NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State used a stingy defense and a 97-yard drive in the final quarter to earn a 20-6 win over Austin Peay. The two teams battled in front of 5,985 fans who endured a continual rain on Saturday afternoon at Hale Stadium.
The win gave the Tigers its first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season (1-4) as they evened their season record to 4-4. APSU is still looking for its first win of the year as they fell to 0-9, 0-6 in conference play.
Austin Peay opened fast as they marched 66 yards on 11 plays and took an early 3-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Logan Birchfield. The Governors would get the offense going again to close out the first half with a 10 play-57 yard drive which resulted in a Birchfield 22-yard field goal to cut the score to 13-6.
The Tiger defense would allow just 74 yards against them through the remainder of the game, including holding the Govs to 46 yards of total offense in the second half.
With Austin Peay leading 3-0, the TSU special teams unit earned its second blocked punt of the season as Ty Law blocked a punt allowing Gabe Terry to pull down the deflected ball at the APSU 26. The Tigers would have to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Lane Clark to tie the game at 3-3 with 5:48 remaining in the first quarter.
After the Govs held the Tigers to 17 yards in the first quarter, the offense would get things going on the first possession of the second stanza. Telvin Hooks carried the load on the drive breaking runs of 23 and 13 yards. On the runs, Hooks continued his climb up the TSU career rushing list as he passed Lee Derricks (1953-55) and Nathaniel Simpson (1973-76) moving into eighth all-time.
Later in the drive, the Tigers took its first lead of the game as O’Shay Ackerman-Carter found Joshawn Bowens for three yards in the back of the end zone with 10:30 remaining in the half, 10-3. The touchdown was the sixth for the redshirt-freshman quarterback and the third for the senior tight end.
With just under four minutes to go before half, the Tigers would add to its lead as Clark connected on a 38-yard field goal making the score 13-3. The Govs would take over for the final drive of the half.
The Tigers held strong as they stopped a third-and-goal from inside the one with seconds left on the clock. APSU tried to run a quick play before the Tigers could get set and before the clock would run out before half time. The Govs could not get the play off in time, but the officials deemed a player was injured player on the field and added two seconds on the clock. The second chance was halted by a false start, pushing the ball back five yards leaving the Birchfield field goal as the only option.
The score remained at 13-6 until the Tigers took over the ball at its own three yard line with 10:22 remaining in regulation. TSU proceeded to shave just under nine minutes off the clock as they moved all the way across the field in 15 plays, 13 of which were runs. The Tigers jumped out to a 20-6 advantage as Erick Evans broke through the left side of the line for 25 yards and his third touchdown of the season.
Evans finished the game with 13 rushes and a game high 83 yards. Hooks added 76 yards on 18 carries and surpassed Larry Kinnebrew (1978-82) to become the seventh all-time leading rusher at TSU.
Kendall Morris led the Govs with 76 yards on 18 carries, but was held to one yard on six rushes in the second half.
In his return, Ackerman-Carter finished the contest 13-of-26 for 76 yards a touchdown and an interception.
Freshman Blair Edwards entered the game midway through the first quarter in place of Van Williams who left due to injury. Edwards went on to record 13 tackles, six solo, to lead the Tigers defense.
The Tigers will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 7 as they host Murray State at 2:30 p.m. in Hale Stadium.
TSU’s captains were Dinsdale Jackson, Joe Bowens, Aaron Woods and O’Shay Ackerman-Carter … Austin Peay won the coin toss and received the opening kickoff … 2:03 p.m. start time … Weather at time of kickoff was 63 degrees, cloudy and rainy … O’Shay Ackerman-Carter made his fifth start of the season ... Ackerman-Carter missed the two previous games due to injury … Saturday was the 18th all-time meeting between TSU and Austin Peay … TSU now leads the all-time series with Austin Peay by a 12-6 margin … Senior running back Telvin Hooks moved into seventh on TSU’s all-time career rushing list … Beginning the day ranked 10th in program history, Hooks passed Lee Derricks, Nathaniel Simpson and Larry Kinnebrew on the day. Hooks now has 1,698 career yards … Tennessee State was playing its first game at Hale Stadium on campus this season after hosting two home games at Nissan Stadium … TSU moves to 2-0 when leading at the half this season ... On Sept. 12, the Tigers led Jackson State by a 21-9 margin at the half in a 35-25 victory.
