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APSU Football’s second half rally falls short at home against Tennessee State, 24-22

APSU FootballClarksville, TN – A slow-simmering affair burst to life midway through the third quarter with 43 points scored in the final 23:26, but the Austin Peay State University (APSU) football team fell a two-point conversion shy in a narrow 24-22 defeat to Tennessee State, Saturday, in a nonconference outing at Fortera Stadium

The first half was quiet for both teams as Austin Peay (2-3) saw its defense bend but not break. Tennessee State drove into the Austin Peay State University red zone three times in the first half, but those drives resulted in a fumble lost, a missed 29-yard field goal, and a 24-yard Antonio Zita field goal conversion with 4:13 left in the first half for a 3-0 lead.

Tennessee State (2-3) held Austin Peay State University’s offense at bay in the opening half, limiting the Govs to five rushing yards and 79 passing yards. The Governors only ventured into Tigers territory once in the first half, but it left a 39-yard field goal try with three seconds left which Maddux Trujillo narrowly missed, leaving the Tigers in the lead 3-0 at halftime.

After the half, the slow starts for both offenses continued. The Governors broke through with Maddux Trujillo’s 25-yard field goal and suddenly the lid was lifted.

Tennessee State scored on its ensuing drive when Geremy Hickbottom and Rodell Rahmaan connected on a 63-yard touchdown pass to end a quick four-play drive. The Governors responded in kind on the game’s next drive when Brian Snead broke through the Tigers line for a 66-yard rushing touchdown to conclude a four-play drive. After a Maddux Trujillo PAT, the Govs led 10-9 with 5:55 left in the third.

The lead wouldn’t survive beyond the next Tennessee State possession. This drive went two plays longer than their previous scoring drive, but it was another big play – this time a Hickbottom 48-yard scramble – that resulted in another Tigers touchdown for a 17-10 lead.

“I am very disappointed in our loss tonight against a really good Tennessee State team. We knew on film that they are a very talented team. They have as good of athletes as anyone in the conference. I thought that we didn’t deserve to win the game. We had too many miscues, missed executions and way too many times we did not line up in the right formation or didn’t adjust to their formation and just critical mistakes that really hurt us.”

APSU Head Coach Scotty Walden

Austin Peay State University would force Tennessee State’s offense to go silent for the better part of 12 minutes, but only managed to conclude its two drives with a 24-yard Trujillo field goal and a 40-yarder three minutes later.

With the APSU Governors back within a point at 17-16, Tennessee State hit yet another big play. This time Hickbottom found Rahmaan down the middle of the field where he avoided a tackle and found the end zone for a 45-yard completion, extending the lead back to eight points.

The two defenses traded three-and-outs, Austin Peay State University regaining possession with 3:33 left in the game. The Govs would mount an impressive 7-play, 75-yard drive – aided by a Tennessee State pass interference penalty – and Ellis would find Harley for a 16-yard touchdown, closing the deficit to two points. After a review to confirm the call on the field, Austin Peay State University attempted a two-point conversion but Ellis’ pass slipped through the fingers of the APSU receiver, leaving TSU ahead 24-22.

APSU’s defense would force one more three-and-out – their seventh of the day – to get the offense the ball with 55 seconds left. Austin Peay State University would muster its way to midfield with eight seconds left, but a hook-and-ladder sequence saw Ellis tackled at the 47-yard line, ending the game.

Ellis completed 25-of-54 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown – his second-straight game with 50-plus pass attempts. Harley, who played only the second half, caught five passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Snead, who rumbled for the Govs 66-yard touchdown in the second half, finished with seven carries for 73 yards. Trujillo finished with 10 points, going 3-for-4 on field goals and converting his lone PAT.

Hickbottom completed 18-of-34 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns and also added 66 yards and a score on the ground to lead Tennessee State. Rahmaan caught five of those passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Scoring Summary

APSU 0, TSU 3 (4:13 of the 2nd)
After two fruitless trips into the red zone, Tennessee State mounted a 18-play, 82-yard drive that consumed nearly six minutes. However, with Tennessee State sitting on 1st-and-Goal from the Austin Peay State University one-yard line, the Govs defense stuffed a trio of rushing plays to force a 4th-and-Goal. Tennessee State lined up to go for the touchdown, but a false start forced a 24-yard Antonio Zita field goal to break the scoreless tie.  

APSU 0, TSU 3 (Halftime)

APSU 3, TSU 3 (8:26 of the 3rd)
The Govs started a drive near midfield after a Tennessee State personal foul penalty during a punt. The Govs got back-to-back completions to Baniko Harley, including a 28-yarder, but could not move the ball once they made it inside the TSU 20-yard line. Austin Peay’s first trip into the red zone would result in Maddux Trujillo’s game-tying 25-yard field goal.

APSU 3, TSU 9 (7:02 of the 3rd)
On the ensuing TSU drive, the Govs got TSU into 3rd-and-18 after a Demtri Scott sack. However, the Tigers converted the third down on a 20-yard completion by Geremy Hickbottom to Zaire Thornton. On the next play, Hickbottom found Rodell Rahmaan for a 63-yard touchdown completion to retake the lead. APSU blocked the extra points.

APSU 10, TSU 9 (5:55 of the 3rd)
Brian Snead. After the first three plays of Austin Peay’s drive following the TSU touchdown gained just 12 yards, Draylen Ellis handed the ball to Snead who broke through the line and tip-toed along the TSU boundary to score a touchdown. Trujillo converted his PAT to give the Govs the slimmest of leads.

