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Wilson, Govs roll up impressive numbers in opener

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The Mark Hudspeth era is off to quite the start.

A 24-point second quarter turned a close contest into demolition, and Austin Peay walked away with its first season-opening win since 2010 in a 41-10 romp against North Carolina Central that doubled as Hudspeth’s first win as Austin Peay head coach—the first Austin Peay coach to emerge victorious in his debut since 2007.

The first half was the DeAngelo Wilson Show. Somehow, every the Govs got the ball, there went Wilson sprinting through the defense on his way to the end zone. The junior from Bowling Green notched touchdown receptions of 25, 40 and 29 yards—all in the opening 30 minutes—and rolled up all six catches for 106 yards in the first half. Austin Peay’s leading returning receiver from 2018 is now the first Gov since… DJ Montgomery, a whole five games ago (Oct. 27, 2018 against Tennessee Tech).

The Govs showed they had plenty in the bag for the opener. All-American Kentel Williams got his touches (12 carries for 139 yards, then an additional four catches for 26 yards)—his 11.6 yards per carry mark on the evening gives him an 8.4 ypc mark over the past 10 games. And if the Govs weren’t feeding their All-OVC back, they had trickeration aplenty—Wilson’s second touchdown catch of the evening was the result of a Williams-to-Baniko Harley reverse wide receiver pass that saw Harley, the former quarterback, launch a left-handed rocket 40 yards into Wilson’s outstretched arms.

Much of this was the result of a line which controlled the point of attack and dictated the momentum when the Govs had the ball. Austin Peay as a team averaged just under six yards per carry and tallied 291 yards on 49 attempts, gouging the Eagle defense for 11 runs of 10 yards or longer.

Add it all up, mix in a defense that surrendered less than two yards per carry and you’ve got a dominating performance on your hands.

North Carolina Central got on the board first, but they didn’t have the lead for long. Less than a minute after taking the ensuing kickoff, junior quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall had engineered a six-play, 59-yard drive that saw him hit Wilson from 25 yards out for six. Following a brief five-play Eagle drive, the Govs had the ball back and embarked on a 10-play march that stretched into the second quarter and saw Logan Birchfield convert a field goal from 27 yards out.

And then the rout was on.

40 yards from Harley to Wilson. Six.

29 yards from Oatsvall to Wilson. Money.

For the sake of variety, an eight-yard fade from Oatsvall to Keenan Barnes for a score that allowed the Govs to enter halftime with a 31-3 lead.

In the second half, Birchfield would nail a career-long 49-yard field goal to get things going and Ahmaad Tanner would plunge in the last of his 12 carries for 66 yards into the end zone for a touchdown to put the Govs up 41-3. A late North Carolina Central score may have dented the final, but not the psyche of the Governors following a successful first foray into 2019.

Oatsvall finished 24-of-39 passing for 232 yards and three scores, and we’ve barely mentioned him, his supporting cast was so good. In addition to tossing a touchdown pass, Harley caught four passes for 68 yards. Linebacker Pat Walker led the way with seven tackles, including 1.5 for loss—part of a 10-TFL day for the defense. It was quite a party, and we’ll do it again next week, 2 p.m., Sept. 7 against Central Arkansas.

Hear it from Head Coach Mark Hudspeth

On the offensive line

“When you’ve got so many new starters who have only played together for about four weeks, sometimes that’s a concern. But they’re only going to get better as the season goes along, and when we do execute you well, you can see what we can do, which you saw in the second quarter.”

On defending the run

“If we can play the run like we did tonight, then we’ll have a chance to be in a lot of games. That was a pretty impressive performance by our defensive line and our front seven. We tackled well; I thought we took our gaps and played soundly. There are things we can clean up and improve upon, but I was really proud of the way we tackled and ran to the ball.”

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