Jacksonville, AL – 1979… it was the year the Happy Meal debuted, and it was also the last time the Austin Peay State University (APSU) football team emerged victorious at Jacksonville State. That changed, Sunday, as safety Kam Ruffin picked off two passes to lead a defense that forced six turnovers and stifled No. 7 Jacksonville State’s offense in a 13-10 Ohio Valley Conference victory at JSU Stadium.
Hanging on to a less than touchdown lead for the final 35-plus minutes, Austin Peay (3-5, 3-2 OVC) leaned heavily on its defense in the final half, and it rose to the occasion.
That defense capped its performance on Jacksonville State’s final three drives: forcing a three-and-out to start, Ruffin picking off a pass on the second, and John Wesley Whiteside falling on the ball after his strip-sack to secure the victory.
And in what some pointed to as a matchup of the league’s most prolific offense against the league’s most generous defense, the APSU defense showed what it could accomplish. The Govs held the Gamecocks 154 yards and 20 points below their OVC scoring average.
Behind that stout defensive effort, Austin Peay State University’s offense checked in with two first-half touchdowns. Draylen Ellis found DeAngelo Wilson for a 38-yard touchdown in a first-quarter drive aided profusely by JSU penalties. Then Ahmaad Tanner capped a spectacular 20-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to cap the Govs’ scoring.
Jacksonville State (7-2, 4-1 OVC) scored on the game’s opening drive with Josh Samuel dashing into the end zone from three yards out with 13:28 left in the game. However, the Gamecocks would only find the red zone one more time the rest of the way and had to settle for an Alen Karajic 36-yard field goal.
Ruffin led the Govs’ turnover cavalcade with his two interceptions, while safety Terrell Vassell and cornerback Jonathan Edwards added an interception each. It was Austin Peay State University’s first four-interception day since 2007 against Murray State. Whiteside and linebacker John McDonald had a fumble recovery each.
Offensively, wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson caught 10 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown – his second straight game with both 100-plus receiving yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Draylen Ellis completed 28-of-53 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown.
Samuel rushed 20 times for 89 yards and a touchdown to lead Jacksonville State’s offense. Nicario Harper had an interception and seven tackles to pace the JSU defense.
JSU 7, APSU 0
The APSU Govs had an opportunity to force a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, but Zion Webb burst through the line for a 48-yard run to set up JSU at the Govs 15-yard line. Josh Samuel completed the drive with a three-yard run touchdown run two plays later.
JSU 7, APSU 6
Three Jacksonville State penalties aided Austin Peay’s first drive. The critical flag came after the Govs completed a 3rd-and-4 pass right at the first-down marker; an unsportsmanlike conduct foul put the Govs on the JSU 38-yard line. Ellis made the Gamecocks pay for the penalties, finding DeAngelo Wilson in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown completion. The Govs’ two-point attempt failed, leaving them trailing by a point less than four minutes into the game.
APSU 13, JSU 7
Ellis and the APSU Govs embarked on their longest drive of the season – a 20-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 7:13 off the clock in the second quarter. Austin Peay State University converted three third-downs on its own, and Jacksonville State penalties assisted on another trio of third-down conversions. But it was a roughing the passer penalty after a play that would have resulted in 4th-and-Goal at the 1-yard line that proved the most painful. Three plays later, Ahmaad Tanner took the pile into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
APSU 13, JSU 10
Two key Austin Peay State University defensive plays helped stall a Jacksonville State drive and force a 36-yard field goal conversion. Early in the drive the Gamecocks converted a 3rd-and-6, a 3rd-and-1, and a 4th-and-1, the latter moving the ball into the red zone. But Kordell Jackson cut down Josh Samuel behind the line of scrimmage for a three-yard loss on 2nd-and-8. On the next play, Jackson made his presence felt again, hitting Zion Webb as he was attempting to pass, forcing an incompletion and the field goal.
Austin Peay 13, Jacksonville State 10
Next Up For APSU Football
Fresh off taking down one of the OVC’s unbeaten teams, the Austin Peay State University football team will have a chance to do it again in six days when it hosts nationally-ranked and now OVC-leading Murray State in a 2:00pm Saturday contest at Fortera Stadium. Tickets for that game are available online at www.LetsGoPeay.com/BuyTickets