APSU 10, TSU 17 (3:13 of the 3rd)
The big plays kept coming on the ensuing TSU drive. After the first five plays got the ball into Austin Peay territory, TSU’s Hickbottom scrambled for a 48-yard touchdown run, eluding several would-be tacklers. The Tigers two-point conversion pass by Rahmaan was good, giving TSU a seven-point lead.  

APSU 13, TSU 17 (10:09 of the 4th)
After forcing a three-and-out that spanned the quarter break, Austin Peay started at its own 32 yard line. The Govs used a personal foul and two pass interference penalties to move down the field and inside the TSU 20-yard line. Austin Peay State University scored an apparent touchdown only to see a holding play negate the score. APSU took advantage of a head’s up play to maintain possession on 3rd-and-19 when TSU forced a fumble and offensive lineman Colby McKee recovered the ball and carried in 17 yards to the seven-yard line. Trujillo made the drive pay off with a 24-yard field goal to narrow the deficit.

APSU 16, TSU 17 (7:31 of the 4th)
The Govs defense forced another three-and-out and the Govs took over on their 35-yard line. Ellis opened up with a 31-yard pass completion to Harley and tacked on another 15 yards after a roughing the passer penalty was enforced. On the TSU 19-yard line, the Govs could not move the ball. Trujillo’s 40-yard field goal provided the points to cap the scoring drive.

APSU 16, TSU 24 (5:33 of the 4th)
TSU used two big plays to score on the game’s next drive. A Hickbottom 37-yard pass to Thornton got the ball into Austin Peay territory. Three plays later Hickbottom found Rahmaan for a 45-yard touchdown completion to extend the TSU lead to eight points.

APSU 22, TSU 24 (1:56 of the 4th)
Another Govs defensive three-and-out and the Govs started a drive on their own 25-yard line. A trio of quick plays gained 22 yards to move the Govs toward midfield. A deep bomb to Josh DeCambre resulted in a pass interference call and an automatic first down. Ellis then found McCray for a 22-yard completion before hitting Harley for a 16-yard touchdown connection that stood up to the scrutiny of an official review. However, the Govs could not complete the pass attempt on the two-point conversion, leaving them trailing by two points.

Next Up For APSU Football

With its nonconference schedule closed, the Austin Peay State University football team looks ahead to its Ohio Valley Conference opener when it hosts Southeast Missouri on Saturday, October 9th in a 3:00pm contest that also will mark its 75th Homecoming game.

Box Score

Tennessee State 24, Austin Peay 22

  1 2 3 4 Final
Tennessee State 0 3 14 7 24
Austin Peay 0 0 10 12 22

Tennessee State Passing

19 HICKBOTTOM,GEREMY 18-34 301 2 0 53 146.7


Tennessee State Rushing

3 STARLING,DEVON 29 120 0 14 4.1
19 HICKBOTTOM,GEREMY 10 66 1 48 6.6
22 ROUSE,JALEN 1 3 0 3 3
TM TEAM 1 -1 0 0 -1
5 JOHNSON,DAYRON 1 -4 0 0 -4


Tennessee State Receiving

11 THORNTON,ZAIRE 6 89 0 37 14.8 7 86
85 RAHMAAN,RODELL 5 129 2 63 25.8 6 83
3 STARLING,DEVON 4 49 0 18 12.3 5 80
6 DOBSON,ZACK 2 22 0 14 11 5 40
5 JOHNSON,DAYRON 1 12 0 12 12 2 50


Austin Peay Passing

9 ELLIS,DRAYLEN 25-54 254 1 0 46 91.9
TM TEAM 0-1 0 0 0 0 0


Austin Peay Rushing

4 SNEAD,BRIAN 7 73 1 66 10.4
5 TANNER,AHMAAD 13 34 0 10 2.6
51 MCKEE,COLBY 0 17 0 17
9 ELLIS,DRAYLEN 9 3 0 16 0.3
23 EVANS,CJ 1 2 0 2 2


Austin Peay Receiving

2 HARLEY,BANIKO 5 85 1 31 17 13 38
3 MINTER,EUGENE 5 38 0 10 7.6 7 71
10 MCCRAY,DRAE 4 40 0 22 10 10 40
13 RENDER,D.J. 4 24 0 12 6 8 50
18 DECAMBRE,JOSHUA 3 35 0 25 11.7 5 60
23 EVANS,CJ 3 23 0 9 7.7 6 50
1 GOODMAN,TREY 1 7 0 7 7 2 50


Game Comparison

Total Yds 485 383
Pass Yds 301 254
Rush Yds 184 129
Penalties 14-129 7-50
1st Downs 23 26
3rd Downs 7-17 6-19
4th Downs 0-0 0-0
Total Plays 76 85
Avg Yds/Play 6.4 4.5
Avg Yds/Completion 16.7 10.2
Avg Yds/Rush 4.4 4.3
Sack-Adj Rush Yd(Avg) 197 (4.8) 158 (6.1)
Red Zone 1-3 4-4
Time of Poss 33:24 26:36
Turnovers (Def Pts Off) 1 (0) 0 (0)
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Sacks (Def Yds) 4 (29) 1 (13)
TFL (Def Yds) 7 (33) 5 (23)

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