Redhawks itching to snare first OVC football win

Friday, October 9, 2009
Chantae Ahamefule pulls in a touchdown over Quincy defender Cyele Wiemer during the season opener at Houck Stadium. (Kit Doyle)

Two college football teams desperate for a win will square off Saturday at Houck Stadium.

Southeast Missouri State and Austin Peay both are riding four-game losing streaks entering the 1 p.m. homecoming contest.

The Redhawks (1-4, 0-3) and Governors (1-4, 0-2) also are seeking their initial Ohio Valley Conference victory along with their first win over a Division I-AA opponent.

"It's a really big game for both programs," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said.

Said Austin Peay coach Rick Christophel: "Both football teams are hungry to win. ... I know they'll certainly be prepared to play a good football game. I hope we are, too."

Redhawks assistant coach Justin Kramer, left, talks with players during the season opener against Quincy at Houck Stadium. (Kit Doyle)

Southeast and Austin Peay opened the season by beating lower-division opponents, the Redhawks mauling NAIA Quincy 72-3 and the Govs downing Division II Newbery 34-23.

Since then the going has been rough, although neither squad has been blown out in OVC play.

Southeast's OVC losses are by nine points to Eastern Illinois, seven points at Tennessee-Martin and six points at Tennessee State last week.

Austin Peay suffered a 10-point loss to Eastern Illinois and an eight-point setback at Tennessee Tech last week.

"They've been close, just like we have," Samuel said. "Both of us could have some more wins."

If recent history is any indication, Saturday's game will go down to the wire as the last two meetings have been decided by three points.

Southeast rallied from a 10-point deficit with less than six minutes left to win last year's meeting in Clarksville, Tenn., 33-30. The Redhawks scored the winning touchdown with 14 seconds remaining.

In 2007, visiting Austin Peay captured a 34-31 double-overtime thriller.

"We've had some really close games with them and I expect another one," Samuel said.

Offensively for the Govs, senior Gary Orr has taken over at quarterback in recent games and is coming off a strong performance that saw him complete 15 of 23 passes for 198 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions against Tennessee Tech.

Orr has completed 56.9 percent for 449 yards and two touchdowns, but he has been picked off five times this season.

"He throws the ball well and he moves well," Samuel said.

Austin Peay's most dangerous offensive weapons are sophomore tailback Ryan White and junior tailback/returner Terrence Holt.

White is the OVC's second-leading rusher with 470 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. White, who gained 600 yards as a freshman last year, already has five career 100-yard rushing games.

Holt, who set the OVC record for single-season kickoff return yardage in 2008, has three career touchdown returns, two on kickoffs and one on a punt.

Holt is the national leader in all-purpose yardage with an average of 213 per game. He is tied for first in the OVC with six touchdowns, all out of the backfield, as he has rushed for 284 yards with a 5.4 per-carry average.

"He's very dangerous," Samuel said of Holt. "He'll pick up anything [in the return game]."

Teams to be recognized

As part of Southeast's homecoming festivities, three former teams will be recognized during Saturday's game as they hold reunions over the weekend.

The 1959 football team that completed a run of three straight MIAA championships under coach Kenneth Knox will be honored on its 50-year anniversary. Many of the squad members are expected to attend.

Also honored will be the 1981-82 and 1982-83 men's basketball teams that represented the first Southeast squads coached by Ron Shumate, the program's winningest coach.

Shumate and many of the players from those two teams, which won MIAA titles, plan to attend.

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