VALDOSTA, GA. (vstateblazers.com) — Behind a 35-0 run in the second half, the No. 3 Valdosta State football team posted a 49-13 victory over Shorter University Saturday evening to improve to 4-0 on the year and 1-0 in Gulf South Conference play.
The Blazers amassed a season-high 574 yards of offense in the game and held Shorter to just 49 yards of offense in the second half as it accumulated 202 yards of offense in the first half and trailed 14-13 at intermission. VSU rushed for a season-high 316 yards and passed for a season-high 258 yards. The Blazer "D" recorded its third touchdown with a house call by graduate Christian Matthew late in the fourth quarter on a 40-yard pick six for the 49-13 margin. VSU senior linebacker Nick Moss recorded 13 tackles and eight solo stops to lead the team, while VSU recorded four sacks and six tackles for loss for 30 yards. It was Moss' second-straight game of double-digit tackles.
After a great start by the Blazers as they forced the Hawks into a punt on the first possession of the game, VSU wasted no time in getting on the board needing just two plays and an 83-yard drive. On the first play from scrimmage, junior quarterback Ivory Durham hit senior wide receiver Victor Talley for 46 yards and then Durham found senior Lio'undre Gallimore for 37 yards and a touchdown with 11:04 left in the first. VSU added its second score of the opening frame on a seven play, 70-yard drive late in the quarter as Durham used his feet for 23-yards on a 3rd and 10 from the VSU 47. He then scored from nine-yards out for a 14-0 lead.
The upset-minded Hawks (2-3, 0-2 GSC) got things going offensively early in the second quarter, following an interception from Durham for just the second turnover of the season on the Blazers as Devonn Lane picked off the deflected pass. With renewed energy, SU quarterback Aeneas Dennis hit Kyle Morlock on a 2nd and 8 from the 50 for 39-yards and then Dennis scored from one yard out for a 14-7 score. Following a Blazer punt, the Hawks took over at their own 13 and Dennis hit John Dietl III for 20-yards on a 3rd and eight and then Dennis hit Tony Bethea for a 28-yard strike and a 14-13 score. SU went for two but the Cam Shirley pass was intercepted in the end zone.
The game remained 14-13 at intermission, but the Blazers came out firing on all cylinders in the second half. The onslaught began with a five play, 75-yard drive to get things started as junior running back Jamar Thompkins rushed for 25 yards on the first play of the half and junior running back Seth McGill had back-to-back 14-yard scampers setting up Durham from four yards out for his second rushing touchdown of the game and a 21-13 lead.
VSU went up 28-13 with another 75-yard drive later in the quarter as McGill scored from five yards out for a 28-13 lead through three frames. The offensive production continued in the fourth as McGill scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from 37-yards out and a 35-13 lead. The Blazers then used the longest drive of the game, going 91 yards on nine plays as Durham connected with Gallimore for his second score of the game and a 42-13 lead. Matthew then had the pick six for the final margin.
After just 216 yards of total offense in the first half, the Blazers exploded with 25 rushes for 236 yards on the ground, while Durham and freshman quarterback Sam Edward threw for 122 yards and the Blazers had 41 plays in the half for 358 yards of total offense.
Thompkins and McGill each went over 100 yards, marking the second time this season the Blazers had two players over 100-yards rushing. Thompkins finished with 108 yards and McGill had 104 yards with two scores. Durham finished with 82 yards on the ground on nine carries and two rushing scores. He was 17 of 32 passing for the game for a season-high 258 yards and two scores, along with one interception. Gallimore had seven catches for a season-high 135 yards and two scores.
The Hawks ran 24 plays in the second half for a total of 49 yards, while the running game was stymied to just 13 carries for 30 yards in the half and Dennis passed for just 19 yards in the second half. For the game, Dennis was 12 of 24 passing for 136 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Noah Holland led the way with 71 yards on the ground on 18 carries. Dennis had 11 carries for eight yards and one score on the ground.
VSU closes its homestand next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium versus Delta State. The game will be the annual Pink Out Game and all Blazer fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game.