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APSU Football hits the road to take on Eastern Kentucky

APSU FootballClarksville, TN – A showdown with a former Ohio Valley Conference foe and a future ASUN Conference rival awaits the No.19-ranked Austin Peay State University (APSU)football team when it travels to Eastern Kentucky for a Saturday contest at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond, Kentucky at 2:00pm.

Austin Peay State University is set to make its first trip to Eastern Kentucky since the 2019 OVC Championship season when the APSU Govs knocked off the Colonels, 28-21, in overtime. The last trip to Richmond was a part of a five-game, season-ending winning streak that carried the Governors to the FCS Playoffs.

Draylen Ellis led the Governors’ aerial attack and earned OVC Offensive Player of the Week last time out against Morehead State, throwing for a career-high 350 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. On the ground, graduate running back Ahmaad Tanner racked up 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries.

Defensively, Troy Henderson Jr. led the way with nine tackles against Morehead State. Koby Perry added eight stops with 1.5 tackles for loss, while sophomore Terrell Allen recorded a team-best 2.5 tackles for loss. Graduate linebacker Jack McDonald earned OVC Defensive Player of the Week with three tackles and a 32-yard pick-six against the Eagles.

With 30 wins since 2017, the Govs are four 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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What Was Old Will Be New Again

Long-time foe Eastern Kentucky awaits Austin Peay’s football team in its third road game of the season, Saturday, at Roy Kidd Stadium. The Govs and Colonels last played when both were members of the Ohio Valley Conference in 2019 before EKU elected to forgo the league’s spring slate to play a complete nonconference schedule in fall 2020.

This season’s meeting will prove to be a transitional meeting for both with EKU playing this season in the ASUN-Western Athletic Conference’s AQ7 group before joining APSU in the ASUN next season.

Last Time Out

Austin Peay State University used a 20-point second quarter and 580 total offensive yards to win its home opener against Morehead State, Saturday.

Quarterback Draylen Ellis threw for a career-best 350 yards while tight end Eugene Minter caught two touchdowns and running back Ahmaad Tanner ran for two more.

Owning The OVC Accolades

Daylen Ellis (offensive) and Jack McDonald’s (defensive) Week 3 OVC honors kept alive a recent Governors tradition. Since the start of the Walden Era, Austin Peay has won or shared 15 of the 40 possible OVC weekly awards.

Learning Curve

After completing 16-of-30 passes for 265 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in his first two career games, quarterback Draylen Ellis responded by going 88-of-161 for 1,005 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just two interceptions in the final four games of his freshman season.

To start his sophomore campaign, Ellis has completed 66-of-109 passes for 898 yards, eight touchdowns, and just two interceptions.

Not The Favorite, Unless They Are

The Ohio Valley Conference’s Predicted Order of Finish tapped Austin Peay 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 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.

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.

About the Eastern Kentucky Colonels

This is the 53rd meeting all-time in a series that Eastern Kentucky leads 46-6, however, Austin Peay has won two of its last three games against the Colonels.

Eastern Kentucky will compete for an automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I Football Championship through the ASUN-WAC Challenge. Future members of the ASUN (Jacksonville State, Central Arkansas, and Eastern Kentucky) and Western Athletic Conference (Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian and Lamar) will compete in a round-robin schedule to determine one automatic postseason bid.

Eastern Kentucky has leaned on its passing game over its first three games, with 67 percent of the offense on the arm of quarterback Parker McKinney (see below). But McKinney also has 103 of the Colonels 291 rushing yards, making him accountable for 76 percent of the team’s offense.

The Colonels defense has held strong through the season’s first three weeks, surrendering no more than 30 points (at Louisville). The result is a 1-2 record highlighted by a narrow win at SoCon member Western Carolina (31-28) and an even narrower loss to MVC foe Indiana State (21-23). EKU has four picks (one pick-six) and 15 pass breakups this season.

McKinney has more experience than “redshirt sophomore” may indicate – it is actually his fourth season with EKU. He played the final three games as a true freshman in 2018 then 10 games in a redshirt freshman campaign, followed by six games during the 2020 fall campaign and has three games played this season. All told, he has 22 games played with 3,909 yards, 25 TDs, and 18 INTs.

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Next Up For APSU Football

The Austin Peay State University football team starts a three-week stay at home when they host Tennessee State in a Saturday, October 2nd nonconference tilt at Fortera Stadium at 7L00pm.

Austin Peay State University then hosts Southeast Missouri in its October 9th OVC opener before taking the next week off.  APSU does not return to the road until an October 23rd OVC game at Murray State.


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