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Austin Peay Football’s Offense sputters in season opener against Mercer

Austin Peay Sports Information

Austin Peay State University Governors - APSUClarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University football team had opportunities in its season-opening loss to Mercer, but was unable to capitalize and found itself on the wrong side of a 28-7 result.

The Govs caught an early break when Damien Whitfield [1] forced a fumble inside their own 40, which Demarion Allen [2] fell on for the Govs.

Austin Peay Football drops season opener Saturday to Mercer. [3]

Austin Peay Football drops season opener Saturday to Mercer.

However, after the ensuing three-and-out, freshman Nolan Chowbay [4]—filling in at punter for the injured Evan Toby [5]—faked the punt and was summarily stuffed at the line of scrimmage to give Mercer strong starting field position.

The Governors defense held strong again, and Mercer’s fourth-down and four pass attempt was broken up by junior Roderick Owens [6] deep in enemy territory. The Govs would hold the Bears scoreless in the first quarter, with a Tee Mitchell 29-yard run the only true big play allowed by the Governor defense.

Mercer would score the opening salvo, with Alex Lakes crashing into the end zone from a yard out to cap an 11-play, 73-yard drive early in the second quarter.

The Govs would find their way into Mercer territory for the first time on the next drive, with senior Trey Taylor [7] finding freshmen Juwan Davis [8] for eight yards and Jim Irwin [9] for nine and Otis Gerron [10] adding a 14-yard run of hi8s own. However, the drive stalled just over midfield and the Govs would punt, with Chowbay pinning the Bears deep after getting a friendly bounce on the punt.

APSU quarterback Trey Taylor was 22 of 32 for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception against Mercer. [11]

APSU quarterback Trey Taylor was 22 of 32 for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception against Mercer.

Austin Peay would force another turnover in the second quarter via Benedict Louis [12]‘ forced fumble and would once more march into Mercer territory. The Govs would even the score thanks to a 22-yard strike from Taylor to Jared Beard [13] and take the game into halftime tied at seven after Mercer’s Jagger Lieb missed a 45-yard field goal to end Mercer’s final first-half drive.

Beard was targeted early and often, with the work he and Taylor did over the summer evident on Saturday. The sophomore from Murfreesboro had one of his best nights in a Governor uniform, posting seven catches for 85 yards.

Mercer would take the opening kickoff of the second half and march methodically down the field, with Lakes punching it in again from a yard out to put an exclamation point on the nine-play, 62-yard drive.

After a pooch punt attempt by Taylor was blocked, Mercer took over near midfield and marched on a Governors defense that spent a lot of time on the field Saturday—the Bears controlled possession with a 31:57 time of possession mark. However, Lieb missed again from 45 yards out as the Govs caught another break.

The Govs defense continued to hold in the second half, and in the fourth quarter Taylor found momentum. Marching the Govs deep into Mercer territory, Taylor attempted to find Gerron on an inside screen only to have the ball carom off his hands and into the waiting arms of Lee Bennett to halt a promising Governors drive.

Emboldened by the break, Mercer marched down the field and gave themselves some breathing space on the scoreboard when John Russ hung in the pocket against a heavy Austin Peay pass rush and completed a pass to Tee Mitchell, who rumbled untouched 42 yards to make it 21-7 Bears.

Mitchell added another touchdown jaunt, from a yard out, late in the game to seal the victory for the Bears.

The Difference

Losing senior tackle Bernard Gauldin [15] early to a foot injury was bound to hurt the Govs and it showed on the stat sheet, as Austin Peay mustered just 56 yards on the ground. Conversely, Mercer gained 261 yards rushing, paced by Lakes (159 yards) and Mitchell (101).

Coaching Quotables

“I thought our kids showed some mental and physical toughness. We had a couple of bad plays but they responded well. It was certainly a different performance than we had a year ago against these guys; in that regard, we’re much improved on both sides of the ball, in some ways. But the offensive effort we had tonight isn’t going to win many games.” – Head Coach Kirby Cannon [16]

Who’s Next?

The Govs face Southern Miss in a 2:30pm, September 12th contest in Hattiesburg, MS. The Golden Eagles face Mississippi State in their season opener—a game that was not finished at press time.

Box Score

Mercer (1-0) -VS- Austin Peay (0-1)

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Mercer 0 7 7 14 28
Austin Peay 0 7 0 0 7

 


Scoring Summary

Time Scoring Play MER APSU
2nd 13:41 MER – Alex Lakes 1 yd run (Jagger Lieb kick ), 11 plays, 73 yards, TOP 4:46 7 0
2nd 02:38 APSU – BEARD,Jared 22 yd pass from TAYLOR,Trey (BIRCHFIELD,Loga kick ) 8 plays, 62 yards, TOP 3:47 7 7
3rd 11:08 MER – Alex Lakes 1 yd run (Jagger Lieb kick ), 9 plays, 62 yards, TOP 3:42 14 7
4th 06:26 MER – Tee Mitchell 42 yd pass from John Russ (Jagger Lieb kick ) 8 plays, 78 yards, TOP 3:30 21 7
4th 01:49 MER – Tee Mitchell 1 yd run (Jagger Lieb kick ), 5 plays, 78 yards, TOP 3:05 28 7
28 7

 

Team Stats

MER APSU
First Downs
Total 22 16
Rushing 10 4
Passing 7 10
Penalty 5 2
Rushing
Total (Net) 261 56
Attempts 45 33
Avg. Per Rush 5.8 1.7
Rushing TDs 3 0
Yds. Gained 271 82
Yds. Lost 10 26
Passing
Total (Net) 176 188
Comp.-Att.-Int. 17-27-0 20-33-1
Avg. / Att. 6.5 5.7
Avg. / Comp. 10.4 9.4
TDs 1 1
Total Offense
Yards 437 244
Plays 72 66
Avg. / Play 6.1 3.7
Fumbles – Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties – Yds. 4-40 5-41
Punting
Punts – Yds. 2-85 7-202
Avg. / Punt 42.5 28.9
Inside 20 0 2
50+ Yds. 0 0
Touchbacks 1 0
Fair Catch 0 1
Kickoffs
Total – Yds. 5-319 2-111
Avg. Yds. / Kickoff 63.8 55.5
Touchbacks 2 0
Returns
Punt: Total – Yds. – TDs 4-11-0 1-5-0
Punt: Avg. / Return 2.8 5.0
Kickoff: Total – Yds. – TDs 2-50-0 2-45-0
Kickoff: Avg. / Return 25.0 22.5
INT: Total – Yds. – TDs 1-0-0 0-0-0
Fumble: Total – Yds. – TDs 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous
Misc. Yards 0 0
Poss. Time 31:57 28:03
3rd. Down Conv. 9 of 15 7 of 15
4th. Down Conversions 1 of 2 0 of 1
Red-Zone: Scores – Chances 3-3 0-0
Sacks: Total – Yds. 1-7 0-0
PAT: Total – Made 4-4 1-1
Field Goals: Total – Made 0-2 0-0