Austin Peay State University running back Jevon Jackson works his way downfield against Chattanooga in the first half of Saturday’s first round FCS playoff game. Photo by Ralph Acosta | The All State

It was a shocking end to the Austin Peay State University football season after losing 24-21 when a 35-yard field goal by University of Tennessee Chattanooga kicker Clayton Crile was declared good by the officials with just three seconds left in Saturday’s game at Fortera Stadium. 

“You’re just in shock when your season ends,” said Head Coach Scotty Walden. “Part of playoff football, you never know when your last game is, and when it hits you, obviously it’s really tough.”

While the loss hits hard to the entire Gov’s Nation, Walden said that there was nothing for these men to hang their heads over and he’s not wrong about that. 

The Govs finished the 2023-24 season as back-to-back United Athletic Conference Champions.

Mike DiLiello had a multi-record-breaking, and tying, season and was nominated as a Walter Payton Award finalist. He is the first APSU quarterback to earn the recognition. DiLiello started all 11 games as quarterback this season and finishes the season with 3,164 passing yards, 203 rushing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, and 5 rushing touchdowns. 

While the Govs set many goals for themselves and the program. DiLiello said their first goal is to recruit and become men of character and the growth that he has seen in the last two years has been one of the most important things to him this season. 

Many of the Govs earned the UAC Defensive, Special Teams, and Freshman Players of the week awards, put in over 700 hours of community service in the middle of a season, and we’re scholars in the classroom.

Walden himself is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award. Walden coached his team to three conference titles in program history and has had 26 wins which is the fourth most in program history. His goal for the season was to get back to what he calls Gov’s football. 

“We definitely got back to playing Gov’s football after week one,” said Walden. “We got back to playing Governor’s football which is fearless, fast physical football. We got back to living.”

While it may take a few days for the dust to settle, the Govs football program will continue to walk with their heads high and proud for they have achieved so much more than wins. The future of Austin Peay football looks bright, physical, fast and fearless.