Football Cruises to 42-14 Win Over Florida Tech

Football Cruises to 42-14 Win Over Florida Tech
Football Cruises to 42-14 Win Over Florida Tech
Posted at 12:15 AM, Oct 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-29 00:15:00-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. - The red hot Valdosta State football team outscored the Florida Tech Panthers 28-7 in the second half to claim a dominant 42-14 victory in Gulf South Conference play on Saturday night in Titletown, USA.

Both the Blazers and the Panthers entered Saturday's contest in the middle of a five-way tie for third place in the conference standings. With the victory, however, Valdosta State shifted into a three-way tie for second place in the GSC with a record of 4-3 overall and 4-2 against league opponents. The Panthers, meanwhile, dropped into a tie with West Florida for sixth place with a 5-4 overall record and 3-3 stint in conference play.

At the end of the first quarter, FIT held a 7-0 advantage, thanks to a 4-play drive late in the first quarter that was capped off by a long 44-yard strike from Mark Cato to Romell Guerrier. The touchdown pass was the exclamation point on the Panthers second drive of the day, and it came at the 4:21 mark in the opening frame.

After forcing the Panthers to punt the ball away to begin the second quarter, the Blazer offense went to work. Freshman quarterback Rogan Wells led the charge on the ensuing drive using two completions and two positive rushes to help compose a 5-play, 69 yard drive, which ended with Wells rushing for his first touchdown of the night.

The score remained locked at 7-7 throughout most of the remainder of the first half. Valdosta State picked up steam before going to the locker room for intermission, however, thanks to a 67-yard drive during the final two minutes of the first half, which was highlighted by a 47-yard pass from Wells to Dallas Baldner inside the final minute. The completion set the stage for another rushing touchdown by Wells, which came about thanks to a gutsy play call to go for the touchdown on 4th-and-goal with less than five seconds to go in the half. The move paid off for Head Coach Kerwin Bell, and it helped take the Blazers to the locker room with a 14-7 advantage and their first lead of the night.

Valdosta State's defense and another impressive special teams performance by reigning GSC Special Teams Player of the Week Gavin Wilson allowed the Blazers to manage the game throughout the rest of the second half, and the offense took advantage of the afforded opportunities with four second-half touchdowns.

Defensively, the Blazers were led once again by Malik Slater, who racked up nine tackles in the game alongside teammate Sharmaine Washington's seven takedowns. On offense, Baldner topped the receiving corps with three catches and 67 yards, while Wells led the team in both the rushing (21 attempts, 76 yards) and passing (16 completions, 238 yards). The freshman quarterback had a hand in all six of VSU's touchdowns, four of which came on the ground.

FIT's Antwuan Haynes, the league's leading rusher, was held to just 59 yards on 18 attempts rushing, and reigning GSC Player of the Week Mark Cato was only able to muster 189 passing yards against the Black Swarm.

The Blazers will take their winning streak into homecoming next Saturday, as the Blazers will host the Tigers of West Alabama, who currently sit alone in first place in the GSC standings. The contest, which is slated for 3:00 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder stadium, will also serve as senior day, where we will recognize our 2018 senior class during a pregame ceremony.