It’s been nearly four years since Austin Peay has tasted this, and we’re not talking about some expensive dish at an upscale restaurant. We’re talking about something much tastier … winning.
The last time Austin Peay won a football game was Oct. 18, 2014. A few of today’s seniors were there that day, and some of today’s redshirt juniors looked on. Current starters Jule Pace (DL) and Malik Boynton (DB) started in that last win, while others like James Coleman, Darryl Johnson, and Jeremiah Mitchell saw playing time. They are some of the few holdovers from that last victory, which was over Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State.
The reason for optimism this weekend is found in the past two weeks’ games. Austin Peay gave FBS Cincinnati all it could handle for three-plus quarters — behind just 20-14 with 11 minutes to play — before the dreaded “depth thing” came into play and the Bearcats pulled away. The Governors were also competitive with FBS Miami (OH) for three quarters in week two before falling.
This is a far cry from routinely giving up 60 points to OVC competition.
This weekend, and next weekend against rival Murray State, things even up considerably. These are certainly teams Austin Peay can match up with and potentially beat. This weekend the Governors face a Morehead State team that gave up more than 80 points in a game last year.
This is no knock on Morehead State, a midrange Pioneer League squad that was solid in its own league last year. But Austin Peay just looks more competitive at this point, and second year head coach Will Healy and his staff have been busting their tails to get this albatross losing streak detached from their necks.
It has shown in recruiting, and even the 2017 signing class is paying instant dividends. Stud quarterback recruit Jeremiah Oatsvall was a national Top 100 FCS signee in the HERO Sports FCS Recruit Rankings that came out in February. He had offers to play at all three FBS service academies — Army, Air Force and Navy. He also had most of the Southern Conference after him. But Oatsvall bought in with Healy and the Governors, and after two games against FBS opponents he is leading his team in passing. True freshman Kordell Jackson is starting at cornerback, too, and in general this roster is young.
In other words, this isn’t a one-time improvement should Austin Peay spring forward a bit starting this weekend — this is something that could continue for a program that hasn't seen a winning season since 2007 or a conference title since the 1970s.
The streak almost ended last year against Tennessee State (one point) and Mercer (one TD) but this year it is going to end — and a win streak begins this weekend at the Governors’ home in Clarksville, Tenn.
Here's the list of longest FCS losing streaks, and the team they finally beat.
80 Prairie View A&M 1989-98 Langston
44 Columbia 1983-88 Princeton
33 Indiana St. 2006-09 Western Ill.
30 Saint Francis (PA) 1999-2002 La Salle
29 Valparaiso 2009-11 Campbell
29 *Austin Peay 2014-present Active