Austin Peay (0-6, 0-3 OVC) vs. UT Martin (3-2, 2-1)
Saturday, October 17th, 2015 | 4:00pm CT
Clarksville, TN | Governors Stadium
Clarksville, TN – For the first time since 2012, Austin Peay State University football team begins a homestand of sorts, playing host to UT Martin, 4:00pm, Saturday at Governors Stadium in the first of back-to-back home contests.
Looking to snap the second-longest losing streak in FCS, the Governors (0-6, 0-3 Ohio Valley Conference) also seek to play spoiler against the Skyhawks.UT Martin (3-2, 2-1 OVC) need only to win against the Governors to lock up the Alvin C. York Trophy—awarded annually to the victor in the quadrangular season-series between the Govs, UT Martin, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech—for the second season in a row.
Austin Peay’s offense continues to improve, seeing incremental point increases in each of the last four contests, but must avoid the end-of-half pitfalls that have become too common in recent weeks. In the last four minutes of the first half dating back to the Vanderbilt contest (September 19th), Austin Peay has been outscored 48-0, including game-altering 14-point swings against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois.
The Governors offensive burst has coincided with the ascension of Kendall Morris, who earned OVC Newcomer of the Week honors after his 136-yard outburst last week at Murray State. In his last three games, Morris has rushed for 352 yards on 55 carries (6.4 ypc) and three touchdowns, becoming the first Governor with a rushing score in three consecutive weeks since Ryan White in 2011.
Morris will face a stingy Skyhawk defense that held Tennessee State to 85 yards rushing last week. UT Martin got the win in its Homecoming contest against the Tigers, 28-14, thanks in no small part to a pair of blocked field goal attempts as head coach Jason Simpson moved into ninth-place in OVC history with 61 victories.
The Skyhawks put up plenty of points (35.0 ppg), but also give up their fair share as well (33.0 ppg allowed). Quarterback Jarod Neal (1264 yards, 16 touchdowns in five games) needs 170 passing yards to move into fourth place on UT Martin’s career charts and ranks sixth all-time in Skyhawk history with 48 touchdown passes.
Scouting the Skyhawks
UT Martin’s success comes in the trenches—the Skyhawks have recorded 14 sacks, led by Damani Taylor with 4.5, but have allowed just one sack on the season, which came in the season-opener at Ole Miss.
The Skyhawks are prone to falling into an early hole, having surrendered 72 first-quarter points in 2015, including 14 last week to Tennessee State. But they can make any deficit up in a hurry and have, outscoring opponents 148-93 in quarters two-through-four.
Last Time Out Against UT Martin
Austin Peay’s offense could get nothing going by land or air in the Oct. 25, 2014 meeting in Martin, the Skyhawks 496-170 total offense advantage led to a resounding 37-7 victory at Hardy-Graham Stadium. Wesley Thomas‘ 43-yard touchdown grab provided the Governors only points, while Adam Noble paced the defense with 10 tackles.
Keep An Eye On
- A loss would be Austin Peay’s eighth straight in the series, the longest losing streak for either squad since the Skyhawks lost eight in a row between 1938-48.
- If Kendall Morris records a rushing touchdown again, it would be the first time a Governor ran for a touchdown in four or more consecutive games since Terrence Holt, who closed the 2009 season with a touchdown in back-to-back contests and opened the 2010 campaign by scoring a rushing touchdown in three straight games.
- UT Martin is a stingy foe on third down, allowing opponents to convert at a 36 percent rate; the Governors offense, meanwhile, have had their share of struggles on third down, converting just 27 percent of the time.
- A wrist injury has knocked Gino Roberson out for the season, but freshman Branden Johnson has been a terror in opposing backfields in his stead. In his first career start last week, Johnson was credited with two tackles for loss and has 4.5 TFL on seven total tackles in 2015.
- Austin Peay is allowing opponents to convert at a 57.6 percent (57-of-99) clip on third-downs, ranking 121st nationally.
- Opponents have started 17 drives in Austin Peay territory in 2015, including the first two for Murray State last week.
- Saturday could spell the return of senior Bernard Gauldin, who has missed more than a month since dislocating his big toe in the season-opening drive against Mercer.
Live stats will be available during the game at LetsGoPeay.com, and all home games and Ohio Valley Conference games can be viewed on www.ovcdigitalnetwork.com.
Postgame video interviews and other videos from around APSU Athletics can be found on our YouTube page (www.youtube.com/CultureofExcellence).
Head coach Kirby Cannon and play-by-play voice Van Stokes talk Governors football as Austin Peay gets set to host UT Martin.
Radio • Governors Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Brian Rives
Analyst: Philip Sparn
OVC Digital Network
Play-by-Play: Braden Wood
Analyst: Manny Bel