PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Valdosta State football team took care of business on the road with a big 30-19 Gulf South Conference win over the West Florida Argonauts on Saturday in Pensacola, Fla.
The Blazers got off to a strong start defensively, holding the Argonauts at bay until the offense ignited midway through the first quarter. After taking over 1st and 10 at their own 20-yard line, the Blazers marched down the field for an impressive drive that ended with an Adam Robles 6-yard scamper into the endzone to cap off a five-plus minute drive for the only scoring play of the first quarter.
As the final seconds ticked away in the first, Robles connected with Travon Roberts for a big 37-yard play, and the momentum carried right over into the second quarter, as Robles delivered to Roberts again for a 25-yard slant just two plays later. The latter play put the Blazers at UWF's 1-yard line, and Ron Johnson put the exclamation point on the drive with a rush around the left side to put VSU on top 14-0.
The potential play of the game came just moments later on West Florida's ensuing possession, when John Marvin picked off Mike Beaudry deep in Argonaut territory and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. The pick six put VSU up 21-0 early in the second quarter, and marked the first interception return for Valdosta State since Egim Etta-Tawo brought one back 45 yards against Florida Tech on October 29th last year.
UWF was never able to recover from VSU's early scoring barrage, thanks to a strong defensive effort by Valdosta State's Black Swarm in key moments throughout the rest of the contest. The Blazers came up with several big stops, including a stand late in the first half, when the Argonauts had 1st and goal at the Blazer 8-yard line, but only came away with a field goal.
West Florida managed to put points on the board on many of their drives throughout the second and third quarter, but were forced to settle for field goals on each of those occasions. As a result, UWF kicker Austin Williams recorded four unanswered field goals to trim Valdosta State's lead to 21-12 at the 9:12 mark in the third quarter. Williams' four field goals marked the most by a VSU opponent since December 1, 2012, when Curt Duncan of Carson-Newman hit four during the Blazers' 2012 National Championship playoff run.
Robles, who threw for a season high 21 completions and 189 yards in the game, put the dagger in the Argonauts midway through the third quarter, when he connected with Dallas Baldner on a fade route for a 20-yard touchdown. The reception marked Baldner's first touchdown catch of the season and put the Blazers out of reach with a 28-12 advantage.
Not to be outdone, special teams got in on the scoring action late in the third quarter with a blocked punt deep in UWF territory. The deflected ball squirted out of the back of UWF's endzone, which gave the Blazers a 30-12 lead and put the finishing touches on the timely Valdosta State victory.
West Florida finished the scoring on the night with their only touchdown of the game when Beaudry hooked up with Gage Krull for a 15-yard score with just 29 seconds left in the game.
With the win, VSU improved to 1-2 on the season and evened up their conference record at 1-1. Meanwhile, the Argonauts suffered their first loss of the season to fall to 2-1, 0-1 in GSC play.
The Blazers return to action in two weeks to face West Georgia, after an off week next weekend.
Be sure to catch the Kerwin Bell radio show, live from Coyoacan Restaurant each Monday night at 7:00 p.m. The show is broadcasted live, and fans can listen in to the show on WDDQ Talk 92.1FM in Valdosta.