while Rod Reed (1984-88) played for Tennessee State.

Setting The Scene

The Series: APSU trails the series 6-8
Last Meeting: October 1st, 2011; Austin Peay 26, TSU 23
Govs Game Captains: TBA

Offensive Notes

Austin Peay enters the game with a streak of scoring in 75 straight games. The last time APSU was shutout was by Drake, 54-0, September 24th, 2005.

Jake RyanAPSU 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. He was sacked just once at No. 15 Virginia Tech.

The Governors possess a restructured offensive line in 2012 after losing a trio of lost a trio of veteran starters from 2011. Although they returned 38 career starts coming into the season, only guard Chris Hartman (14 career starts) was a full-time starter at his position. In fact, senior Jacob Langston, who had 18 career starts entering the opener at Western Kentucky, made his first career start at center. Junior tackle Ben Stansfield (6) and tackle Kyle Harrison (1) had the other starts.

Wes KittsWhen 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 against Virgina Tech. The Govs’ previous best rushing mark against an FBS school was 87 yards by Ryan White against Memphis in 2011.

In his first two career starts, senior running back Wesley Kitts surpassed 100 rushing yards in each contest, including a career-best 110 against Virginia Tech. His previous career best was 107 yards against Cumberland, September 10th, 2010.

Devin StarkWide receiver Devin Stark was named preseason second-team All-America offense by the FCS Senior Bowl. Stark also was named to the 2012 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List for FCS receivers. In addition, he was selected preaseason All-OVC by website College Sports Madness while senior tight end Ashlon Adams was named third team.

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.

Terrence OliverSenior wide receiver Devin Stark’s four receptions against Virginia Tech, his career total reached 81, putting in a 10th-place tie all-time in receptions with Daniel Herndon.

Despite a rough start completion-wise, senior quarterback Jake Ryan is now third all time in both passing attempts (623) and completions (300).

Running 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.

O.C. BrownSenior wide receiver Devin Stark had 53 catches a year ago, but the next closest returning receiver as far as catches are concerned was junior Terrence Oliver–now a running back, who had 15. Sophomore Jamaar Embry had 11 catches as a freshman.

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.

Devin Stark enters this weekend needing just six yards receiving for 1,000 yards for his career.

Defensive Notes

Earnest SmithAlthough 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. Dillard is currently out with a leg injury.

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.

Johnathan ShulerSophomore free safety Johnathan Shuler led the Governors in tackles against Virginia Tech with nine, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

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, senior safety Antwaun Majors has had 80 or more tackles in each of the last two seasons, finishing with 84 tackles in 2010 and 88 in 2011.

Strong safety Antwaun Majors picked up where he left off a year ago by being credited with a team-high 10 tackles against Western Kentucky. He also had the Govs’ only sack.

Antwaun MajorsSenior 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.

Junior 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.

After playing two seasons as a defensive end, Iosua Siliva, of Vailoa, America Samoa, has shifted over to defensive tackle.


Special Teams

Senior kicker Stephen Stansell likes kicking against Tennessee State. A year after earning OVC Specialist of the Week and College Football Performance Awards Place-Kicker Co-Performer of the Week after a four field-goal performance against Tennessee State in 2010, he earned the OVC award again by connecting on three field goals against the Tigers in 2011, including game winner with 3:07 left.

Stephen StansellA 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.

Stephen Stansell enters the game needing just two field goals made to pass Tom McMillan (33) to become the school’s all-time leader in that category.

Stansell also is ranked third all-time in point-aftertouchdowns made with 73.

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 72 of 74 (97.3 percent) in extrapoint attempts, ranking No. 1 in career extra-point percentage.

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.

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, averaging 5.0 yards per return.


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