On a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon on Oct. 3, the APSU Governors football team suffered their 10th loss in a row.
They faced Eastern Illinois University in what could have been an even match, but turned out to be a 40-16 loss.
However, the loss is not a true indication of the battle that ensued.
APSU earned their highest score this season, 16.
Penalties, dropped passes and ugly football, caused by both the weather and errors, marred the first half.
APSU has struggled in the final minutes of the first half all season.
In the last three games, APSU has been outscored 35-0 in the last three minutes of the half.
Despite a strong opening defensive effort highlighted by the Govs first sack of the season, EIU used one explosive play after another to take an early lead.
On eight plays and 75 yards, EIU inched their way to a 7-0 lead a third of the way through the first quarter.
APSU opened the second half with a field goal by freshman kicker Logan Birchfield to put the Govs on the board and make it a 7-3 game.
EIU added two more touchdowns and a failed attempt at an extra point to make it a score of 20-3.
The Govs finally found themselves in the end zone when redshirt freshman Kendall Morris exploded on a 74-yard touchdown run to put the game at 20-10.
Morris dominated APSU’s run game finishing the day with 141 rushing yards, the most since Nov. 22, 2014 when former player Otis Gerron earned 136 rushing yards against Tennessee State University.
EIU quarterback Jalen Whitlow and running back Devin Church had the Govs’ defense chasing for the entire first half.
EIU combined for a total 148 yards on 24 attempts and three touchdowns.
“Our goal is to stop the ball,” sophomore defensive tackle Jule Pace said. “They have good running backs, we just have to do a better job of tackling. We did horrible today. Something we’ll fix for the future.”
Despite three dropped passes by EIU, Whitlow and his receivers completely torched an ill-prepared APSU defensive backfield.
In the final four minutes, the Panthers tacked on two more touchdowns to send the Govs to the locker room with a halftime score of 34-10.
Offensive explosions dominated the first half.
Despite worsening weather conditions, APSU’s defense stepped up and turned the second quarter into a defensive standoff, forcing three critical Panther turnovers.
Sophomore Kyran Moore picked up his first interception deep inside APSU’s own territory, eliminating what could have been an EIU touchdown.
Junior defensive tackle Gino Roberson recovered a fumble in the EIU red zone leading up to APSU quarterback Trey Taylor scoring the final APSU touchdown on a three-yard run to make it a 34-16 score.
What should have been a normal punt on downs turned into a 50-yard dash when Pace picked up APSU’s blocked punt and raced down field to maintain possession for the Govs.
“I was kind of confused about what happened,” Pace said. “I saw the ball, I thought it was dead, but I heard coach Cannon yelling to pick it up and grab it.”
With less than a minute to go, EIU sealed the deal with a touchdown run and another failed attempt at the extra point to make it a final score of 40-16.
Third down conversions seem to be a problem for the Govs. They are 21-77 on conversions this season.
On Saturday, Oct. 10, the Govs will travel to Murray, Ky. to play OVC rival Murray State with a 3 p.m. kickoff.
Last season, the Govs snapped the nation’s longest losing streak of 700 days along with a 13 game losing streak against Murray to earn their only win of the past three seasons.
Following the Murray game, the Govs will return to Clarksville, Tenn. to face the University of Tennesee at Martin Skyhawks at Governors Stadium on Oct. 17 at 4 p.m.