After a disappointing week two, this past weekend sure had fireworks. Three games came down to the final minute, in what surely could be THE week we go back to as the most exciting of the OVC schedule.
Austin Peay falls to Chattanooga 42-10
The headline from Austin Peay on this game: Offense sputters in Govs loss at Chattanooga.
Alternate Headline: Defense run over in Govs loss at Chattanooga.
Take your pick.
Austin Peay allows 270 yards of rushing, only gain 210 yards of total offense, as the Mocs dominate the Governors in only game against and non-conference FCS opponent. The quarterback situation remains a mess: Andrew Spivey, named the started after week 2, goes 7-17 for 61 yards and an interception. Jacob Sexton does hit 5 of 7, but just 33 yards through the air. The protection wasn’t bad, as the offensive line allows just one sack.
The defense wasn’t much better: Chattanooga hits 15 of 20 passes, averages six yards a rush, and were only forced to punt three times in the game.
Coastal Carolina routs #25 Eastern Kentucky 51-32
The big test for the Colonels and boy did they fail. The top rush defense in the conference allowed 339 yards on the ground, 631 yards total as EKU fell to Coastal Carolina. The defense’s performance was the worse in Roy Kidd Stadium history as those 631 yards go into the EKU record book.
Just 90 seconds into the game, EKU was down after a 45 yard touchdown run by Lorenzo Taliaferro, he would finish with a game high 174 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns.
The Colonels would fight back, down 14-0 the Colonels would string together 24 straight points to lead midway through the second quarter.
Then the wheels fell off as the Chanticleers would reel off 37 straight points to pull away for the win.
For the Colonels, quarterback Jared McClain led the way on the ground with 93 yards which is troubling for a team that loves to run the ball. McClain was 15 for 34 for 233 yards and two touchdowns while throwing an interception.
Tennessee Tech holds on at Hampton 30-27
If you don’t look past the score, this isn’t a great sign. Hampton wasn’t a great team last year, TTU blew them out (although that game was in Cookeville) and as we remember, Tennessee Tech didn’t exactly end up with a great season.
But while TTU held off a late rally, The Golden Eagles didn’t look particularly bad, expect for one major area: turnovers. Tennessee Tech lost three fumbles in the game, which led to 17 points for the Pirates. Without those, TTU might have won easily over Hampton again.
Quarterback Darian Stone had a unremarkable night in the air, finishing 14-28 for 158 yards, and ran the ball 16 times for 52 yards. The defense was terrific against the run, holding Hampton to under two yards a rush, and held the Pirates under 200-yards in the air.
Clean up the turnovers, and TTU could make a little bit more noise this year.
Murray State scores in final minute to win.
The Racers somehow pulled this game out, if it wasn’t for All-American Walter Powell this team would be 1-2. This was Powell’s final stats: 11 receptions for 155 yards and 4 touchdowns PLUS 3 kickoff returns for 151 yards and a touchdown.
The Racers were beaten almost everywhere on the field but got the win, lets see how they got it done. The game was a back and forth affair with neither side getting ahead by more than one possession.
After allowing a potential game-winning touchdown with 2:55 left, the Racers marched down the field and on fourth down and ten at the Bears 15, Maikhail Miller found Powell for the touchdown on the fade.
This was a victory for the Racers but the stats are troubling for the new defense. 578 yards allowed, 366 yards allowed on the ground, 34 first downs (compared to just 15 for the Racers) and a possession time of 42 to 18 for Missouri State. A win is a win, but the Racers barely pulled it out.
#9 Eastern Illinois routs rival
If Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t get OVC offensive player of the week, I don’t know what the senior quarterback has to do. Garoppolo threw for 416 yards and 6 touchdowns in the first half as the Panthers destroyed their rival Illinois State.
After a less that thrilling defensive performance the previous week, the Panthers would rebound by forcing four Redbird turnovers.
After allowing an opening drive touchdown, the Panthers would score 27 straight points in the first quarter with Garoppolo tossing all four of the touchdowns. Illinois State would get a field goal midway through the second quarter to end the streak but the Panthers would start a new one and reel off for 17 more points to lead 44-10 at the half.
Garoppolo would finish the night 26 of 41 for 480 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The other news of the night was wide receiver Erik Lora. In the second quarter, Lora became the OVC’s all-time receptions leader. Lora would finish the night with 10 receptions for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns.
UT Martin blocks field goal to hang on
The home opener for the Skyhawks was a doozy to say the least but UTM would boost their FCS playoff resume as they defeated their second ranked FCS opponent of the season in thrilling fashion.
Leading 24-21 with 35 seconds left and in their own endzone, Head Coach Jason Simpson had his punter run around and the take an intentional safety to make it 24-23. “The bottom line is if we punt it out of there, (UCA) get it on our side of the 50. You give up the points and a field goal beats you but I thought it was worth is to get the to the other side.”
That call almost cost the coach as Central Arkansas marched down the field in the final seconds and had a chance to win the game on a 42 yard attempt. There the Skyhawks had their big push and J’vontez Blackmon came up with the blocked field goal that send the fans into a craze.
Offensively the Skyhawks used Dylan Favre for all but a handful of plays and yet Simpson wouldn’t name him their starter saying Favre needs to earn his trust more before he turns the quarterback loose. Tonight’s performance for Favre was his best yet as a Skyhawk. 14 of 19 for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 78 yards on 20 carries.
Tennessee State turns over Jackson State 26-16
Michael German‘s return under center was…rough, to be kind. After Tennessee State struggled to move the ball in the first half, the former starter took back his place on the field, but connected on just 4-14 passes. Thankfully for the Tigers, TSU forces six turnovers in a sloppy 10-point win over Jackson State.
The Tigers had a solid night on the ground, rushing the ball 44 times for 174 yards, but the offense was stuck in neutral for too much of the night. Outside of the turnovers, TSU’s defense wasn’t rock solid, allowing 367 total yards.
It’s far from panic time in Nashville just yet, but German and the Tigers really have just one more week to find their legs on offense before conference play gets underway.
Jacksonville State wins in overtime against Division II North Alabama.
The Gamecocks pull one out of the fire in overtime, as a missed field goal by North Alabama seals a closer than expected win. Game ball without a doubt goes to kicker Griffen Thomas, who hit five field goals in the win, including a 50-yarder in the first quarter, and two more from 40+ yards.
UNA hit fewer than 50% of their passes, but the one’s they connected on went for big gains, throwing for more than 230 yards. If it were’t for three turnovers, you wonder if the Gamecocks would have pulled out the win at all.
Much like Austin Peay, the quarterback situation is still a mess. Eli Jenkins hits 13-18, but almost exclusively dumpdowns and quick passes to the flat, as he throws for just 58 total yards. The best pass of the night, running back Troymaine Pope connects with Markis Merill for 53 yards. The second best pass of the night? 14 yards. That’s it.
Jenkins did add 91 yards on the ground.