VALDOSTA, GA. (vstateblazers.com) — The No. 3-ranked Valdosta State football team forced four turnovers and defeated Albany State 21-3 Saturday evening/Sunday Morning after a 2:30 h/m lightning delay just before kickoff. The Blazers improved to 3-0 on the year, while Albany State fell to 2-1.
VSU junior quarterback Ivory Durham went 14 of 29 passing for a career-high 207 yards and three touchdowns in the game throwing to three different receivers. Durham also had seven rushes for 42 yards. Senior Lio'undre Gallimore had four catches for 73 yards and a score, while graduate student Brian Saunds had three receptions for 70 yards and a score.
The Blazers had 147 yards rushing and 207 through the air, outgaining ASU 354-213. The defense held ASU to 4 of 21 passing with two interceptions and just 65 yards through the air, while the Golden Rams were led by 94 yards on 17 carries from Marcuis Fulks.
Defensively, VSU recorded five sacks for 34 yards and seven tackles for loss for 40 yards, two interception returns and two fumble returns. Reigning Gulf South Conference Defensive Player of the Week, Nick Moss, had eight tackles with five solo stops, while junior Javiontae Martin had seven tackles with one sack and two tackles for loss.
Right after the coin toss, the game was suspended due to lightning in the area. Following the delay, the game finally started at approximately 9:30 p.m., and there was a light rain falling over Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. VSU took the opening kick and marched right down the field. On a 3rd and 9 from the VSU 28, Durham hit Gallimore for 16 yards and a first down. The duo then connected for 12 yards. Later during the drive, on a 2nd and 17 from the VSU 49, Durham scampered 34 yards for a first down. On first and goal from the eight, Durham hit senior Chris Barrett for a score and a 7-0 lead with 9:38 left in the opening quarter.
On the first ASU possession, Fulks coughed up the ball on a 2nd and nine from the ASU 25. VSU senior Arrington Dulin recovered the fumble, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Blazers moved the ball to the ASU 40. The Blazers had a bad snap on the punt on 4th down as ASU began at the VSU 31. The Blazer "D" came up big again as ASU quarterback Dionte Bonneau's pass was intercepted by sophomore Jalen Jackson at the VSU 19 and returned 23 yards for the second turnover of the game.
VSU moved to the ASU 26 late in the quarter, but was stopped on 4th and 9 from for a turnover on downs. Early in the second quarter, the Blazer "D" recorded its second fumble recovery of the game as ASU's Kam Ward fumbled from a hit from junior Jameon Gaskin and junior Dallas Anthony recovered as the Golden Rams were driving once again. ASU closed out the half with one of its best drives of the game going nine plays for 69 yards in 3:07 of game time as Gabriel Ballinas kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired in the first half for a 7-3 VSU lead.
The Blazers had 167 yards of offense in the first half with 86 passing yards and 81 on the ground, while ASU had 60 yards passing on just two completions and 80 yards on the ground for 140 total. Durham was 7 of 17 passing in the half with first drive touchdown pass, while Bonneau was just 2 for 10 with one interception.
The first three drives of the second half resulted in punts, but on the fourth drive and second possession for the Blazers, the Durham and the offense found some momentum thanks to a great run Durham from Durham, going 19 yards on a 3rd and 13 to keep the drive alive. VSU moved to the ASU 33 and Durham connected with Gallimore on a beautiful throw and catch for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead with 5:30 left in the frame.
Blazer junior Taurus Dotson came up with the second Bonneau interception on the ensuing drive on a deep pass to the VSU 25 as Dotson outjumped the ASU receiver and pulled the ball away from him for the pick and the fourth turnover of the game. Once again, VSU was unable to score off the miscue.
Early in the fourth, VSU began at its own 14 and drove down to the ASU 43 when Durham hit graduate Brian Saunds for a 43-yard strike and a 21-3 lead.
VSU improved to 20-2 all-time against Albany State and improved to 11-0 against the Golden Rams in Valdosta. The Blazers have allowed just six points in the last eight quarters in the 38-3 win at ASU in 2019 and the victory tonight. VSU forced ASU into four turnovers, but was unable to score any points off the miscues as the Blazers have forced ten turnovers with just one interception on the Blazers this season for a +9 average in turnover margin. The four turnovers were the most by VSU in a game this season as they had three turnovers in each of the first two games.
The Blazers have a bye week this week and return to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. versus Shorter University to begin Gulf South Conference play.