By Ron Wynn
Tennessee State tried to repeat its comeback formula from a year ago against Austin Peay, but this time the magic wasn’t there as they dropped a 21-17 homecoming game Saturday night at Nissan Stadium. It broke a six-game Austin Peay losing streak against TSU, and continued a turnaround season for a team that only last year had lost 24 games in a row when they met TSU.
Now they are 3-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 4-3 overall. The Tigers are a disappointing 1-3 in OVC play, and 4-3 overall as well. They were hurt by the absence of All-American kicker Lane Clark, unable to go due to injury. His replacement Coby Weiss drilled his first attempt from 39 yards in the first quarter to pull the Tigers within four at 7-3. But he later had misses from 47 and 39 yards, the Tigers losing six possible points that later proved vital.
However, they also struggled once more with offensive consistency, especially in the passing game. Neither starter Michael Hughes or Treon Harris ever got rolling in that department. Hughes did have one big play, a 66-yard touchdown pass to Devon Johnson that gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead. The other TSU touchdown came on a trick play, with wide receiver Patrick Smith hitting lineman Thomas Newburg with a fourth down score on a tackle eligible play. Hughes completed 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and one score, while Harris was five for 11 for 58 yards.
Austin Peay also got a big game from number two QB Jeremiah Oatsvali, a Brentwood Academy recruit. He had a critical 34-yard run on the winning drive, setting up Ahmaad Tanner’s two-yard scoring run in the final minute. Penalties plagued the Tigers. They had 10 for 85 yards, the biggest a face mask call with only 20 seconds left. It negated a huge pass reception from Stephen Newbold that would have given the Tigers a first down at the Austin Peay 11-yard line. Instead they were moved back to their own 27-yard line, and the game was effectively over.
The Tigers are off next week, then face Tennessee Tech on the road.