CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - It was a play that was a microcosm of the season.
Trailing 38-7 late in the third quarter, Saturday afternoon in Governors Stadium, Austin Peay State University's football team had erased a large part of its 31-point deficit. With the score 41-27 and the Govs sitting on the Southeast Missouri two-yard line with a little less than 3:30 left in the game, Jake Ryan handed off to Reco Williams-one of the central figures in the Govs comeback.
The burly tailback was separated from the football, with SEMO's defensive back Branden Spann picking up the ball and running 98 yards for the game-the clinching score as Redhawks defeated the Governors, 48-27, spoiling APSU's homecoming.
The loss was APSU's 10th straight defeat and 12th consecutive OVC defeat as the Govs fell to 0-8 overall and 0-6 in the league. It also was the fourth straight homecoming contest the Governors have dropped. The 27 points were the most scored by the Governors this season.
SEMO snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the OVC.
After slumbering through a first half, the Governors rode the legs of Williams, the arm of Ryan and the hands of Jake Ryan in the final 20 minutes in a furious rally. Ryan completed 19 of 31 second-half passes for 242 yards and two TDs, while Stark caught eight passes for 136 passes and two TDs. Williams bowled over SEMO defenders for 81 of his 133 rushing yards.
But the Governors were undone by three fumbles that cost them 17 points. They also were undone by SEMO's efficient first-half running game. Redhawk redshirt freshman quarterback Scott Lathrop rushed 15 times for 159 yards in the opening half, scoring twice.
It was Lathrop's first-quarter 67-yard touchdown run that literally set the game's tone. After SEMO drove 72 yards on 14 plays on its opening drive, it was the second possession that helped established the Redhawks' offensive line dominance. Under pressure while passing, Lathrop ran left and the 5-10 quarterback just dodged past Govs defenders before racing the last 40 yards into the end zone.
When the first half was completed, SEMO held the ball for more than 20 minutes, scoring on each possession in holding a 31-7 lead. The Redhawks had 259 rushing yards in the opening half.
Lathrop finished the night with 179 rushing yards-he completed just 2 of 9 passes-while tailback Levi Terrell made it four straight 100-yard rushing performances with 137 yards on 26 carries, including a pair of TDs.
Govs' sophomore safety Johnathan Shuler finished with 19 tackles, including two for loss. It was the most tackles by a Gov since Daniel Becker had 19 against Tennessee State in 2007.