CHARLESTON, Ill.—Tremayne Townsend recovered Travorus Bess’ fumble at the six-yard line with 35 seconds left as Austin Peay State University held off Eastern Illinois, 15-13, in Ohio Valley Conference action on a cold, blustery afternoon at O’Brien Stadium.
The victory improved APSU to 2-8 overall, 2-5 in the OVC. Eastern Illinois slips to 4-7, also 2-5 in the OVC. It snapped a six-game losing streak in the series for the Governors and it was their first-ever win at OI’Brien Stadium.
The Governors will conclude their 2008 season 1 p.m., Saturday, against Southeast Missouri in a 1 p.m., OVC contest in Governors Stadium.
The Governors had taken the lead with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter on a Ryan White 45-yard line TD run. Then the Governors came up with a turnover, a Daniel Becker interception, with 6:04 left. APSU took nearly 3 ˝ minutes off the clock before being stopped on a fourth down play at the EIU 31.
The Panthers then marched all the way down to the APSU 19 on the arm of quarterback Darren Reeder, who completed six passes—five straight at one point—to put the ball at the 19-yard line with less than one minute left.
Needing just a field goal to win, Reeder handed the ball to Bess who burst up the middle and appeared to have a chance to take it into the end zone. However, safety Kelvin Young got his hand on the ball and dislodged it from Bess’ grasp. Townsend fell on it. From there the Governors twice took a knee as EIU used up its final timeout. As a result, it was the Govs’ first road win this season.
In the first half, the Governors jumped on top, going 35 yards on seven plays after an Eastern Illinois punt. The Govs, however, were stopped deep in EIU territory, settling for a 33-yard John Bell field goal.
But the lead didn’t last long. After a 46-yard Shawn Williams kickoff return followed by a 15-yard facemask penalty, the Panthers took over at the APSU 31-yard line. Four plays later, Chevin Walker reversed his field and got outside the Govs defense for a 20-yard score.
EIU then expanded the lead midway through the second quarter, going 12 plays for 66 yards before the defense forced EIU to settle for a 21-yard field goal.
The Govs then watched their own field goal attempt blocked from 35 yards out by All-America defensive end Pierre Walters.
As a result, the Governors and Panthers went into halftime trailing 10-3.
But early in the second half, the Governors special teams turned a blocked punt into a six points. Kevin Cook, using his rugby-style punting, had it blocked by Jay Courtney, with Ricky Thomas picking it up at the 17 and running it in for the score. However, the Govs, who have struggled with their placekicking all season, elected to go for two points. The pass failed and the Governors trailed 10-9 with 7:24 left in the third period.
But EIU again got good field position after the ensuing kickoff and EIU drove 37 yards before settling for a 35-yard field goal.
The Govs came with a drive of its own but on a third-down play inside the EIU 35 saw quarterback Trent Caffee and center Travis Dumke unable to make connections, ending in a fumble recovery by the Panthers.
But midway through the fourth quarter, the Governors’ offense finally came alive. After holding Eastern Illinois on downs, the Govs took over at their own 28-yard line and drove it the other way, with Caffee completing a key 27-yard pass to Daniel Lambert to set up the go-ahead score.
In fact, on second-and-eight from the EIU 45, Ryan White scampered around the left side, turned the corner and before he was touched was able to dive in for a TD. APSU again elected to go for two and again failed, making it a 15-13 contest.
The Governors then, using an offensive pass interference penalty, turned it into a turnover as Daniel Becker intercepted a pass near his own 40. A leaping Becker batted the ball in the air and while laying flat on his back, had the ball drop into his hand after it was tipped a second time.
White finished with 124 rushing yards—his third straight 100-yard game. Terrence Holt, who broke his own OVC kickoff return yards record in the second quarter, also had 85 yards rushing. Quarterback Trent Caffee, in windy conditions, finished 12 of 23 passing for 164 yards.
Kit Hartsfield led the Govs’ defense with nine spots, including a first-quarter end zone fumble recovery.