TSU Head Coach Rod Reed
“I’d just like to say I’m proud of these guys for going out and fighting hard. We had a lot of things working against us today. We’ve got a lot of injuries. Our guys did a really good job. We made some adjustments at halftime to stop the run. I thought our defense did a good job and the offense came alive in the second half. That last drive was huge, and it was great to see our offense take it down there and stick it in the end zone.”
“These guys have a no-quit attitude. They came in last week, and I look at all of them in the eyes on Sunday just to see where their disposition is. These guys get up. We know we’re a good football team, and we’ve had some things work against us. Through all the injuries, these guys keep plugging, and I’m proud of them for that."
-- On overcoming injuries
“I thought he played well. All-in-all, he protected the football. He had one bad read, but you have to knock a little bit of rust off. He hasn’t played in a few weeks, and he’ll get better from here. We need to continue to get him healthy.”
-- On the play of quarterback O’Shay Ackerman-Carter
TSU Redshirt Freshman Quarterback O’Shay Ackerman-Carter
“I feel like I played pretty well for not playing for a few weeks. We started off a little slow, but as the game continued, we kept fighting and got it done.”
-- On his performance
“The offensive line did a tremendous job. Give credit to Coach (Russ) Ehrenfeld, he’s a great coach. I told them in the huddle, ‘this is your drive. Make it happen,’ And they did.”
-- On the play of the line.
TSU Freshman Linebacker Blair Edwards
“Coach told us he was going to give us the game plan. It was up to us to go out there and do what we do, and we did it."
-- On the defense.
“I started from the bottom. I started on scout team and worked my way up. A couple linebackers got hurt and it was up to me to step up.”
-- On the next-man-up mentality of the defense
TSU Junior Defensive Back Ty Law III
“We take special teams really seriously here. Coach Sanders does a good job setting us up at the beginning of the week, and he stresses we need to get in there and go for it. We got in there today so it worked out.”
-- On the importance of special teams
“On film, it’s been exposed all year. We saw that we could take advantage of that so it opened up. I didn’t really get a rub on me, so I just went right through the middle."
-- On his blocked punt
“I felt like it was huge. Momentum jumped on our side, and we got our first points. The offense started rolling a little bit in the first half after that, so I think it was pretty big.
-- How the block punt affected the game
TSU Redshirt Senior Running Back Telvin Hooks
“I’ve had some great offensive lineman for the past four years and they just block for me and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. Without them, I can’t do what I did.”
-- On moving into seventh on TSU’s all-time rushing list
“You have to buckle down when you see this rain because you know you’re going to have to run the ball a lot, and I think Erick (Evans) and I did a great job of handling that. I appreciate the offensive line grinding even though it’s been a rough start for us with the run game but today we came out and had to do it.”
-- On today’s rainy conditions
TSU Sophomore Linebacker Chris Collins
“I feel like we played great together as a team. Everyone was doing their part and not trying to do too much. It all came together. I feel like our defensive line played great and our two freshmen outside linebackers both played really well. A lot of people were nervous but Blair Edwards and Demetro Stephens came to play and stepped up big time for us.”
-- On the play of the defense
“By the end of the game, they started helping me out. Helping me get lined up and toward the fourth quarter we were basically just agreeing with each other and they would tell me what they saw before the play.”
-- On the play of freshmen Blair Edwards and Demetro Stephens, Jr.
TSU Redshirt Freshman Center Thomas Burton
“I think it’s big for him to be able to accomplish that, not only for himself but as a unit. It speaks volumes for the o-line and for him.”
-- On Telvin Hooks moving up TSU’s all-time rushing list
“We have trust in everybody. Coach believes in us and trusts in us to just go out there and play.”
-- On different offensive linemen stepping up