Kentucky’s Stephen Johnson did not have his finest passing day (12-of-29 for 192 yards with one interception) at Tennessee. “We’d like to be a little more efficient throwing the ball,” UK Coach Mark Stoops said, “but that’s a combination of things — giving him some time, getting open, and all that.” First-year Austin Peay Coach Will Healy pulled the redshirt off freshman JaVaughn Craig four games ago, and the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Chattanooga product has given APSU some hope for the future. Craig ran for two TDs in last week’s 67-30 loss to Eastern Kentucky. He threw for 322 yards and five TDs, and he ran for 144 yards in a 41-40 loss to Tennessee State.
Never miss a local story.
UK’s Jojo Kemp has been overshadowed as a senior by the star-caliber play of Boom Williams (1,025 yards rushing) and Benny Snell (854). Kemp, a Deland, Fla., product, ran for 90 yards on eight carries at Tennessee with a career-long 71-yard TD run last week. The 5-10, 200-pound Kemp needs 16 yards rushing to pass Steve Campassi (1,609 yards) for 16th on Kentucky’s all-time career list. Austin Peay moved Kentel Williams from wide receiver four games back, and the freshman from Knoxville has thrived in the backfield. He ran for 176 yards against EKU and set a school record with 399 total yards.
Former Franklin County star Ryan Timmons was UK’s leading receiver in 2014 (45 catches), but he has only 27 catches combined as a junior (12) and a senior (15). Mark Stoops says the 5-10, 198-pound speedster “has made some big plays for us through the years, and this year he has been more consistent.” Austin Peay’s Jared Beard leads the OVC in receiving yards (920; 69 catches; seven TDs). The junior had 11 receptions for 181 yards against Mercer.
Kentucky sophomore C.J. Conrad (14 catches, 217 yards) caught his first pass in three games at Tennessee for 22 yards. Backup Greg Hart (six catches, 32 yards) has caught one pass in three of UK’s past four games. Austin Peay’s James Coleman has 11 catches, four of which have gone for touchdowns.
Senior center Jon Toth has 45 career starts and has been the leader of one of UK’s best run-blocking offensive fronts in 2016. Mark Stoops says the 6-5, 300-pound Indianapolis product “is everything you look for in a person in your program.” Redshirt junior Ramsey Meyers, whose 28 career starts at right guard included the first four games this season, will participate in Senior Day and give up his final season of eligibility. Austin Peay tackles Tyler Miles, a redshirt senior, and Max Ewoldt, a fourth-year junior, anchor the Governors’ line.
In 10 starts this season, Kentucky senior end Courtney Miggins has 23 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. The 6-5, 285-pound junior-college transfer has five pass breakups and a fumble recovery, too. Austin Peay’s Lloyd Tubman began his career at UK but never played and ultimately transferred after an off-the-field issue. In nine games for APSU, the 6-5, 225-pound end from Seneca High School has 27 tackles with seven tackles for loss and two sacks.
Kentucky’s subpar defensive performance at Tennessee was probably tied to weakside linebacker Jordan Jones leaving the game after making only one tackle due to back spasms. The 6-2, 220-pound sophomore (82 stops) slipped behind strong safety Mike Edwards (85) for the UK team lead in tackles. Mark Stoops says he is optimistic that Jones will be able to play this week. A 6-2, 230-pound redshirt sophomore, Austin Peay MLB Gunnar Scholato has made a whopping 120 tackles, including seven TFL, and has an interception.
Kentucky nickelback Blake McClain (49 tackles, two interceptions), free safety Marcus McWilson (46 tackles, a pick-six vs. Mississippi State) and cornerback J.D. Harmon (34 tackles, three interceptions) are all seniors playing their final games in Commonwealth Stadium. Austin Peay boundary corner Roderick Owens has two of the Governors’ four interceptions this season. In free safety Rodney Saulsberry Jr. and field corner Trent Taylor, APSU starts two freshmen DBs.
Kentucky was clobbered at Tennessee last week in net punting (49.5 yards to 33). UK place-kicker Austin MacGinnis has made 13 of 16 field goals. The Wildcats are fifth in the SEC in both punt returns (9.8 yards average) and kickoff returns (23.1). Austin Peay’s Kentel Williams returned an EKU kickoff 97 yards for a TD last week. Kyran Moore had a 98-yard kickoff return TD against Eastern Illinois. Place-kicker Nick Gauna is 5-of-8 on field goals with a long of 52. Punter Devin Stuart averages 38.1 yards a kick.
Kentucky 63, Austin Peay 16