Just two points separated the Govs from earning the first victory of the season against Southeast Missouri in the final game at Governors Stadium before renovations begin.
Down 34-36 with a minute remaining, the APSU offense led a drive down field while converting twice on fourth down to cross midfield. But with no timeouts remaining, junior quarterback Andrew Spivey was sacked as the clock ticked down to zeros to lose in a heartbreaker.
Despite the loss, the Govs (0-11, 0-7) piled up 441 yards of total offense and punted just once. Head coach Kirby Cannon said it was a good day all-around with honoring legendary APSU players along with 20 seniors, but also a tough one.
“There were some things we accomplished with probably more good than bad,” Cannon said. “At some point the kids will demand a win to really finish the job. We wanted to come out here and play our best and really show respect to the players from past times. I think the kids took on that responsibility with great practices all week. I can’t compliment them more than that.”
The Govs jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 13-yard run by Rashaan Coleman, which is the first lead APSU has had all season. SEMO (3-8, 2-5) answered with a touchdown, and following a 31-yard field goal by Chase Dunlap to give the Govs a 10-7 edge, the Redhawks scored the next 14 points to lead 21-10 at the half.
But coming out of the break, the freshman Coleman provided a huge boost out of the backfield by running for two touchdowns. With 109 yards and averaging almost seven yards a carry, he was definitely pleased with the blocking up front.
“I was fortunate to get in there and see what I could do. The offensive line made huge holes with the wide receivers on the outside blocking on the perimeter,” Coleman said. “With that it’s impossible to fail, basically.”
At the end of the third quarter, the score was knotted at 24. The bruising back from SEMO Ron Coleman broke that seal with his third score of the game, but was quickly topped by something that hasn’t happened at APSU since 2009.
The Redhawks kicked off to senior safety EnRiques Perry, who had not been used in the return game prior to last week’s game against Tennessee State. Perry received the ball and found an opening down the home sideline to ignite the atmosphere with a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown.
“I kept telling coach to put me back there in practice and I’ll make something happen,” Perry said. “I seen a big lineman come out and said, ‘please don’t get me.’ But he missed me and was like ‘touchdown’ in my head.”
This gave the Govs a 31-30 lead as SEMO missed the extra point on the previous touchdown. But SEMO’s Coleman turned the tide four minutes later with his fourth score, and following a failed two point conversation, the Redhawks held a 36-31 edge.
With the freshman running back duo of Coleman and Omar Williams, who finished with 108 yards on the ground, the Govs led a nine-play drive to the 15-yard line. However, they were forced to settle for three points with a Dunlap field goal, narrowing the gap to two points.
Darryl Clack was the team’s leading receiver with crucial catches down the stretch for 90 yards, while Antonio Turner paced the defense with seven total tackles.
APSU will close out the season on Saturday, Nov. 23 when they travel to Tennessee Tech for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
Photo by Elijah Rodney