MONTGOMERY – Central Arkansas overcame a pair of deficits, including on the final minute to defeat Austin Peay 24-17 in the seventh annual Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff at Cramton Bowl.
UCA junior quarterback Breylin Smith threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Lujuan Winningham on a fade pattern with 34 seconds left in the game to lift the Bears to the come-from-behind win in the first game of the 2020 college football season. A two-point conversion pass from Smith to tight end Sam Camargo handed the Bears their second come-from-behind win in two years.
No. 11 Central Arkansas marched 68 yards in six plays in just over a minute for the winning score.
Freshman defensive back Tamaurain sealed the win with an interception at the UCA 6-yard line as time expired.
The Bears beat the Governors in similar fashion on the road in 2019, with Smith hitting Winningham with touchdown passes twice in the fourth quarter and cornerback Robert Rochell capping a 24-16 win with an interception in the final seconds.
Austin Peay (0-1) had taken a 17-16 lead when quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall scored on 1-yard run with 1:40 left on the clock.
Central Arkansas trailed 10-0 in the second quarter, but reeled off 17 straight points to take is first lead on its opening possession of the third quarter.
Austin Peay scored on the very first play of the college football season when freshman running back C.J. Evans raced 75 yards up the west sideline for a touchdown.
“We wanted to come and start fast and C.J. did that,” APSU first-year head coach Marquas Lovings said. “On the first play of the game, he takes it 75 yards down the sideline. It was the first carry in his collegiate career. He will always remember scoring on his first collegiate rushing attempt and scoring the first touchdown of the 2020 college football season.”
APSU kicker Grant Paulette booted a 28-yard field early in the second quarter to take a 10-0 lead.
Central Arkansas got on the board when Ray Hayden hit a 30-yard field to cut the lead to 10-3 with 7:37 left in the half.
The Bears were back in business on their next possession following a botched snap on the punt. The 27-yard loss set UCA up with a first down at the Governors 11-yard line, but three plays only netted three yards and Hayden added 27-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 10-6 with 3:41 left.
On the next possession, Oatsvall lost a fumble at the 44-yard line, which was recovered by Deandre Lamont at the Govs 27-yard line. On the very next play, Smith was intercepted in the end zone by Nathan Page.
“Boy, wasn’t that like last year?’ said UCA head coach Nathan Brown. “At the end of the day, we found our two horses, Tyler (Hudson) and Lujuan made big plays in the end. Any time you get a win, that’s a big win. It’s hard to win a Division I football game, regardless of who you’re playing.
“So tonight was a great night. You get a chance to play in front of probably the biggest audience to ever watch a UCA football game. And to win in the fashion we did. We gave them a show. We weren’t pretty but I guarantee it was fun to watch. Our big players made plays when it mattered.”
Central Arkansas took its first lead of the game on the first possession of the third quarter. Kierre Crossley accounted for all 54 yards on the ground in the three-play drive. He ran for 17 yards on the first play and followed up with a 5-yard run. On second and five, Crossley burst up the middle a scored on a 34-yard touchdown run. Hayden’s extra point made 16-10.
Crossley led all rushers with 110 yards (13 carries) and one touchdown.
Evans added 98 yards (10 carries) one TD in collegiate debut for the Governors.
Smith completed 26 of 49 passes for 283 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Winningham caught six passes for 86 yards and one TD for the Bears.
Oatsvall completed 14 of 31 passes for 181 yards and one interception. He also ran for 37 yards and one TD. Oatsvall also punted seven times (267 yards) for a 38.1 average and pinned the Bears inside the 20-yard line twice.