Oxford, MS – Squaring off against an SEC foe is always a daunting task, but one that can do things great and small for a program, win or lose. The scoreboard read Ole Miss 54, Austin Peay State University (APSU) 17 at the end of the game, but that doesn’t tell the entire story either.
“I see this game as just another game. It was a good challenge to see where we are as a team and where I am at as a player, but it is just another week that I will use to get better and see where I am.”
–APSU Wide Receiver Drae McCray
The scoreboard serves its purpose, it tells you who won. It doesn’t mention the impact Shamari Simmons and Kordell Jackson had on disrupting Ole Miss, or Koby Perry’s nose for the ball and consistency in bringing down its carrier. Yeah, we lost. And losing sucks. But the APSU Govs will be a better football team next weekend because of what went down this weekend.
The Governors got good if sporadic movement during the first quarter, with Ahmaad Tanner picking up 32 yards on five carries and Ellis hitting Tanner for a 14-yard gainer to kick-start Austin Peay State University’s second drive which eventually got into Ole Miss territory. However, a second fourth-down attempt on that drive was denied and the Rebels took over to keep the APSU Govs off the board.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, scored on its first drive—a one-yard toss from Matt Corral to Dontario Drummond—and then scored again on a Sam Williams strip-sack the lineman picked up and carried 33 yards for a touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, the APSU Govs again made a foray into Ole Miss territory on another steady diet of Tanner carries and a timely pass interference call against the Rebels on fourth down, which put the Govs on the Ole Miss 23-yard line. But a loss, a penalty, and an incomplete pass put the Govs in a difficult fourth-and-20 position, which ended with Ellis being sacked to snuff out the drive.
Drae McCray caught a 51-yard pass in the third quarter, it was his second 50-yard reception this season and he’s the only Governor with a 50-yard play this season.
Ahmaad Tanner finished with 70 yards rushing on 18 carries. His 184 rushing yards over two games is his best back-to-back total of his career.
Ole Miss scored on the ensuing drive (Corral to Jonathan Mingo for 15 yards), and Austin Peay followed that with a safety on a punt snap which went over Matt Rigney’s head and was wisely kicked out of the back of the end zone by the Austin Peay State University punter over risking a Rebel defender falling on it in the end zone. Corral found Drummond again for a 49-yard score and the Rebels finished their first-half flurry not even two minutes later with another Corral touchdown pass, this one on fourth down to Braylon Sanders.
The APSU Govs closed out the half on a high note, quickly marching into Ole Miss territory on the ensuing drive helped by an Ellis-to-McCray 12-yard hook-up that also earned a roughing the passer penalty to take on 15 extra yards. McCray drew a pass interference penalty two plays later to put the Govs on the Ole Miss 30, and Ellis lofted a high arcing pass to Baniko Harley, who kept his focus and his feet to haul in the pass for his second score in as many games.
After Ole Miss scored on a Corral-to-Mingo 40-yarder, the Govs answered with a march of their own, highlighted by McCray fighting through defensive pass interference to haul in a 51-yard toss from Ellis at the Ole Miss 10-yard line. The Govs would settle for a 30-yard field from Maddux Trujillo to end the drive.
Ole Miss would tack on another score via three-yard Snoop Conner plunge and were marching again before Simmons came up with a big play to snuff out the drive. On a Conner rush, Simmons poked the ball loose near the end zone, then recovered it in the ensuing scrum to give the ball back to the APSU Govs.
Ole Miss tacked on a late field goal, and the Govs closed out the scoring with a nice six-play, 81-yard march that CJ Evans Jr. took the final 40 yards by himself on a winding, weaving run through and past the second level of Ole Miss’ defense. Evans turned in a tidy 105-yard all-purpose performance (74 rushing, 31 receiving) in his own right.
I think we have a really good football team. We’ve got a team that played hard throughout the duration of this game. I’m really proud of CJ Evans Jr. for finishing off that big run there at the end. That’s the way we needed to finish the game.
–APSU Football head coach Scotty Walden
Ellis finished with 226 yards through the air on 22-of-41 passing, while Tanner (18 carries, 70 yards) formed a tidy thunder-and-lightning tandem with Evans on the ground. DJ Render (8 catches, 37 yards) joined McCray and Harley (3 catches, 57 yards) as leading receivers, with the passing game spreading the ball around to seven different targets. Perry and Simmons finished with 11 tackles each, while Jackson recorded the first multi-sack game of his Austin Peay career.
Austin Peay 17, Ole Miss 54
Next Up For APSU Football
The Austin Peay State University football team makes their return to Stacheville next week, when they host Morehead State at Fortera Stadium. Kickoff against the Eagles is scheduled for 2:00pm.