Southeast eager to exact revenge vs. Austin Peay

Friday, October 15, 2010
Southeast Missouri State quarterback Matt Scheible takes off running during Saturday's game. (Laura Simon)

Southeast Missouri State's football season of firsts has a chance to notch another milestone Saturday.

The Redhawks have matched the program record on the Football Championship Subdivision level, formerly Division I-AA, with three straight road wins.

A win against Austin Peay in Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff in Clarksville, Tenn., will give Southeast a four-game road winning streak for the first time since moving up from Division II in 1991.

"We've been good on the road so far this year and hopefully we can keep it going," junior quarterback Matt Scheible said.

Southeast also can match the program's longest overall winning streak since the 1989 team won its final six games. The Redhawks' five-game victory string is their best in the FCS.

Southeast Missouri State's Mike Jones leaves Southern Illinois' defender Connor James in the dust during the third quarter Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010 at Carbondale, Ill. (Fred Lynch)

And the Redhawks can clinch their first winning season since the 2002 squad went 8-4 while nailing down just the program's third winning mark on the FCS level.

"They've been putting complete games together. I think that's a big reason why they're winning," Austin Peay coach Rick Christophel said.

The Redhawks, 5-1 overall for the first time in the FCS and a first-place 4-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play for their best OVC start since joining the league in 1991, don't expect anything to come easy Saturday.

Austin Peay (2-3, 1-1) beat Southeast 24-14 as the Governors piled up 325 yards rushing and had two backs go over 100 yards last year.

"They ran it down our throats last year," said Southeast coach Tony Samuel, whose team is No. 18 nationally for the program's highest ranking on the FCS level. "It was really the second half. We couldn't do anything to stop them.

"Austin Peay is a team that reminds me of us. They have some real good running backs and they play physical football."

Southeast and Austin Peay both feature run-oriented offenses that have compiled the fewest passing yards in the OVC, the Govs 724 yards and the Redhawks 619.

Powering the Govs' rushing attack is junior tailback Ryan White, who blistered Southeast for 228 yards on 32 carries last year.

White was the OVC's top rusher in 2009, piling up 1,081 yards. He has 380 yards this year, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

"He's a really good back," Samuel said. "The thing I remember from last year is how many yards he got after contact."

The Govs have another talented back in speedy senior Terrence Holt, a record-setting return man who was the OVC's preseason offensive player of the year.

Holt had 100 yards on 23 carries against Southeast last season as he finished with 793 yards and a league-high 13 touchdowns while also leading the conference in all-purpose yardage. He has rushed for 259 yards this year.

"They have two real good running backs and he [Holt] is a very dangerous kick and punt return man," Samuel said.

Austin Peay sophomore quarterback Jake Ryan has completed just 50.4 percent of his passes for 681 yards, with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

While Austin Peay's offense had its way with Southeast's defense last year, that unit appears better equipped to slow down the Govs this time.

Southeast leads the OVC in scoring defense and total defense, allowing averages of 19.3 points and 302.2 yards per game.

"Everybody on defense has stepped up this year," senior tackle Maurice Lyles said.

While Southeast's defense has thrived, Austin Peay's has struggled. The Govs are ranked 114th out of 117 FCS teams in rushing defense, allowing 243.2 yards per game, and 110th in total defense (454 yards per game).

That could play into the hands of a Southeast offense ranked third nationally in rushing with 277.3 yards per contest.

But regardless of what the stats say, Samuel expects a down-to-the-wire battle similar to three of Southeast's wins that have been by three points or fewer.

"We lost so many close games last year. Now we're winning those games," Samuel said. "Top to bottom, that's just the way the league is. I expect a really physical, close football game with Austin Peay."

Noteworthy

* Saturday's contest, as the OVC game of the week, will be televised on the Wazoo Sports Network and carried locally on the Heartland CW (WQWQ).

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