NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee State returned to Hale Stadium in grand fashion as they defeated Austin Peay 34-14 to open up Ohio Valley Conference play Saturday afternoon.
The crowd of 14,264 saw Austin Peay take an early 7-0 lead as quarterback Jake Ryan connected with receiver Devin Starks, who made a one-handed catch, for a 20-yard touchdown. Three plays earlier, TSU was called for a roughing the kicker penalty on an Austin Peay punt near mid-field, which extended the drive.
The Tigers would get on the scoreboard for the first time via the foot of Jamin Godfrey as he made a 43-yard field goal in the final minute of the first quarter.
TSU took their first lead of the contest when quarterback Michael German found receiver Travis James in the right corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown. The scoring play was set up by a 15-yard Austin Peay personal foul penalty the play before. The Tigers led 9-7 after the missed extra point.
With 3:32 left until halftime, the Govs connection of Ryan and Stark struck again, this time from eight yards out to give Austin Peay a 14-9 halftime advantage.
Ryan finished 25-of-48 for 271 yards and two touchdowns, while Stark had nine catches to go along with a game-high 124 yards and two touchdowns.
The only score of the third quarter went to Tennessee State as Trabis Ward scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season, this one coming from two yards out. German found Weldon Garlington for the 2-point conversion to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead that they would not relinquish.
On the drive, Travis James set a new career-high with his sixth catch of the game. The senior from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., finished with a career best nine catches for 109 yards and a touchdown to become the first TSU player with over 100 receiving yards in a game this season.
Early in the fourth quarter, German threw a four yard touchdown pass to full back Johntae Gleaves to give TSU a 10 point advantage. For the senior, it was the 14th catch of his career and his second touchdown.
With 7:06 left in the 4th quarter, Godfrey hit his second field goal of the game, this one from 39 yards out, to extend the TSU lead to 27-14.
Steven Godbolt III intercepted a Austin Peay pass in the end zone with 4:44 remaining in the game to end a Governors drive. It was his third interception of the season and continued his streak of one interception in each game this season.
The final score of the game saw German throw a 51 yard catch and run touchdown to A.C. Leonard to make it 34-14 with 2:12 left in the game. Leonard finished with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
German had a career best 27 completions in addition to a career-high 318 yards and three touchdowns. The three scores tied his career best that he set last season vs. UT Martin.
Tennessee State travels to Daytona Beach, Fla., next week to take on Bethune-Cookman (2-1) from the MEAC. Kick off is scheduled for 3 p.m. CST.
Notes: TSU starts the season 3-0 for the first time since starting the 2008 season 4-0 ... The only other touchdown of Johntae Gleaves' career was against North Carolina A&T on Oct. 2, 2010 ... The 14,264 fans is the 21st largest crowd in Hale Stadium history ... This is the fifth straight game that TSU has not allowed a 100 yard rusher ... TSU is the only undefeated team left in the OVC ... The Tigers now lead the all-time series vs. Austin Peay 9-6 ... Austin Peay has now lost five games in a row, including seven in a row in the OVC ... The 20 point Tiger win broke a streak of four straight games between TSU and Austin Peay that were decided by exactly three points.