The Austin Peay State football team is no stranger to adversity this season.
Draylen Ellis and Baniko Harley have both had to sit out due to suspension, Kordell Jackson is out for the season with a knee injury and there have been some heartbreaking losses for the team.
“Preserving in the face of adversity is the mark of a champion,” said head coach Scotty Walden.
Their perseverance paid off against Eastern Illinois when the Governors (4-5, 2-2 OVC) defeated them 42-26 at home on Saturday, Nov. 6.
It was a slow start getting to Saturday’s victory; the Panthers gained a 10-point lead just three minutes into the game.
Eastern Illinois’ Stone Galloway started the lead with a 26-yard field goal. Less than a minute later, quarterback Sheldon Layman threw a pass that was intercepted by Tyris Harvey where Harvey scored.
“This was just a little adversity,” said QB Draylen Ellis. “We have to respond to it in the correct way.”
Ellis had a strong game coming back from a one-game suspension and a benching for Layman last week. He finished 11-of-22 passing for 278 yards and three touchdowns.
“These past two or three games for me were just a little adversity,” he said. “The first week it hurt me, but I toughened up. I practiced like a starter and I felt solid tonight.”
APSU took control after trailing 13-7 in the first. They outscored EIU 29-14 the rest of the way.
Defensive back Johnathan Edwards picked off Eastern Illinois three times and was part of a six-interception effort, which tied a school record. Edwards is tied with Montana’s Justin Ford for the FCS leader in interceptions this season.
“That ranking feels great,” he said. “It always feels great to be in the top of something.
“Going into the games, we try not to look at that stuff because we don’t want to become about it and lose sight of what’s in front of us.”
Walden shares the same sentiment. While they’ll be treating Saturday’s win like they won the Super Bowl, he wants to keep the team away from being result driven.
“At the end of the day, we got to trust the process and trust that — if we add perseverance to the times of adversity during the times of success and don’t waver in that — we will be champions in life and on the field.”
With just two games left in the season, the Govs will take on Tennessee State University next on Nov. 13 at Nissan Stadium.