Scotty Walden went away from suspended quarterback Draylen Ellis against rival Mu**ay State, but it paid off for Austin Peay, who defeated the Racers 47-6.
University of Memphis transfer Sheldon Layman made his first start for the Governors (3-4, 1-1 Ohio Valley Conference). He replaced Ellis, the OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year who’s accounted for 1,709 passing yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Draylen didn’t do anything illegal from a campus standpoint (or) from a legal standpoint,” Walden said. “It’s just an internal program thing that was a lack of leadership on his part, and we decided to go another route.”
“Give Sheldon Layman a ton of credit, he deserves it. He came in, he prepared his tail off, he was ready for his opportunity, and he did a great job.”
The junior quarterback led seven scoring drives on the afternoon.
Running backs Ahmaad Tanner and Brian Snead had long rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, and Layman connected with Baniko Harley in the second to give the Govs a three-score lead.
Layman finished 16-of-25 passing with 126 yards and two touchdowns.
“Every day it’s a grind,” he said. “You cannot go away from the little details in the game. The game will expose you if you don’t stay ready.”
The quarterback used his legs frequently in his collegiate debut; he added 67 yards on the ground and was part of a rushing attack that racked up 371 yards for a new season high. Tanner led the team in rushing with 148 yards and three touchdowns.
“It felt like I was just running, honestly, and I think that helped Sheldon,” Tanner said. “He got a couple big runs, so I think it helped him just open up as well.”
“It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders, of course,” added Layman. “They had plenty of touchdowns, congrats to those guys. It helped a lot for our offense.”
Ellis made an appearance at quarterback with four minutes remaining. Walden said he planned on playing both QBs against the Racers but opted to stick with Layman instead.
The sophomore served his suspension during the first half of Saturday’s win, and both are in contention to start next week’s game at conference leader UT Martin.
“I have full faith in Draylen Ellis as a quarterback and as a person,” Walden said. “I love him as a son, I love Sheldon Layman. Those two guys, I have full faith in both of them. It just so happened that we got on a roll tonight and we didn’t need to make a change.
“In terms of going forward, obviously I’m going to evaluate the film and assess day-by-day.”