Blazers Finish No. 1 in AFCA Coaches Poll Following Fourth Title; Cap First Undefeated Season

Blazers Finish No. 1 in AFCA Coaches Poll Following Fourth Title; Cap First Undefeated Season
Posted at 3:29 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-17 15:29:00-05

WACO, Texas – The Valdosta State football team claimed its fourth national title in a thrilling 49-47 win over No. 2 Ferris State on Saturday at McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney, Texas, and finished the season No. 1 in the final American Football Coaches Association Division II Poll, announced Monday.


VSU went a perfect 14-0 on the year en route to the championship and won its school-record 15th-straight game in the win Saturday, dating back to last season.  The win marked the fourth championship for VSU and first since 2012, while the Blazers now have won the national championship on Dec. 15 for the third time (2007, 2012, 2018).  


The Blazers, who were picked fifth in the preseason Gulf South Conference preseason poll and receiving votes in the preseason AFCA poll, went undefeated for the first time in school history, won their seventh Gulf South Conference title, hosted three playoff football games and won the national title.  


The final AFCA poll saw the Blazers garner all 33 first-place votes, while Ferris State finished No. 2 after the 49-47 loss to VSU in the title game.  Minnesota State finished third, followed by Notre Dame (Ohio) and Tarleton State (Texas) rounded out the top five.


Third-year head coach Kerwin Bell was named GSC Co-Coach of the Year, while sophomore quarterback Rogan Wells was named the runner-up for the prestigious Harlon Hill Trophy and senior offensive lineman Jeremy King was named runner-up for the Gene Upshaw Award, as he was the top offensive lineman finisher in the award.  


Despite not winning the Harlon Hill, Wells had an outstanding performance in the national championship, as it marked the first time the top two Harlon Hill finishers met in the national championship with Ferris State's Jayru Campbell.  


Wells accounted for a NCAA National Championship Game record six touchdowns on five passing and one receiving, while his five passing touchdowns tied the championship game record.  He finished the game 19 of 31 passing with five touchdown passes and no interceptions for 349 yards, while running 13 times for 39 yards and catching one pass for a 25-yard touchdown.  Campbell, however, struggled passing, going 10 of 18 with one interception, one touchdown and 99 yards.  He had 22 carries for 122 yards and a score.  


VSU finished the season leading the nation in scoring offense at 52.0 points per game, while the 728 points scored broke the Blazers' own GSC record earlier in the playoffs.  The Blazers also led the nation in defensive touchdowns with seven, along with winning percentage.  Wells led the nation in points responsible for with 300.  He was second nationally in passing touchdowns and third in points responsible for per game.  Senior kicker Andrew Gray finished second nationally in points scored with 144 as he broke the school-record for points scored in a season earlier in the playoffs also.  Junior wide receiver Lio'undre Gallimore, who had two touchdown receptions in the championship, finished the season third nationally in yards per reception at 25.00. 


As a team, the Blazers finished second nationally to Ferris State in first down offense with 341, while finishing eight in passing INT's with 18, ninth in red zone defense (.652), fourth in red zone offense (.901), fourth in team passing efficiency (167.37) and fourth in total offense (523.9).