APSU, TSU renew rivalry in Sergeant York Trophy game
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Sergeant Alvin C. York is one of the most legendary American soldiers of World War I. In 1918, in the Battle of the Meuse River-Argonne, York and seven other soldiers, outnumbered and under duress of heavy machine gun fire, valiantly captured 132 prisoners. For his part, York was bestowed with several decorations, including the Medal of Honor.
Today, York's name endures in the Sergeant York Trophy series. The series, which began in 2007, is a competition between the four Ohio Valley Conference football programs located in the state of Tennessee - Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin.
The Sergeant York Trophy is awarded annually to the school with the best head- to-head record amongst the four teams. It is only the second traveling trophy that involves more than two teams in collegiate sports; the other being the Commander in Chief's Trophy, played by Air Force, Army, and Navy.
Saturday, the series gets underway in exciting fashion as Austin Peay and Tennessee State meet in their respective Ohio Valley Conference openers.
Since Austin Peay's return to OVC football in 2007, the two teams have met three times, with each game proving to be a nail-biter. The three meetings have been decided by a total of seven points, and no game has been decided by more than three points.
In 2007, Tennessee State eked out a 33-32 victory after current Arizona Cardinals defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie blocked an Austin Peay extra point attempt in overtime.
In 2008, Tennessee State was again victorious as the Tigers staved off an Austin Peay rally and kicker Eric Benson drilled a field goal with two seconds remaining in a 37-34 decision.
Last season, Austin Peay overcame a 21-7 deficit, scoring three consecutive times in the second half to capture a 24-21 victory.
Saturday's game should prove to be equally exciting, as Austin Peay's OVC leading rushing attack collides with Tennessee State's OVC leading rush defense.
The Governors' Ryan White leads the OVC in yards per rush (8.1) and is second in rushing yards per game (89).
His counterpart, Preston Brown of Tennessee State, leads the OVC in rushing yards per game (133) and scoring (3 TD) following a record-breaking performance in a Week 2 loss to JSU,
The Tennessee State defense has been led by linebacker Rico Council and defensive back Eugene Clifford. Clifford has recorded 13 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups this season.
Tennessee State also ranks first in the OVC with seven sacks, led by Donte'e Nicholls with two. Fittingly, Austin Peay has yet to allow a sack the entire season. This is just another statistical confirmation of the competitive challenge these teams will pose to one another on Saturday.
Both teams enter the contest with a 1-1 record.
The Sergeant York Trophy was won by Tennessee Tech in 2009.
09/17 15:04:16 ET