CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech ralied from 17 points down
in the final three minutes to have a chance to go to overtime, but
Justin Kraemer's 32-yard field goal try on the final play of the
game missed to the right and Austin Peay escaped with a 31-28
Lee Sweeney passed for 324 yards and drove Tech to two touchdowns in the final 3:13, and the Golden Eagles recovered Kraemer's onsides kick with 1:33 to go and moved all the way down to the APSU 15.
The Golden Eagles (3-6/1-4 OVC) fell behind 21-0 in the first half, and trailed 31-17 in the fourth quarter after Darryl Miller caught his third touchdown pass of the game for the Governors (1-7/1-4 OVC).
After three quarters, Tech not only trailed on the scoreboard but also in the game's statistics as APSU had more than 437 yards of offense and Tech had 231.
But the Golden Eagles dominated the final period, holding Austin Peay to 43 yards in the final 15 minutes and mounted an improbable comeback.
It started slowly, as Tech moved 56 yards to the Austin Peay 24 on the first possession of the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs.
Tech's defense held and the Govs punted into the TTU end zone, putting Sweeney & Co. in motion at their own 20. The Golden Eagles drove 80 yards in 11 plays, with Wilkerson plowing in from one yard for the touchdown with 3:13 remaining. Kraemer's kick made it 31-21.
An onsides kick attempt failed, but the Govs lost the ball on a fumble on the first play when Dwight Evans knocked the ball loose and Taron Ryce recovered at the TTU 32.
Sweeney connected on four straight passes, including a 26-yard pickup to Colin Allen to the APSU 21. A couple plays later, Sweeney hit Bendford over the middle and the freshman danced his way through defenders before diving into the end zone with 1:33 remaining. Another kick by Kraemer made it 31-28.
This time, the Golden Eagles recovered the onsides kick at their own 40 and Sweeney started things with a 10-yard completion to Benford. The Govs were called twice for pass interference, and Tech moved to the APSU 20. A five-yard pass to Henry Sailes moved the ball to the 15, but Tech had to down the ball to stop the clock with 10 seconds remaining.
Tech had 213 yards of total offense in the final period, and finished the game with 444 yards of offense and 22 first downs. APSU had 480 yards and 22 first downs.
Sweeney was 25-for-42 for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Benford was one catch short of a school record, finishing the game with 10 catches for 123 yards and two scores. Henry Sailes had four catches for 101 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown in the second quarter for the Golden Eagles' first score. Sailes also rushed five times for 76 yards, and finished the game with 177 all-purpose yards on nine plays.
For APSU, Ryan White had 22 carries for 185 yards as the Govs rushed for 263 yards. Miller had three catches - all touchdowns - for 110 yards.
Maurice Smith led the Tech defense with 14 tackles, including three tackles-for-loss, while Corey Reed had 10 tackles.
Tech faces Tennessee State next Saturday (Nov. 1) in LP Field in Nashville, with kickoff at 5 p.m.
Watson Brown post-game quote:
"We got ourselves a great chance to win the game, and we didn't do it. We took care of the ball much better tonight. These guys don't quit, they haven't quit all year. We made every single play that you've got to make, until the last play of the game."
Seniors Xavier Purdy and John Ross Hudson represented Tech at mid-field for the coin-toss. Austin Peay won the toss, and deferred its decision to the second half.
Tonight's game is the first time Tech has played at Austin Peay since 1997.
APSU is celebrating its homecoming tonight against Tennessee Tech.
First quarter notes
After a 45-yard kickoff return by Tech's Tremain Hudson to open the game, the Golden Eagles were faced with two fourth downs on their opening drive. Tech was able to convert the first, on fourth-and-one from the APSU 31 yard-line, but couldn't complete a pass on the second fourth-and-one from the 9.
On the ensuing drive, APSU capped a 91-yard drive with a 75-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.
Second quarter notes
On APSU's second touchdown, Tech blocked the PAT, making the score 13-0. It was the second PAT Tech has blocked this year, after the Golden Eagles blocked one at Louisville.
APSU kept a drive alive after converting on a fourth-and-one from Tech's 18 yard-line, and capped the drive with a touchdown. The Gov's were successful on a two-point conversion, making the score 21-0.
Before halftime, Tech got on the scoreboard with a touchdown pass from Lee Sweeney to Tim Benford, pulling within 21-7.
Third quarter notes
After an APSU field goal made the score 24-7, Henry Sailes took a Sweeney pass 78 yards to the house, to pull Tech within 10, 24-14.
APSU's Darryl Miller caught his third touchdown pass of the night, putting the Gov's up 31-14 late in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter notes
After an APSU punt into the end zone gave Tech the ball at their own 20 yard-line, a personal foul against APSU after a long Tech pass gave the Golden Eagles the ball at the Governor 24. Tech was unable to convert on fourth down later in the drive.
The Golden Eagles punched in a touchdown with over three minutes to play to pull within 31-21, and one play after a failed onside kick attempt, Tech recovered a fumble in their own territory. Tech quickly marched 84 yard on seven plays in a minute 29 seconds, to make it a 31-28 game with 1:33 to play.
Tech recovered the ensuing onside kick with 1:33 and two timeouts left. The Golden Eagles were able to drive the ball into APSU territory before missing a potential game-tying field goal as time expired.