BOZEMAN -- Last week, Austin Peay shocked No. 4 Sacramento State 42-28 to set up an FCS playoff quarterfinal game in Bozeman with Montana State. And Bobcat Jeff Choate says the Governors showed heart in their upset victory.
“I saw an Austin Peay team that was most excited to play on the field. They played with more energy, they played with a higher level of execution,” Choate said.
Choate stressed that you can't quantify effort, but you can check the stats to see Austin Peay quarterback JaVaugh Green is a special talent that MSU has to contain.
“This guy has accounted for 36 touchdowns, he’s thrown for over 3,000 yards, rushed for over 800. That’s a big-time player right there. And he’s a big kid that’s a tough tackle. He’s not a guy that’s easy to get on the ground, so we are going to have to do a good job of playing with disciplined eyes,” said Choate.
On defense, the Governors are ball hawks. They have 15 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries this year. Junior defensive back Kordell Jackson accounts for nine turnovers on his own.
“They play with good technique, that’s not a coincidence that (Jackson) has seven picks," said MSU wide receiver Kevin Kassis. "I think we’ve played some back ends that take some plays off sometimes, but I think these guys are well-coached and are bought in to playing all 60 minutes.”
But the Bobcats have a huge home-field advantage in this game. If you drove Austin Peay’s playoff route in the past two games, round-trip from Clarksville, Tennessee to Sacramento and then to Bozeman, that’s more than 6,125 miles in a week alone.
“I think it makes it one of the toughest tournaments there is, especially if you have to go on the road," said Choate. "You can see why a team like James Madison or a North Dakota State, year in and year out where they have a top-two seed and they’re sitting in Fargo until the semis are over, it makes a lot of easier to win this tournament.”
Montana State and Austin Peay kick off at 6 p.m. Friday at Bobcat Stadium. The winner will then face the winner of Illinois State and North Dakota State next week in the semifinal round.