Austin Peay (0-4, 0-1 OVC) vs. Eastern Illinois (0-3)
Saturday, October 4th, 2015 | 4:00pm CT
Clarksville, TN | Governors Stadium
Clarksville, TN – At long last, Austin Peay State University football team returns home to the friendly confines of Governors Stadium for a 4:00pm, Saturday, contest against Eastern Illinois.
After a three-game road swing—where Austin Peay has not won since 2010—the Govs are back in front of the home fans against a winless Eastern Illinois squad facing its first 2015 Ohio Valley Conference opponent.However, Eastern Illinois’ struggles make sense when you look at the Panthers’ early schedule—they opened with road losses at Western Illinois (which has received votes in the FCS coaches and media poll) and FBS Northwestern (ranked 17th in the Amway Coaches Poll) before giving 2014 national FCS runner-up Illinois State everything it could handle in its first contest in Charleston.
Trailing by just nine points with two minutes remaining in the first half last week at Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay’s fortunes turned when a pick-six followed by a fumble recovery deep in their own territory turned into 14 Colonel points in 1:19. The Governors never recovered in what would ultimately become a 51-13 loss, its fourth straight to Eastern Kentucky.
One bright spot from the EKU contest came in the form of the rushing game, which eclipsed the 100-yard barrier for the first time in 2015, thanks largely to freshman Kendall Morris‘ 15-carry, 75-yard performance included his first career touchdown run.
Although opponents put up 150 points in the last three contests, the Governors defense cannot be saddled with full blame. In the past three weeks, Austin Peay has incurred two interception returns for touchdowns and opponents have started 10 drives already in Governor territory.
Similar to Eastern Kentucky last week, the Governors will be facing a well-rested Eastern Illinois unit that enjoyed a bye last week; the Panthers last played on Sept. 19 in 34-31 overtime loss to fourth-ranked Illinois State.
Scouting the Eastern Illinois Panthers
Gone are the halcyon days of Jimmy Garoppolo and Erik Lora—these Panthers are a defense-oriented group that ranks in the Top-25 nationally in pass defense (25th, 181.7 yards per game) and tackles for loss (20th, 24). Dino Fanti and Kamu Grugier-Hill lead the Panthers with 3.5 tackles for loss apiece.
Offensively, diminutive Illinois transfer Devin Church has provided a spark every time he touches the ball, leading the OVC and ranking fourth in the NCAA with 193.3 all-purpose yards per game.
Last Time Out Against Eastern Illinois
Behind 159 yards passing and another 137 on the ground from Jalen Whitlow, Eastern Illinois handed Austin Peay a 63-7 loss, September 20th, 2014, in Charleston, IL. The Governors managed just eight total first downs and allowed 413 yards rushing—the 16th-largest total in FCS last season—to the Panthers.
Keep An Eye On
- The Governors have not recorded a sack in five games dating back to last season, the longest streak since Austin Peay began keeping electronic records in 1996.
- Austin Peay has just one drive of more than five plays in the first quarter this season; the Governors average first-quarter drive length has been 4.1 plays for 14.7 yards.
- Ne’er-ial assault: Austin Peay’s 7.66 yards per completion mark ranks 122nd nationally.
- The Governors five leading tacklers all line up in the Austin Peay secondary. Cornerback Roderick Owens (23 tackles) leads the way, followed by three safeties—Malik Boynton (22), Damien Whitfield (20), Devon Jones (18)—and cornerback Donovan Jackson (18).
- Austin Peay has had a punt blocked in three of four games this season. Eastern Illinois leads the OVC and is third nationally with three blocked kicks in the three games.
- Offensive upheaval: Through four games, only four offensive players—Ethan Self (guard), Trey Taylor (quarterback), Wesley Thomas and Rashaan Coleman (receivers) have started at the same position each contest. By comparison, nine of the 11 defensive starters have been on the field for the first snap in every contest, with only right defensive end and strong safety undergoing changes so far.
- The Governors are 3-12 all-time against the Panthers, and have not won at home against Eastern Illinois since the team’s first meeting in 1958.
Postgame video interviews and other videos from around APSU Athletics can be found on our YouTube page (www.youtube.com/CultureofExcellence).
Radio • Governors Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Brian Rives
Analyst: Van Stokes
OVC Digital Network
Play-by-Play: Braden Wood
Analyst: Manny Bell
Govs on the Web
Head coach Kirby Cannon and Van Stokes talk Governors football as Austin Peay gets set for its first home contest in nearly a month when the Govs host EIU (4:00pm, October 3rd) at Governors Stadium.