On fourth and inches, APSU quarterback Darrien Boone rushed to the line of scrimmage looking to get off a quick dive into the end zone. But as the ball left the center’s hand, Boone could not get a handle on it, resulting in a turnover on downs.
It was that type of night for the Governors in a shutout loss at home to the number 18th-ranked Colonels of Eastern Kentucky. The Govs got a sniff of the end zone, but the scoreboard read zero on the home side for the entire duration, with EKU pulling away after half to win 31-0.
APSU (0-5. 0-2 OVC) was in prime position down just 10-0 as the seconds ticked down nearing halftime, but suddenly, things shifted in a heartbeat before the teams hit the locker room.
With zeros on the scoreboard in the second quarter, EKU (5-0, 2-0 OVC) unleashed a hail mary attempt, with quarterback Bennie Coney finding Jeff Glover in a crowd of players in the end zone. The 42-yard pass was brought down for a touchdown, and the Colonels rode that momentum with a 17-point lead rather than 10, sending a different feeling to the APSU sideline.
“It was like a dagger when those things get home, APSU head coach Kirby Cannon said. “It’s mentally tough to overcome that. They have a 6’4 receiver that went well above us, and we had guys in position. It wasn’t a blown coverage or a play we didn’t try on. It was just one of those things where every once and a while, they catch it.”
EKU deferred to the second half at the coin toss, meaning they regained the ball to begin the third. Due to a 15-yard penalty after the touchdown bomb, the Govs gave their opponent a shorter field, and the Colonels took advantage of it. EKU specialist Deno Montgomery returned the kickoff 66 yards to the APSU 11, and two plays later, quarterback Jared McClain pounded the rock in from a yard out, making it two touchdowns in a span of 44 seconds.
“Those were knockout punches,” Cannon said. “It was a very poor kick and we have one of our coverage guys compound that mistake by running around a block rather than through it, and they have good skill people. Once he (Montgomery) got loose, it was tough to get him on the ground.”
The Colonels added another score four minutes later — a six yard scamper by Dy’Shawn Mobley — to add insult to injury. EKU finished with 354 yards of offense compared to APSU’s 190, with 105 yards of the Govs total coming on the ground.
APSU continued to mix in different running backs throughout the contest, and on Saturday, it was sophomore Julian Franklin who emerged as the team’s leading rusher. Franklin followed his offensive line as holes emerged, totaling 39 yards on nine carries to state his case for an increase in playing time moving forward.
“In practice, I always play my heart out and give my best effort, and when I got a chance to go on the field, I took those opportunities,” Franklin said. “Our problem, or at least we thought, was our offensive line, but today I thought they did a good job.”
APSU opened the game with aggressive play-calling, allowing freshman quarterback Mickey Macius to take shots at the EKU secondary. However, the offense was unable to cross midfield, resulting in three-straights punt by Ben Campbell. On the next drive, Macius showed too much bravery in trying to thread the needle, and his pass attempt was picked off by Brandon Stanley.
With 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Colonels converted the turnover into points, with Channing Fugate rushing from 11 yards out. The first touchdown of the game allowed EKU to go up 10-0 following a previous 35-yard field goal by Andrew Lloyd.
The Govs finished with just nine yards of offense in the first quarter, but late in the second, APSU put together a solid drive. Macius and senior Javier Booker hooked up a couple times for first downs, taking over five minutes off the clock. However, the 10-play drive would end with another Campbell punt, who finished the game with 11 boots, a new career-high.
Up next for APSU is a road non-conference game against Mercer next Saturday, Oct. 11.