Despite a 34-0 loss to Alabama, Austin Peay has plenty of reasons for optimism. Though the Governors failed to score, their first-half defense held its own and limited the Crimson Tide to just a touchdown for well over a quarter. It was an impressive feat for an FCS program that rivaled one of college football’s most celebrated institutions.
“We know we competed with these guys,” said coach Austin Peay Scotty Walden said after the game. “If you look at the whole game, you saw a team fighting for the win. We didn’t come here to keep it close, we came here to win the game and even though we didn’t win , I thought the process was good. Defense was flying around and getting takeaways, offense was moving the ball up and down the field… For the most part we were moving the ball and just couldn’t finish drives in the red zone, and that lies to me i gotta have better game calls down there to get us in position at the end of the day our kids were competing and i couldn’t ask for more there shouldn’t be a person in our program hanging their heads because we’re making progress as a team program.”
The loss capped a 7-4 regular season in Walden’s third year at the helm of the program. The Governors transitioned from the Ohio Valley Conference to the ASUN Conference ahead of the 2022 season, and that year had a 3-2 record in league play.
Walden hoped the performance would catapult his team into the FCS playoffs, though governors were barred from releasing the bracket.
“I hope and pray this isn’t the last time we’ll be together,” Walden said of an FCS playoff opportunity. “I want to have a better sense of completion with them. If you’re a committee member and you’ve seen that game, I don’t know how you wouldn’t want us in the playoffs. We have the resume for that and we went against one of the best teams in America and went toe to toe with them and did a great job fighting to win against them instead of just going through the moves I’m proud of this team and I don’t want them to stop playing and I know that they don’t want to stop playing either.”
Alabama finished the game with 527 total yards, but Austin Peay’s defense put his team in position to succeed, forcing three turnovers.
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“My attitude towards that game was the same as every other game,” said Austin Peay wide receiver Drae McCray. “They are people like us and they dress like us. We treated it like any other game. When you start thinking that we’re playing this team or that team, you start doing things that you wouldn’t normally do, so I’ve tried to focus on what I normally do, week after week, day after day do.”