Austin Peay (1-0 | 0-0 OVC) at Ole Miss (1-0 | 0-0 SEC)
Saturday, September 11th, 2021 | 6:30pm CT
Oxford, MI | Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Clarksville, TN – After a season-opening win, No. 17-ranked Austin Peay State University will continue its non-conference slate when it takes on Southeastern Conference-foe Ole Miss in a 6:30pm, Saturday, September 11th football matchup at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.
On the offensive end, Baniko Harley and Ahmaad Tanner led the Governors, each posting 100 yards and a receiving touchdown against the Mocs. Quarterback Draylen Ellis completed 24-of-32 passes for four touchdowns and a career-high 326 yards in the season opener, he found newcomers DJ Render and Drae McCray for the other two passing scores.
OVC Defensive Player of the Week Johnathon Edwards led Austin Peay State University on the other side of the ball, intercepting two passes in the season opener. A two-time consensus All-American Kordell Jackson racked up a team-best eight tackles against the Mocs, with 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. Graduate defensive back Koby Perry also picked up seven tackles, with 1.5 for a loss and a sack against Chattanooga.
With 29 wins since 2017, the Govs are five shy of setting the program record for wins in a five-season span. That record is 33 victories, set twice, most recently 40 years ago (1976-80 and 1977-81).
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Young Then, Younger Now
Saturday’s meeting will pit the current youngest Division I head coach against a coach that held that title when he was hired for his first Division I head coaching job. Governors head coach Scotty Walden, at age 31, is the current holder of “Youngest Division I Head Coach.” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was the youngest head coach in the FBS when he was hired by Tennessee in 2008, at age 33.
Last Time Out
Austin Peay State University’s defense held Chattanooga to just 228 yards total offense while the offense saw Draylen Ellis throw for four scores and got 100-yard performances from wide receiver Baniko Harley and running back Ahmaad Tanner in a complete, 30-20 win against the 18th-ranked Mocs in a season-opening Thursday night showdown at Finley Stadium.
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.
Ellis, 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 has gone 112-of-195 for 1,331 yards, 17 touchdowns, with just four interceptions in his next five contests (139.38 passer rating).
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
Johnathon Edwards kept alive a recent tradition when he was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week, Monday. Since the start of the Walden Era, Austin Peay has won or shared 13 of the 32 possible OVC weekly awards.
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.
Scotty 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 Governors open their home schedule with a Week 3 contest against Morehead State, September 18th.
About the Ole Miss Rebels
This is the first-ever meeting between Austin Peay and Ole Miss. The Govs are 1-2 in games played in Mississippi and are 0-5 against the Southeastern Conference teams.
Ole Miss, under second-year head coach Lane Kiffin, was picked to finish fourth in the SEC West Division, a year after setting the SEC record for total offense (562.4 ypg) in league outings. Eighteen starters return from that Outback Bowl-winning squad, eight on offense and nine on defense.
Ole Miss did not have a defensive player named to the Preseason All-SEC teams. The Rebels look to solidify their defense with the addition of three transfers, who were listed on the Rebels’ Week 1 depth chart, to the group of nine returning starters.
All-purpose back Jerrion Ealy also was a unanimous Preseason All-SEC pick. He amassed 1189 all-purpose yards last season, rushing for 745 yards and nine TDs and adding 155 receiving yards (1 TD) and 289 kick return yards (1 TD). The junior is returning in 2021 after missing the spring due to shoulder surgery.
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Next Up For APSU Football
Austin Peay State University football team opens its home schedule with a Week 3 contest against Morehead State, September 18th. It is the third meeting between the former OVC and Pioneer Football League foes since 2017.