ATHENS — Austin Peay knew exactly what it was up against at Sanford Stadium, and all things considered, the Governors knew it could have been worse.
“We ran into a little bit of a buzz saw,” Austin Peay coach Will Healy said after No. 3-ranked Georgia handed his team a 45-0 defeat on Saturday.
The Governors lifted preseason Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Jeremiah Oatsvall early, opting to go wit JaVaughn Craig and a more conservative game plan.
“Jeremiah had an uncharacteristic day, [and] probably a little bit of it, a lot of it, is on me,” Healy said. “When you go in front of 93 thousand people on ESPN and that moment’s pretty big, we probably should’ve been a little bit more simple and given those guys a chance to play a little bit more free.
“We’ve got two really good quarterbacks and two guys that we feel like can lead us to a [FCS] national championship …. we feel like we can win with both of them.”
Craig said he and his teammates were enjoying the moment.
“You play against the University of Georgia once, so it’s taking advantage of the moment and going out there, having fun with a smile on your face,” Craig said.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to perform with your brothers next to you, and once we were able to settle down and think about that, just play one play at a time, I think we did well.”
Georgia out-gained the FCS Governors 508-152 in yards, and the coaches agreed to shorten the fourth quarter to 10 minutes the home team leading 38-0 at the half and 45-0 at the end of the third quarter.
Austin Peay athletic director Gerald Harrison had no issue with the shortening of the game, and was relatively pleased with the game under the circumstances.
“We did pretty well, we weren’t injured, our players were tired and worn out but mostly healthy,” Harrison said. “We obviously can still win a national championship without this game, and they’re probably going to compete for a national championship at their level.”
Healy agreed, saying “I promise y’all we’re going to be pulling for the University of Georgia the rest of the year.”
Austin Peay’s affinity for Georgia goes beyond the football field.
The Kirby Smart Family Foundation chipped in with $5,000 for the family of Austin Peay line coach Josh Eargle, which has been fundraising to find a cure for their 5-year-old daughter Landrey.
Landrey has a rare genetic condition, and Georgia fans have came to the forefront of her fundraising campaign, helping to raise more than $125,000.
Kirby Smart said his wife, Mary Beth, read a story on DawgNation and talked to him about the Kirby Smart Family Foundation contributing.
“We can’t thank Dawg Nation enough,” Kristen Eargle, Landry’s mother, said in a halftime video presentation. “This has been unbelievable.
“We’re just grateful and so thankful. It’s just so hard to put into words.”
The Austin Peay football program received $500,000 to play Georgia on Saturday.