RICHMOND, Ky. – Football basics – running the ball and stopping the run – led the Eastern Kentucky University football team to a 38-3 victory over winless Austin Peay on Saturday evening at Roy Kidd Stadium.
The Colonels (3-3, 1-1 OVC) virtually put the game away in the first half. The offense totaled 195 yards and three scores while the defense limited the Governors to 51 yards and forced a turnover. Eastern held a 131-4 rushing advantage at the break.
Austin Peay (0-5, 0-1) finished the game with six net rushing yards on 25 carries. Eastern churned up 321 yards on the ground.
EKU’s first scoring drive consisted of seven straight runs. Redshirt freshman Jared Sanders covered 35 of the 65 yards on four carries. Junior quarterback Jared McClain polished if off with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Junior running back Caleb Watkins then capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive with four straight carries, including a three-yard scoring run, to make the score 14-0 early in the second quarter. Senior kicker Luke Pray tacked on a 23-yard field goal with four minutes remaining to make it a 17-0 Colonel lead at the break.
Austin Peay threatened to put points on the board in the final seconds of the second quarter before senior defensive lineman Anthony Brown intercepted a pass at the EKU five-yard line to put an end to the drive.
Eastern extinguished any doubt of a Governors comeback early in the second half. The Colonels’ first drive started at the APSU 29-yard line as a result of an APSU fumble. Five plays later McClain connected with senior Roman Lawson at the goal line from four yards out to push the advantage to 24-0.
Watkins added a second touchdown in the third quarter and senior Ben De La Cruz capped the scoring with a 79-yard run on a quarterback draw in the fourth.
Four Colonel running backs finished with 59 or more yards. Redshirt freshman Thomas Owens had 100 yards on six carries, 62 of which came on one run. De La Cruz finished with 79 yards. Watkins had 67 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Finally, Sanders toted the ball 15 times for 59 yards.
Austin Peay got on the board on Chase Dunlap’s 30-yard field goal with 13:36 left in the game. The kick capped a 10-play, 56-yard drive that featured a 32-yard pass from Andrew Spivey to Tim Phillips down to the EKU 12-yard line.
Eastern out-gained APSU 427-108 for the game. Spivey completed 12-of-21 passes for 102 yards through the air for the Governors. Eastern’s McClain went 12-for-17 for 106 yards and a touchdown.
After an off week next Saturday, the Colonels will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 19 for Homecoming against Tennessee Tech.
--EKU punter Jordan Berry’s third quarter 77-yard boot was one yard short of tying the school record of 78 yards set by Bob Plotts versus Tampa in 1966. Berry’s previous career-best was 75 yards and his longest of 2013 was 51 yards.
--Ben De La Cruz’s 79-yard run on a quarterback draw in the fourth quarter was Eastern Kentucky’s longest play of the year.
--Caleb Watkins’ second quarter touchdown was his third of the season and third of his career. He added his fourth later in the game.
--Anthony Brown’s second quarter interception was the first pick of his collegiate career.
--Roman Lawson’s third quarter touchdown reception was his first of the season.
--Sophomore Stanley Absanon’s fourth quarter interception was the first of his career.
--Eastern Kentucky is now 41-5 all-time against Austin Peay and 22-2 in games played in Richmond. The Colonels have won 14 straight games against the Governors in Richmond.
--Three former EKU football players were inducted into the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday: linebacker Tony McCombs (1994-96), offensive lineman Joe Spadafino (1982-85) and offensive lineman Chris Sullivan (1981-84).