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Saturday, October 25th, 2014 | 2:00pm CDT
Martin,TN | Hardy Graham Stadium
Clarksville, TN – After the first quarter at Mercer, the timeline of Kirby Cannon‘s Austin Peay State University’s football rebuilding plan appeared to be pushed back. Anything and everything that could go wrong did go wrong as the Governors fell behind 28-0, that Saturday two weeks ago in Macon, GA.
Even though the Governors failed to come back and win that contest, progress was made in the last three quarters, in particular on offense. Confidence on both sides of the football grew as the game progressed, despite the final outcome.
Austin Peay Football takes on UT Martin, Saturday. (APSU Sports Information)
Last Saturday, Austin Peay football finally exorcised two years’ worth of demons that saw the Govs lose 18 straight games.
The confidence that started to build at Mercer cascaded against Murray State.
The defense, which had gone four straight games without creating a turnover, caused five against the Racers.
An offense that had scored more points at Mercer (21) than it did in the previously the entire season (19), scored 20 more against the Racers…and the Govs did it with three freshmen leading the way—a total of seven freshmen started on offense against the Racers.
Quarterback Mickey Macius completed 18-of-22 passes for 201 yards and three TDs—all to fellow freshman receiver Jared Beard, who had seven catches for 88 yards. In addition, freshman running back Otis Gerron, who ended with 131 yards on 22 carries, put the game away with a 41-yard with 1:30 left in the game.
But sports has a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” mentality. The Governors basically were allowed 24 hours or so to enjoy the victory before preparing for UT Martin.
The Govs now will see if they can carry momentum from Saturday’s victory and exorcise another demon when they face UT Martin, 2:00pm, Saturday, at Hardy Graham Stadium in Martin. The Governors have not won a road contest since September 18th, 2010—spanning 28 games, when they defeated Tennessee State at LP Field.
As young as the Governors is how veteran the Skyhawks are. They start 10 seniors, including five fifth-year seniors, and seven fourth-year juniors. Senior All-America linebacker Tony Bell, who is the program’s all-time sacks leader, has 13.5 tackles for loss, while fellow back Devontay Barnett has nine tackles for loss as well this season.
Offensively, preseason All-America candidate, tackle Charles Sweeton, anchors a front of an improving offense that has seen fourth-year junior Jarod Neal elevate his play at quarterback, completing 120 of 183 (66 percent) of his passes for 14323 yards and 11 TDs. Running back Abou Toure rush for 538 yards and three scores.
This will be the Governors first game In the eighth annual Sgt. York Trophy series, presented by Delta Dental of Tennessee.
The Sgt. York Trophy goes to the winner of the quadrangular season series between the four OVC football playing schools located in the state of Tennessee (Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin). The Governors have failed to win the trophy since its inception.
Conversely, if the Skyhawks win Saturday, it will clinch the Sgt. York trophy for them. They already have defeated both Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State—it would their third Sgt. York Trophy series title.
The contest also will be the first of three straight homecoming games for APSU. In addition, they will be Jacksonville State’s homecoming next week before hosting Tennessee State, 3:00pm, November 1st.
Austin Peay Offensive
The Govs started seven freshmen on offense against Murray State–QB Mickey Macius, RB Otis Gerron, WR Malik Boynton, WR Jared Beard, WR Wesley Thomas, TE James Coleman and OT Patrick Dalton.
After rushing for 196 yards a week ago, walk-on freshman Otis Gerron got his first college start against Murray State. He finished with 131 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Freshman quarterback Mickey Macius was selected co-OVC Newcomer of the Week as Tennessee Sportswriters Assocation Offensive Player of the Week after completing 18-of-22 passes for 201 yards and three TDs. The 81.8 percent passing was the Govs’ first 80 percent passing effort since Jesse Kellogg completed 87.5 percent (21 of 24) against Kentucky Wesleyan, September 27th, 2003.
Freshman Mickey Macius completed his first seven passes against Murray State. His first incompletion was a dropped past late in the second quarter. He ended the first half 8-of-9 passing for 101 yards.
Jared Beard’s three touchdown receptions against Murray State marked the first time since Devin Stark recorded three touchdown catches against Tennessee Tech, November 17th, 2012, that an APSU receiver had three or scoring single-game catches. Beard finished the night with seven catches for 88 yards.
Austin Peay owned its largest time of possession 37:37 (22:23 for Murray State) while also running a season-high 73 plays against the Racers.
After scoring 19 total points in the first five games, APSU scored 41 in the last two contests, including 20 against Murray State.
Austin Peay Defense
With Murray State using a four-receiver set against the Governors abandoned their normal 4-2-5 defensive set for a 3-2-6 alignment, resulting in Rod Owens gaining a secondary start in place of a defensive end. All Owens did was intercepted a pair of passes and recover a fumble.
After going four straight games without creating a turnover the Govs forced five turnovers–two interceptions and three fumble recoveries against Murray State. As a result, they have gone from minus-six in turnover margin to minus-three.
When Rod Owens intercepted a KD Humphries pass late in the second quarter, it was APSU first turnover forced since Week 2 against Chattanooga.
Austin Peay’s first three interceptions this season came from the same person, Rod Owens.
Owens two interceptions were APSU’s first multiple interception performance since Jason Vanatta had two against Murray State, October 4th, 2008.
Redshirt junior inside linebacker Adam Noble recorded a career-high 10 tackles against Murray State–the 10 stops tied for second most among Govs this season. Those 10 stops also gave him 39 overall this season, a career high for stops barely halfway into the season.
Senior cornerback Buddy Mitchell had a productive night against Murray State, recording eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He also had two quarterback hurries on cornerback blitzes.
Five of Austin Peay’s top six tacklers against Murray State were secondary members–Buddy Mitchell (8), Montez Carlton (7), Johnathan Shuler (7), Roderick Owens (7) and Damien Whitfield (5).
Radio • Governors Sports Network Play-by-Play: David Loos Analyst: Van Stokes
Govs On The Web
Video – Kirby Cannon
About APSU Sports Information
Austin Peay State University Sports Information provides the latest news and updates on the Athletic endeavors of the student-athletes at APSU. Under the direction of Brad Kirtley, the APSU SID’s office consists of Cody Bush, and Colby Wilson. To contact the APSU Sports Information office, contact, 931.221.7561.