EKU scores 21 unanswered in the second half; upsets #19 Austin Peay, 35-27
RICHMOND, Ky. (EKU Sports) – Eastern Kentucky used a 28-3 run to erase a 10-point first-half deficit and defeat No. 19 Austin Peay, 35-27, on Saturday afternoon at Roy Kidd Stadium.
APSU used back-to-back scoring drives in the second quarter to build a 17-7 advantage and was looking to push its lead to three score before halftime when Davion Ross picked off a Governor pass and raced 33 yards to trim the deficit to 17-14 with 1:37 left in the half. The Colonels scored three more touchdowns in the second half to hold a 35-20 lead before Austin Peay found the end zone with 4:12 remaining.
EKU’s defense picked off three passes on the day, giving the Colonels seven interceptions through the first four games of the season. The Governors had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, but Matthew Jackson intercepted a 4th-and-16 pass to seal the victory for Eastern Kentucky.
EKU improved to 2-2 on the season, while APSU fell to 2-2. The victory is EKU’s second over a ranked opponent in its last four victories. The Colonels defeated No. 11 Central Arkansas, 31-28, on Oct. 24, 2020.
Da’Joun Hewitt led the EKU ground attack with 103 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. Parker McKinney went 12-of-20 for 160 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Dakota Allen recorded multiple catches for the second consecutive game, hauling in three passes for 40 yards, while Matt Wilcox Jr. led the Colonels with 46 yards receiving on two catches.
Defensively, EKU finished with four sacks and four quarterback hurries. Jackson and Kyle Bailey led the charge with 12 and 11 tackles, respectively. Quinten Floyd registered 2.5 tackles for loss as the Colonels finished with 10.0 on the afternoon.
Austin Peay took a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, but EKU responded when Parker McKinney connected with Jyran Mitchell, who out-muscled a Governor defender for the ball and rumbled into the end zone for 16-yard touchdown. APSU rallied back to build a 10-point cushion before Ross’s score.
With his second pick-six in as many weeks, Ross became the first Colonel since Brandon Rosser in 2005 to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a single season.
After Austin Peay scored the first points of the third quarter on a 36-yard field goal, EKU’s offense marched 75 yards in five plays, highlighted by a 31-yard reception by Jayden Higgins, before McKinney capped the drive on a one-yard keeper to give the Colonels their first lead of the day, 21-20. Eli Hairston recorded his first interception of the year on APSU’s ensuing drive and McKinney hit Jaden Smith for a 10-yard score to give the Colonels a 28-20 advantage with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter.
EKU’s defense opened the fourth quarter by forcing its fourth three-and-out of the day and the Colonels capitalized on a 10-yard punt, using an eight-yard Da’Joun Hewitt touchdown run to make the score 35-20 with 12:34 to play.
Eastern Kentucky is home again next Saturday for its final non-conference contest of the regular season as the Colonels host Tarleton. Kickoff at Roy Kidd Stadium is set for 3:00 p.m.