RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University built a 24-7 third quarter lead, but couldn’t hold off a comeback by Austin Peay State University in a 31-24 Ohio Valley Conference loss on Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.
APSU quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall finished off an 8-play, 62-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 53 seconds left in the game to break a 24-24 tie.
EKU drove to the Governor 35 yard line, but a first down pass to the end zone was intercepted with 25 seconds remaining.
The Colonels scored on each of their first three possessions of the game to build a 14-0 lead. Eastern started the game by driving 54 yards on 10 plays to grab a 3-0 advantage after a 21-yard Lucas Williams field goal. The drive was set up by a 34-yard kickoff return by LJ Scott.
Austin Peay (7-4, 6-1 OVC) moved the ball to the EKU 30 yard line on its first possession, but Jordan Whitfield forced a fumble and Ben Bascom returned it 37 yards to set up another scoring drive. The offense moved 35 yards on seven plays for a touchdown. Tim Boyle completed all five pass attempts on the drive and finished it off with a 9-yard scoring pass to Ryan Markush. Freshman Alonzo Booth added a two-point conversion.
Eastern’s third possession began with 18 seconds left in the first quarter and ended with 8:45 left in the second. Williams connected from 33 yards out to cap a 16-play, 73-yard drive that chewed up 6:38. The field goal pushed the lead to 14-0.
After APSU got on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run by Ahmaad Tanner, the Governors forced EKU to punt on its ensuing possession and began to swing momentum their way. However, the Colonel defense came up big itself. The second sack of the game by Luder Jean Louis forced Austin Peay to punt and Eastern took over with 1:09 left in the first half.
Boyle got the drive off to a good start by completing passes of 13, 18 and 14 yards. Scott turned what could have ended in another field goal attempt into a shot at a touchdown with a 26-yard run to the eight yard line. Three plays later Boyle found Markush over the middle from seven yards out. The extra-point made it 21-7 at halftime. The drive covered 73 yards on nine plays in just 1:06, and left only three seconds on the clock in the second quarter.
The Governors began to mount a comeback in the third. Kyran Moore caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Oatsvall with 9:53 left in the third to cut the deficit to 10, 24-14. Oatsvall found DJ Montgomery in the end zone from 17 yards away with 12:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. The extra-point made it a three-point game.
The visitors tied the score on a 42-yard field goal by Cole Phillips with 5:22 left.
The Governors finished with 443 yards of offense, with 240 coming on the ground. Eastern had 317 yards of offense, 222 of which came from the passing game.
Boyle finished 22-of-36 for 213 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and one interception. Markush caught nine balls for 69 yards, including his two scoring grabs. Jeffrey Canady finished with 10 tackles.
Oatsvall was 11-for-15 for 203 yards and ran the ball 18 times for 64 yards. He threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran one in. Tanner had 90 yards rushing on 14 carries to go along with his touchdown run.
The Colonels (3-7, 3-5 OVC) will conclude their 2017 season at home next Saturday with a non-conference game against Saint Francis University. Kickoff at Roy Kidd Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Ryan Markush caught his eighth and ninth touchdown passes of the season and 11th and 12th of his career in the first half.
Luder Jean Louis had two first half sacks, giving him nine for the season. He added a third in the third quarter for his 10th of the season. Austin Peay entered the game having only allowed seven sacks in the first 10 games of the season. The Governors were 10th in the nation with 0.70 sacks allowed per game.
APSU’s offense entered the game as one of the best rushing teams in the nation. The Governors were first in the OVC and seventh in FCS with 254 yards per game on the ground. Austin Peay finished with 240 rushing yards on Saturday.