Head coach Scotty Walden leads his team to the field during Saturday’s home-opener game. JENNIFER LINDAHL | THE ALL STATE

As the start of the season left Austin Peay needing a win, all the pieces fell into place during Saturday’s game against East Tennessee State University. The Govs put 63 points on the board and held the Buccaneers to 3, demonstrating the fruits of their practice as a connected “Wefense.”

APSU Head Coach Scotty Walden is a big believer in the complete team victory, a focus on synergy between all facets of the team. That focus was clear Saturday when the Govs picked up a defense touchdown and an 89 yard punt return touchdown from wide receiver Kam Thomas.

Neither of these appeared to be flukes either; Walden says he talked with the team about potential game-changing plays on defense, as well as setting up an opening for Thomas’ explosive returns.

“We’ve got one of the best returners in the nation,” said Walden. 

The Govs defense held ETSU to just 77 passing yards over 3 quarterbacks, but their offense had its share of the limelight. APSU Quarterback Mike DiLiello threw for a school-record 441 passing yards, passing for 5 of the Govs’ touchdowns completing 37 of 46. 

DeLiello hardly realized what he had done in the moment, saying when asked if he was ready to go in for the record, he thought it was the scoring record. In fact, when asked after the game how he felt about hitting 5000 career yards, DeLiello said, “I just found out.” 

Defensive Back Jevon McIver Jr. caught his first career interception during the game and talked about how the first two games of the season left the Govs hungry for a win, not just an admirable performance.

McIver says the Govs left their performance at the University of Tennesse at Knoxville in the past, saying “We were tired of getting told good job and just wanted to be better, honestly.”

The Govs (1-2) will head to Texas Saturday, September 23 to face Stephen F. Austin (2-1) at Homer Bryce Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. 

Mike DiLiello (12) and Tre Shackleford (4) celebrated with a high five after a touchdown against East Tennessee State University in the season home opener. Photo by Ralph Acosta | THE ALL STATE