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HomeSportsAPSU Football comes from behind to beat Tennessee State 21-17

APSU Football comes from behind to beat Tennessee State 21-17

APSU Sports Information

APSU FootballNashville, TN – This was the only way it could end.

After a heart-rending loss to Tennessee State on a last-second play a year ago, the only possible way to exorcise those demons was to stand tall and fend off the Tigers in the exact same scenario this season.

And that’s exactly what Austin Peay State University football did Saturday night in Ohio Valley Conference play at Nissan Stadium, making a late score stand up in a 21-17 victory—Austin Peay’s first against Tennessee State since 2011.

Austin Peay Football gets 21-17 win over Tennessee State at Nissan Stadium Saturday night. (APSU Sports Information)
Austin Peay Football gets 21-17 win over Tennessee State at Nissan Stadium Saturday night. (APSU Sports Information)

The Governors capitalized on short field to strike the contests first blow.

After yet another strip-sack by sophomore Jaison Williams—his third in as many weeks—was recovered by Nate Howard deep in Tennessee State territory, the Govs quickly marched 20 yards in five plays. Sophomore Kentel Williams secured the game’s first touchdown on a three-yard rush—his season’s first score on the ground.

APSU Football's Kentel WilliamsThe Tigers first score also came on a short field, albeit without the help of an Austin Peay turnover. After a Tigers punt was downed at the Austin Peay one-yard line and the Governors subsequent punt put Tennessee State on the Austin Peay 28, the Tigers were able to march inside the APSU 15-yard line.

A timely sack by freshman Kordell Jackson on third-and-nine forced a Tigers field goal, which Coby Weiss, subbing for injured All-OVC kicker Lane Clark, converted from 39 yards out to make it 7-3.

Jackson and the Governors defensive backs weren’t only making their presence felt in the opposing backfield; they conspired to hold preseason OVC Offensive Player of the Year Patrick Smith without a catch on three first-half targets.

APSU Football's Jeremiah OatsvallTwice in the second quarter, the Tigers marched into Tennessee State territory. The first time, Weiss’ 47-yard field goal missed wide to the left; on the second, which chewed up most of the final 6:22 of the second quarter, Weiss missed again, this time wide right, and the Govs took a 7-3 lead into halftime.

Austin Peay opened the second half the same way it opened the first—with a touchdown. A 10-play, 60-yard drive—helped by back-to-back first-down tosses from Jeremiah Oatsvall to Gorel Soumare and Kyran Moore, as well as a 14-yard toss to Moore on third-and-seven—was capped by a one-yard plunge by Prince Momodu to make it a two-score game.

After being blanketed all game by a relentless Austin Peay secondary, Smith found a different way to affect the contest. On fourth-and-goal from the Austin Peay two after an eight-play, 42-yard drive, the Tigers used some trickery—an offset line at the top of the formation, two receivers at the bottom, with Smith and Weiss in the backfield and long-snapper Thomas Newberg over the ball. Instead of moving into field-goal formation, Smith called for the snap and lofted a pass to Newberg in the end zone for a TSU score.

The Tigers took the lead early in the fourth quarter after Michael Hughes hit a streaking Devon Johnson for a 66-yard touchdown pass—longest by an Austin Peay opponent this season.

After the teams traded three-and-outs, Austin Peay got the ball back with good field position after Kyran Moore picked up the punted ball on the APSU 11-yard line, returned it to the 30 and added another 15 yards after Tennessee State was whistled for a horse-collar tackle. The Govs drove into Tiger territory, but stalled. A fourth-and-three attempt came up just short and Tennessee State took over on downs.

Again the Govs forced a three-and-out, and again Tennessee State elected to punt directly to Moore. This return Moore broke for 35 yards—a season-long by a Governor—to set the Govs up at midfield with just under three minutes remaining in the contest.

APSU Football's Ahmaad TannerAn Ahmaad Tanner rush for seven yards on third-and-four set up the game’s pivotal moment. On the ensuing first down, Oatsvall rolled right and saw nothing but green ahead. He scampered 34 yards, down to the Tigers two-yard line. Tanner punched it in to give the Govs a 21-17 lead with 1:26 to go in the fourth quarter.

Governor fans had been here before—last season, the Govs led Tennessee State with 1:05 to go before the Tigers scored a last-second, last-gasp touchdown to deal Austin Peay its most crushing blow of the 2016 campaign.

Not this time.

Although Tennessee State gained first downs on a Hughes’ fourth-down scramble and a middle-of-the-field completion to Smith—who finished with one catch for nine yards—a crucial false start penalty followed by an illegal hands to the face call pushed the Tigers back deep into their own territory.

Williams would end it as he began it for the Govs, taking down Hughes on the game’s final play for a game-ending sack.

The win gives Austin Peay back-to-back road wins for the first time since 2007 and gives the Govs some momentum heading into next Saturday’s 4:00pm. Homecoming contest against Southeast Missouri.

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