It appeared that APSU was going into its second-straight overtime game when the Governors blocked a last-second field goal by UT Martin.
However, the Skyhawks connected on their second attempt as the game-winner after APSU head coach Scotty Walden called a timeout prior to the kick.
Despite an impressive 300-yard, four-touchdown performance from freshman quarterback Draylen Ellis, the Governors fell to UTM 37-34—making it their first loss at Fortera Stadium since Sept. 7, 2019 when they lost to Central Arkansas, 24-16.
Both teams got out to a slow start, trading punts for the first three possessions of the afternoon before the Skyhawks capitalized on an APSU failed fourth down conversion and scored the game’s first points.
Following the UTM score, the Governors answered back with a quick five-play drive that was capped off by a 51-yard throw from Ellis to redshirt junior Eugene Minter.
After the slow start, each team’s offense began to gain momentum. The two teams combined for 40 points and scored on six of their last 10 possessions of the half.
Marching down the down the field to start the second half, senior tailback Ahmaad Tanner took a handoff up the left sideline and, after diving for the pylon, found paydirt for the first time this season.
With the score, Tanner recorded his first touchdown since Nov. 19 when he helped guide the Governors to a 42-7 victory against Mu**ay State.
As had been the theme throughout the contest, the Skyhawks answered back with a score of their own later in quarter to tie the game at 27. Ellis found a streaking DeAngelo Wilson response for what would be the game’s sixth and penultimate lead change.
Following the score, APSU’s red-hot offense was brought to a simmer and the Skyhawks and Govs traded a trio of empty possessions.
With under 10 minutes to play, UTM took over on the Governors 49-yard line following a 38-yard punt but did not have to record any offensive yards to reach the red zone.
A defensive pass interference call on safety Johnathon Edwards and a targeting ejection on cornerback Kordell Jackson brought the Skyhawks to the APSU 19. The penalty will also leave Jackson out for the first half of the Govs contest at Jacksonville State next week.
UTM took six plays to find the end zone and knotted the game at 34 with just over seven minutes to play.
The Govs went three and out on their next and second consecutive possession and left the Skyhawks with a 70-yard field and 5:55 on the clock.
UTM meticulously drove up the field, bleeding as much time as it could to keep APSU from ever returning on offense.
After converting on two third-down conversions and working its way to the APSU 29-yard line, UT Martin found itself with a game-winning opportunity.
With two seconds on the clock, Skyhawks kicker Tyler Larco lined up from the right hash to send his team back home to Martin, Tenn. with the upset victory.
Snap, hold, kick…blocked.
The Governors blocked Larco’s kick, and the game looked to have gone into overtime. Fans everywhere were cheering and hollering—but there was a timeout. APSU head coach Scotty Walden attempted to freeze the opposing kicker.
Same as before; snap, hold, kick…but this time it was good.UTM left Fortera Stadium with its first win in Clarksville since 2015.
Despite 438 total yards of offense on the day, APSU was held to just 10 yards on 10 plays in the final 15 minutes.
“Offensively we have got to be able to go be able to finish them off,” Walden said following the loss. “I think one more score would have probably ended it, would have probably put a dagger in them. We didn’t get that. We have to learn how to finish football teams off. We are still a young football team in a lot of areas, so we are going to have to learn how to finish.
“Failure is not final, failure is growth. We are going to learn from this, we are going to move on from it and we are going to be better for it.”
As a young team, the Governors continue to grow in their new fast-paced offense under Walden and Draylen Ellis continues to make a name for himself from the quarterback position. After setting the program’s single game touchdown record a week prior, Ellis had another impressive performance, accounting for 335 total yards and tossing four touchdown passes.
As the starting quarterback, Ellis’ message to his team following the loss is simple.
“Just to keep their head up. Let’s get back to work tomorrow and let’s put this behind us and get back to work.”
APSU will travel to Jacksonville, Ala. next Sunday, March 28 for a 2 p.m. kickoff against the Gamecocks.