Austin Peay ends seven year drought against Racers

Photo by Chalice Keith, TheNews

Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor

The last time Austin Peay’s football team recorded a road win was in 2010. On Saturday night, the Governors put an end to that drought with a 27-7 win over the Racers.

The family weekend crowd was no cure for the Racers’ offense in their first conference game of the season. What looked on paper to be an opportunity for Murray State to move to 2-2 against a team they defeated 45-17 last season, never fully materialized.

The Governors wasted no time making their mark on the game, as senior receiver Kyran Moore got the Govs on the board first with a 3-yard touchdown run, followed shortly after by a field goal by sophomore kicker Logan Birchfield. Towards the end of the first, the Govs struck again, as sophomore running back Kentel Williams caught a 14-yard pass from sophomore quarterback JaVaughn Craig to give the team a commanding 17-point first quarter lead.

The succeeding quarters spelled more of the same for the Racer offense. The Governors’ defense stifled the Racers, holding them to zero first downs in the first half. A converted 22-yard field goal by Birchfield in the second quarter gave the Govs a 20-0 lead heading into the second half

Freshman running back D.J. Penick attempted to quell the onslaught by Austin Peay in the third quarter, catching a 7-yard pass by freshman quarterback Corey Newble to trim the deficit to 20-7. The Racers buckled down on the defensive end in the second half, but it was too little, too late, as a fourth quarter touchdown run by Craig sealed the game for the Govs and ended a seven year drought on the road.

Newble threw for only 50 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the Racers’ loss. Craig won the throwing and rushing battles on the night, recording a touchdown and 84 yards in the air as well as 103 yards on the ground. Head Coach Mitch Stewart said he acknowledged that Newble’s inexperience would play a role coming into Saturday’s game.

“I knew we were going to have some struggles just starting a freshman quarterback; we knew that going into it,” Stewart said. “But we’ve got to be able to find a way to effectively run the football, and if we can’t do that then nothing else is going to work.”

Saturday’s win was the second straight for Austin Peay, who hasn’t won two games in a single season since 2012. Stewart praised his team’s performance on the defensive end, but said his offense has to step up.

“I thought defensively we played really well,” Stewart said. “I think defensively this whole year we’ve played really well. Offensively, obviously we were abysmal. Obviously we’ve got to make some changes in the things that we’re doing and the way that we’re doing them.”

Racer fans will have the chance to see if those changes come to fruition when the team kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30 against the 19th-ranked University of Louisville. The game will be broadcasted on Fox Sports South.