Clarksville, TN – On its Military Appreciation Day, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) football team proved a great defense is the best offense.
Johnathon Edwards intercepted three passes as part of a program-record six-interception day as Austin Peay State University overcame a rough start to power past Eastern Illinois 42-26 in Ohio Valley Conference action, Saturday, at Fortera Stadium.
The six Austin Peay State University interceptions tied the program record set in both 1999 and 2001 against Kentucky Wesleyan.
The interceptions were just part of a stellar Governors defensive performance, including season highs in tackles for loss (9) and sacks (5). Austin Peay (4-5, 2-2 OVC) leaned on that defense as they fell into an early hole on the scoreboard and mounted a steady comeback.
First, the Governors had to survive an inauspicious start that saw them commit turnovers on two of their first three plays from scrimmage. The Governors’ defense limited the damage from those giveaways to a field goal and a touchdown meaning Austin Peay State University trailed 10-0 with 11:57 remaining in the first quarter.
A few drives later, Eastern Illinois (1-9, 1-4 OVC) threatened to regain the lead, driving to the Austin Peay 15-yard line. Edwards ended the threat with his second interception, this time in the end zone.
The Governors extended their lead with the second half’s first two touchdowns. In the third quarter, Ellis found Minter down the Govs’ sideline for a 59-yard touchdown and a 34-21 lead with 1:07 left. A Koby Perry interception and return set up a short drive to start the fourth quarter, Snead capping the 22-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run for a 41-20 lead.
Ellis completed 11-of-22 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns – five of his completions going for more than 30 yards. McCray caught six passes for a career-high 137 yards and two touchdowns. Eugene Minter also caught three passes for a career-high 132 yards and a touchdown. Snead added 93 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns.
Edwards added two pass breakups, four tackles, and a half tackle for loss to his three-interception day. Meanwhile, Terrell Allen led the defensive line group with three tackles and 2.5 sacks. Additionally, Jack McDonald led the way with nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.
Eastern Illinois (1-9, 1-4 OVC) saw its quarterbacks go 28-for-57 for 303 yards but threw just one touchdown against six interceptions. Wide receiver Isaiah Hill caught 10 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Tyris Harvey had a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Jordan Vincent forced a fumble on the game’s first play from scrimmage and had an interception later in the game.
APSU 0, EIU 3 – After an Austin Peay State University fumble on the first play from scrimmage, the Governors defense held EIU out of the end zone, the Panthers settling for a 26-yard field goal attempt by Stone Galloway for the game’s first points.
APSU 0, EIU 10 – Austin Peay State University nearly connected on a big play on its second play from scrimmage. But a pass to the sideline on its third play was picked off by Tyris Harvey. His 29-yard return provided the game’s first touchdown, extending the EIU lead.
APSU 7, EIU 10 – The APSU Governors’ third drive saw them move the ball down the field, with a 27-yard Layman-to-Minter completion providing the first big play. Layman then connected on another pass for 10 yards to CJ Evans before finding Drae McCray for a 32-yard strike in the end zone for Austin Peay’s first score.
APSU 7, EIU 13 – Eastern Illinois’ second offensive drive went 50 yards in 10 plays and briefly touched the APSU red zone. However, a critical holding call pushed the ball back to the APSU 28, and EIU would not gain another first down and again settled for a 43-yard Galloway field goal.
APSU 14, EIU 13 – Johnathon Edwards‘ picked off his fifth pass of the season and rambled 54 yards on the return to set up the APSU Govs offense deep in Eastern Illinois’ territory. Five plays later, Snead leaped over the huddled masses on the goal line, breaking the plane for a touchdown, tying the game. Afterward, Maddux connected on the PAT to give APSU its first lead.
APSU 14, EIU 20 – Eastern Illinois’ took the ensuing drive 75 yards on 12 plays to score again. Weir connected on passes of 14 and 15 yards early on the drive, but a 39-yard completion to Ringwood put the ball inside the APSU 10-yard line. An Austin Peay State University pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-11 kept the drive alive, and – two plays later – Harrison Bey-Buie rushed over the left end for a touchdown.
APSU 21, EIU 20 – Austin Peay State University’s defense forced a three-and-out, handing the Govs offense the ball on EIU’s 43-yard line. Draylen Ellis launched the ball downfield under intense pressure and connected with McCray for a 43-yard touchdown, with Maddux’s PAT giving the Govs the lead again.
APSU 28, EIU 20 – Edwards’ second interception of the day led to an Austin Peay scoring drive that extended its lead. With EIU inside the APSU red zone, Edwards picked off a pass in the end zone. Snead shed a trio of tackles on the second play of the ensuing drive, galloping to a 34-yard run that moved the ball into EIU territory. Two plays later, Ellis found CJ Evans uncovered deep for the 33-yard completion for a touchdown. Trujillo connected on the PAT for the eight-point advantage.
APSU 35, EIU 20 – Ellis continued to find receivers for big-play touchdown strikes, finding Minter for a 59-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. Minter fought hand-to-hand down the Govs’ sideline and broke to the middle of the field just in time to catch the pass, putting the Govs up by 15 after Maddux’s PAT.
APSU 42, EIU 26 – Eastern Illinois closed the game as it opened it, forcing an Austin Peay State University turnover and turning the resulting possession into points. Eastern Illinois quickly marched down the field after gaining the ball at its 32-yard line, needing just five plays to cover the 68 yards. Zach Weir connected with Isaiah Hill three times on the drive, including a 15-yard touchdown before a two-point conversion attempt failed.
Next Up For APSU Football
The Austin Peay State University football team returns to the road for a Saturday 2:00pm contest at Tennessee State that will serve as the road finale for the Governors.
Eastern Illinois 26, Austin Peay 42
Eastern Illinois Passing
Eastern Illinois Rushing
Eastern Illinois Receiving
Austin Peay Passing
Austin Peay Receiving
Austin Peay Rushing
|Sack-Adj Rush Yd(Avg)||111 (4.3)||138 (3.8)|
|Time of Poss||37:01||22:59|
|Turnovers (Def Pts Off)||6 (12)||4 (15)|
|Sacks (Def Yds)||1 (6)||5 (39)|
|TFL (Def Yds)||8 (17)||9 (47)|