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APSU Football comes up short against Tennessee State, 26-24

 

APSU FootballNashville, TN – Team A outgained Team B by nearly 100 yards, held its opponent to less than four yards per carry on the ground and raced out to an early 17-3 lead, you’d feel pretty good about Team A’s chances for a victory.

Alas.

Austin Peay Football falls to Tennessee State 26-24 at Nissan Stadium, Saturday. (APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay Football falls to Tennessee State 26-24 at Nissan Stadium, Saturday. (APSU Sports Information)

Such was the lot for Austin Peay State University (APSU) football on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

The Governors controlled many aspects of the game, but a methodical Tennessee State outfit owned a distinct advantage in time of possession, chipping away at the Austin Peay State University lead and hanging on for a 26-24 win.

The Govs came out as fired up as they could be, forcing a Tennessee State three-and-out on the first possession and needing all of two plays to reach the end zone—a 30-yard scamper from Kentel Williams followed by a JaVaughn Craig 19-yard jaunt that gave him sole possession of first place all-time for rushing touchdowns by an Austin Peay State University quarterback.

Drive two was almost a carbon copy of the first—five plays after taking the ensuing kickoff, Tennessee State punted again and the Govs embarked on a 10-play, 73-yard drive, much of which was chewed up by a 52-yard Craig-to-Baniko Harley strike to get the APSU Govs inside the TSU 25-yard line. A Craig-to-Elijah Brown hook-up got the Govs down to the one-yard line, but Austin Peay was forced to settle for a 21-yard Logan Birchfield field goal.

After three drive, the Tigers had all of five yards to show for it. Their next three drives—of 49, 75 and two yards after an interception—all yielded Antonio Zita field goals from 43, 22 and 26 yards.

However, in the midst of all that, the Govs put together another sterling drive, a 12-play, 68-yarder after Tennessee State’s first score. The Govs needed some nerve to pull this one off—on fourth-and-one from their own 41-yard line, with the Govs lined up in a punt formation, a quick-snap to Corey Simmons yielded six yards and the first down. Then on third-and-10 from the 27, Craig found Williams out of the backfield and the Knoxville native did the rest, kicking on the afterburners for a 27-yard touchdown reception. It was 17-3 at that point, but two more Tiger field goals would make it 17-9 at halftime.

The second half began very similarly to the first—after the kickoff, Craig found Harley on the first play from scrimmage for 48 yards. Six plays later, the duo hooked up again from four yards out for a score to grow the lead to 24-9.

Slowly, the tide began to turn in Tennessee State’s favor. A mammoth 15-play, 92-yard drive followed APSU’s score, including a nervy fourth-down try from inside Tennessee State’s own 20-yard line and a fourth-and-two conversion for four yards to get Tennessee State into the end zone for the first time on the night.

Zita booted a 50-yarder to open the fourth quarter, followed by a three-and-out which left the Tigers near midfield. A Cameron Rosendahl 31-yard pass to Al-Malik Moore got the Tigers inside the Governor 20, with TSU pulling ahead for the first time on an eight-yard Rosendahl pass to Steven Newbold.

The Govs had three drives late, and only took one snap on their own side of the 50—which resulted in a 53-yard strike to DeAngelo Wilson to set the Govs up inside the Tennessee State 25-yard line. However, the Govs missed a pair of late field goals and saw a 50/50 ball tossed up to Harley in the end zone result in an interception on APSU’s penultimate drive.

To its credit, the defense bore down late, forcing a pair of quick three-and-outs to give the offense a chance; Pat Walker recorded the last of his team-high 11 tackles to stop Seth Rowland short of the line to gain to get the ball back with 2:36 to play.

The contest might not have gone Austin Peay State University’s way, but all is not lost—not the OVC, not the Sgt. York Trophy, nothing of substance that can’t be recovered.

Next Up For APSU Football

Austin Peay State University will refocus and turn its attention to a huge road contest against Tennessee Tech, October 26th, at 1:30pm in Cookeville Tennessee.


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