Austin Peay Sports Information
Hattiesburg, MS – Austin Peay State University football team came out strong against FBS foe Southern Miss, Saturday, from M.M. Roberts Stadium but the talent and depth of the Golden Eagles proved to be too much as the Govs fell 52-6.The beginning of the contest was strikingly similar to Austin Peay’s first few drives against Mercer—the Govs struggled to move the ball early, going three-and-out on the first three drives, the last ending on a blocked punt that set Southern Miss up inside the APSU 10. Nick Mullens would scamper in from two yards out on a read option to put the Golden Eagles up early.
But the Govs would bounce back with a quick four-play, 87-yard drive of their own. A pair of Southern Miss penalties moved the Govs near midfield, and on the fourth play Taylor pump-faked to freeze the defense and found a streaking Rashaan Coleman from 44 yards out for the touchdown—Coleman’s first of the season.
That would unfortunately be the high point, as Southern Miss would hang 45 unanswered points on Austin Peay. Ito Smith answered for the Golden Eagles, taking a hand-off around the right side and scampering 75 yards for the score; he would finish the day with 135 yards on the ground and 203 all-purpose yards, including a 49-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
After the Taylor-to-Coleman hook-up, Austin Peay struggled the rest of the day in sustaining offensive momentum. The Govs tallied just 189 yards of total offense, while Southern Miss rolled to 514 yards. After tallying 70 yards offense in the first quarter, Austin Peay would add just 119 the final three quarters.
Roderick Owens was a bright spot defensively. The junior cornerback tallied four tackles, broke up two passes and picked off a Mullens offering in the second quarter, returning it 32 yards. The Govs were able to limit Mullens’ downfield looks; he finished 22-for-40 for 275 yards and three touchdown passes to Smith, D.J. Thompson (three yards) and Korey Robertson (nine).
Southern Miss also brought back an interception for a touchdown, when Kalan Reed intercepted Trey Taylor late in the third quarter and returned it 76 yards for the score. Taylor was efficient on the underneath routes offered, finishing 11-for-18 passing on the day, but the offense was able to gain just 93 yards through the air as Southern Miss took away nearly every Austin Peay look down the field.
After a solid showing on third down in the first game against Mercer (7-for-15), the Govs were unable to muster a single conversion in the first three quarters on Saturday, going 2-for-16 overall. Conversely, Southern Miss was a solid 7-for-13 on third-down opportunities.
“I think initially we came out and played pretty well on both sides and were very assignment-sound. After that, they got us in some match-ups that weren’t real good on either side of the ball. We made some big mistakes, let a punt get blocked, and once it starts heading down hill, it heads downhill pretty fast,” stated APSU Football Head coach Kirby Cannon
The next Governor road trip will be significantly shorter as Austin Peay will journey down I-24 to Nashville to face SEC foe Vanderbilt. Action at Dudley Field is scheduled for a 3:00pm start, September 12th.