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Austin Peay State University Football’s defense stifles Tennessee State in 36-7 Win at Nissan Stadium

APSU FootballNashville, TN – Another stellar defensive day saw the Austin Peay State University (APSU) football team turn four miscues into 23 points as it posted an impressive 36-7 Ohio Valley Conference victory against Tennessee State, Saturday, at Nissan Stadium.

The game’s tone, which saw the defenses allow no first downs on the first five drives, turned in an instant. On Tennessee State’s third drive, quarterback Germey Hickbottom was injured on a 3rd-and-9 run. On the ensuing punt attempt, Austin Peay State University freshman Drae McCray broke through the TSU line, cleanly blocked the kick, and then scooped up the loose ball, which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown.

2021-22 APSU Football - Drae McCray. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Hickbottom would not return to the game for Tennessee State (5-5, 3-3 OVC) and the Tigers offense suffered as a result. Tennessee State would not record a first down until its next-to-last drive of the first half and its 23rd play of the game. Austin Peay State University’s defense also forced its three takeaways after his departure and held TSU to 194 offensive yards.

2021-22 APSU Football - Draylen Ellis. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Austin Peay (5-5, 3-2 OVC) wouldn’t see its offense truly gain traction until late in the first quarter when quarterback Draylen Ellis led a 13-play, 50-yard drive that only bogged down just outside the TSU red zone. Ultimately, kicker Maddux Trujillo’s 42-yard field goal put the first offensive points on the board for a 10-0 lead.

The Governors would extend the lead just before halftime when Jack McDonald intercepted a pass in APSU territory and returned it to midfield. Two plays later, Ellis found a streaking Baniko Harley for a 51-yard touchdown and a 17-0 halftime lead.

2021-22 APSU Football - Baniko Harley. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)After the break, Austin Peay State University took the opening drive 57 yards down the field, and Trujillo’s 44-yard field goal pushed the advantage to 20-0.

However, Tennessee State would turn the ball over on each of its next two drives, and Austin Peay would take advantage each time. McDonald recovered a fumble with 6:19 left in the third quarter, and Ellis capped a 5-play, 56-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. Troy Henderson Jr. intercepted a pass on the first play of the next TSU drive, and Trujillo capped the resulting drive with a 39-yard field goal for a 29-0 lead.

We knew what kind of weapons they had that could pose a lot of issues for us, but I think our defensive staff was hungry to show that first time around was not our standard of performance and I thought Coach Kappas had a great game plan coming into this one and made great adjustments all night long… Offensively, I felt like there were some things that we missed in the first game that we did a good job of making adjustments today. Our defensive performance and effort was just stellar overall.

APSU Football head coach Scotty Walden

The Governors would tack on another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Ellis found Harley for a 39-yard completion and followed it with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Eugene Minter with 9:06 left to finish out the Govs’ scoring and extend the lead to 36-0.

2021-22 APSU Football - Jack McDonald. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Tennessee State’s offense found traction in the fourth quarter as Chayil Garnett, who took over to start the second half, settled into the game. He led Tennessee State into Austin Peay State University territory for only the fourth time in the game on what proved to be the Tigers’ final possession. On 4th-and-10 near midfield, he found Jalen Rouse on a 40-yard completion to get the ball to the APSU 5-yard line. After an unsportsmanlike penalty helped extend the drive, Garnett found Zaire Thornton for a touchdown to close the scoring.

Austin Peay State University held Tennessee State to seven points or less for only the second time in program history. McDonald finished with an interception, a fumble recovered, and five tackles. Henderson added an interception, two tackles for loss, a sack, and six tackles.

We pounded the ball and it cleared up shots for us to throw deep balls. I thank our offensive line, the receivers on the perimeter and the running backs in pass protection did a great job. Overall, it was a great win.

APSU quarterback Draylen Ellis

Ellis led the Govs offense with an 18-for-31, 293-yard passing day that included a pair of touchdown throws and a touchdown run. Harley ended the game with 148 receiving yards on five receptions, including his touchdown. Trujillo connected on 3-fo-4 field goals and three PATs to finish with 12 points.

