Austin Peay at Chattanooga
Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 | 6:30pm CT
Chattanooga, TN | Finley Stadium
Clarksville, TN – No. 20-ranked Austin Peay State University (APSU) football will kick off the much-anticipated 2021 season when it plays a 6:30pm, Thursday, September 2nd contest against No. 18-ranked Chattanooga at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.
The Governors enter Thursday’s season opener in the Scenic City looking to pick up the program’s first-ever win against the Mocs. Second-year head coach Scotty Walden and the APSU Govs ended the 2020-21 season on a two-game winning streak, beating No. 7 Jacksonville State and No. 13 Murray State, and look to pick up their third-straight win against a top-20 ranked FCS opponent.
Austin Peay State University football is led by two-time Consensus All-American and the 2021 OVC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Kordell Jackson. The 5-8 nickelback leads active FCS players with 11 career interceptions, he has also racked up 26.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in his career.
Also on the defensive side is linebacker Jack McDonald, whose 188 tackles over the past two seasons is the third-best mark in the FCS, behind only North Dakota State’s Jackson Hankey (199 tackles) and Western Carolina’s Ty Harris (194).
The 2020 OVC Freshman of the Year and 2021 OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the year Draylen Ellis will start under center for the APSU Govs. Ellis ranked second in pass attempts (201), third in touchdown passes (14), fourth in completions (104), and fifth in passing yardage (1270) among FCS freshmen quarterbacks last season. Ellis’ 14 touchdowns passes were also good for the sixth-best single-season in Austin Peay State University history.
With 28 wins in the past four seasons, the Govs tied the program record for wins in a four-year span (1977-80). The Austin Peay State University record for wins in five consecutive seasons is 33 (1976-80 and 1977-81).
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Thursday’s meeting between Chattanooga and Austin Peay State University, the only matchup between ranked FCS opponents in the opening weekend, was listed as one of the FCS’ Top 10 non-conference games this season by HEROSports.com.
Not The Favorite, Unless They Are
The Ohio Valley Conference’s Predicted Order of Finish tapped Austin Peay State University to finish tied for second during the league’s media days in July. APSU was picked behind preseason favorite Murray State and tied with co-second place Southeast Missouri – both teams the APSU Govs defeated in the spring.
However, the two preseason FCS polls had the Governors listed among their Top 25, something no other OVC team could claim.
Draylen Ellis, Kordell Jackson Sweep OVC Preseason Awards
Nickelback Kordell Jackson and quarterback Draylen Ellis swept the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year Awards. Jackson, a back-to-back Consensus All-American received the defensive nod for a second-straight year. Ellis, the league’s Newcomer of the Year, picks up the offensive nod after wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson won the Offensive Player of the Year award last season.
After completing 16-for-30 passes for 265 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in last spring’s first two games, freshman quarterback Draylen Ellis went 88-for-161 for 1,005 yards, 13 touchdowns, with just two interceptions in his final four contests.
Ellis earned OVC Offensive Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week in back-to-back weeks (March 16 and 23) and capped his rookie campaign by becoming the second Austin Peay player to win the league’s Newcomer of the Year award.
Owning The OVC Accolades
It was a busy spring for the Governors on the OVC weekly awards chart. In those weeks Austin Peay played, they won or shared 12 of the 27 possible weekly awards. Draylen Ellis was Newcomer of the week four times and Offensive Player of the week twice while Brian Snead was Newcomer of the Week and Offensive Player of the week once. Jack McDonald, Elijah Culp, and Kam Ruffin each were Defensive Player of the week once.
And to top it off, kicker Grant Paulette was the OVC Specialist of the Week once.
Jack McDonald, A Scholar and a Gentleman
Besides being the APSU Govs leading tackler the past two seasons, linebacker Jack McDonald also is well-accomplished off the field. In June, he was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Teams.
In July, the American Football Coaches Association listed him as a nominee for its 2021 AFCA Allstate Good Works Team. He wrapped up the preseason with a nomination for the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy in August.
Scooty Walden’s World
Scotty Walden was hired as Austin Peay State University’s 21st head football coach in November 2020. Walden, who at age 31 is the youngest head coach at the Division I level, took over in Clarksville after serving as the head coach at Southern Miss to start the 2020 season. Considered one of the brightest young offensive minds in collegiate football, the American Football Coaches Association tabbed Walden as a Top 35 coach under 35 years of age in 2019.
As the new football season begins, Austin Peay State University plans to have all Governors fans back in the stands this season. The athletics department announced a return to full capacity for the upcoming 2021-22 season in June. The APSU Governors open their home schedule with a Week 3 contest against Morehead State, September 18th.
About the Chattanooga Mocs
This is the seventh meeting in a series that dates back to 1958, Chattanooga leads the all-time series 6-0 and won the last meeting 42-6 in 2014.
Chattanooga was picked to win the Southern Conference in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll, but it was a narrow decision. The Mocs received four of the nine first-place votes and 59 total points. That placed them ahead of Samford (52 points) and VMI (50), which received two first-place votes each.
The Mocs return plenty of experience on the offensive side with Drayton Arnold returning at quarterback. His front five returns all five starters, including Cole Strange – the SoCon’s Jacobs Blocking Award Winner from the spring – and First Team All-SoCon pick McClendon Curtis and adds former Governor Blake Mitchell.
Senior defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell – HERO Sports’ choice as the best player to wear No. 90 – is the man to watch on the Mocs defensive line. In a four-game burst during the spring, he posted 19 tackles, seven TFLs, five sacks, and forced two fumbles. He is a three-time First Team All-SoCon selection and was an AFCA Second Team All-American last spring.
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Next Up for APSU Football
The Austin Peay State University football team stays on the road for a Week 2 contest at Ole Miss, September 11th. It will be the APSU Govs first-ever visit to Oxford and just the fourth time they have ventured into Mississippi.