Scoring Summary

APSU 7, TSU 0Drae McCray broke through the middle of the Tennessee State line on a punt attempt, cleanly blocked the TSU punt, picked up the loose ball, and returned it 20 yards for the game’s first touchdown. It was the Govs’ first blocked punt return for a touchdown since 2009. Maddux Trujillo converted the extra point to give APSU the early lead.

APSU 10, TSU 0 – After the APSU defense held TSU to a three-and-out on a drive that started at midfield, the Govs began on its 25-yard line. Brian Snead opened the drive with a 22-yard run and later converted a 4th-and-4 with a seven-yard run. The Govs also converted a 4th-and-1 thanks to an Ahmaad Tanner two-yard run. Austin Peay got to the Tennessee State but faced a 4th-and-6 and relied on the Trujillo’s leg for a 42-yard field goal conversion to cap the drive.

APSU 17, TSU 0 – The APSU Govs defense again came up big as Jack McDonald intercepted a pass to halt a drive that had just entered Austin Peay territory. Austin Peay needed just two plays with its only positive play of the drive coming on a 51-yard pass play as Draylen Ellis found Baniko Harley down the Govs’ sideline at the 29-yard line, and the APSU Govs graduate receiver shed a would-be tackler for the touchdown. The Trujillo PAT gave Austin Peay a 17-0 lead at halftime.

APSU 20, TSU 0 – On the second half’s opening drive, Austin Peay State University got into Tennessee State territory courtesy of a 45-yard Ellis-to-McCray completion that saw McCray out-battle a TSU defender for the catch. However, the Govs could not move the ball further down the field, and Trujillo connected on a 45-yard field goal to extend the lead.

APSU 26, TSU 0 – Austin Peay State University’s defense forced another Tennessee State turnover on the ensuing drive, with McDonald recovering an unforced fumble. The Govs opened the drive with a 53-yard Ellis-to-Harley completion to move the ball inside the TSU five-yard line. On 4th-and-Goal from the TSU 7-yard line, Ellis ran over the left end and into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of the season.

APSU 29, TSU 0 – The Governors third takeaway of the game – a Troy Henderson Jr. interception – set the offense up at the TSU 28-yard line. Austin Peay moved the ball inside the TSU 10-yard line before a sack pushed them into 4th-and-long as the quarter ended. After the break, Trujillo connected on his third field goal of the day – from 39 yards out – to extend the lead further.

APSU 36, TSU 0 – Pinned inside its 10-yard line after a penalty on a punt return, Austin Peay needed only three plays to traverse 92 yards for the fourth touchdown of the day. On the second play of the drive, Harley made a spectacular catch of an Ellis pass for a 39-yard completion to midfield. On the next play, Ellis found Eugene Minter sprinting down the TSU sideline for a 50-yard touchdown completion with Trujillo tacking on the PAT.

APSU 36, TSU 7 – Tennessee State broke up the Govs shutout bid on their final drive. Chayil Garnett quarterbacked the nine-play, 57-yard drive for the Tigers. He connected on a 40-yard pass play to Jalen Rouse on 4th-and-10 to get the ball to the APSU 5-yard line. Four plays later, he found Zaire Thornton for a six-yard touchdown completion with James Lowry connecting on the PAT. 

Next Up For APSU Football

The Austin Peay State University football team closes out its 2021 season when it hosts Tennessee Tech on Saturday, November 20th contest at Fortera Stadium. The kickoff is at 2:00pm. The Governors will recognize their senior class before kickoff.

Box  Score

Austin Peay 36, Tennessee State 7

  1 2 3 4 Final
Austin Peay 7 10 9 10 36
Tennessee State 0 0 0 7 7


Game Stats

Game Stats
92 90
58 54
Attack Errors
19 20
Total Attacks
150 156
Hitting %
.260 .218
52 50
Service Aces
4 9
Service Errors
7 7
Block Solo
3 1
Block Assist
10 10
Block Errors
0 0
72 66
Total Blocks
13.0 11.0
Reception Errors
9 4
Ball Handling Errors
1 3

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