SCORE: No. 8/9 Valdosta State 51, Florida Tech 21
RECORDS:Valdosta State 7-0 (5-0 GSC), Florida Tech 5-2 (2-2 GSC)
LOCATION:Melbourne, Fla. (Panther Stadium)
THE LEAD: The No. 8/9 Valdosta State football team jumped out to a 24-0 lead at halftime and fought off a second half rally by Florida Tech for a 51-21 victory on the road Saturday. VSU tallied its sixth-straight game of scoring 50 points or more with a strip sack fumble recovery for a touchdown as time expired capping a thrilling game.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Blazers wasted little time on the opening possession as the team converted a third and six at the VSU 29 with a 51-yard bomb from redshirt sophomore Rogan Wells to sophomore Brian Saunds and redshirt freshman Jamar Thompkins scored on third and goal from the one for a 7-0 lead 3:40 into the contest.
- The VSU "D" stopped FIT on its first possession at the VSU 25 as senior Guito Ervilus came up with a big tackle on 4thand one in the backfield.
- Later in the first quarter, VSU took over following a Panther punt at the VSU 45. Wells rushed for 12 and then hit junior Lio'undre Gallimore in stride for a 38-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
- After a FIT punt early in the second, VSU began again with great field position at its 40. Sophomore Kenny Benjamin rattled off a 13-yard run and Wells hit redshirt freshman Reshad Washington for 20 yards. A flip pitch to Benjamin scored Wells' second touchdown toss of the half and a 21-0 lead with 9:36 left in the first half.
- The VSU "D" turned the Panthers away again on fourth down on the ensuing drive as FIT quarterback Trent Chmelik's pass to Antwuan Haynes went for three yards when the Panthers needed five again just outside the VSU 20.
- The Blazers made the Panthers pay again as Thompkins extended the drive with a 15-yard scamper on third down, while Wells used his feet for an 18-yard run on the drive and a pass interference penalty on the Panthers moved the ball to the five. Senior and reigning GSC Special Teams Player of the Week, Andrew Gray hit a 20-yard field goal for a 24-0 lead with 2:44 left in the half.
- FIT had its best drive of the first half marching to the VSU 18, but three incomplete passes for Chmelik brought up a fourth down with under a minute left in the half, but Trey Schaneville missed the field goal wide right as VSU preserved the shutout at half.
- FIT got on the board late in the third quarter courtesy of a penalty on a fourth down at the VSU 21 by the Blazers as Chmelik hit Damien McGhee for an 11-yard strike and a 24-7 score with 45 seconds left in the frame.
- Early in the fourth, the Blazers had to punt, but a bad snap forced senior Gavin Wilson to run, but he was stripped by Simon Williams as Williams finally picked up the ball and ran 37-yards for a touchdown and a 24-14 score.
- On the ensuing drive, VSU didn't panic as Wells hit Washington for a key seven-yard gain on 3rdand 4 from the VSU 48 to keep the drive alive. Freshman Seth McGill scored from 12-yards out for a 31-14 lead.
- Chmelik's pass was intercepted by junior Alex Brown for the first INT of the game as Wells, on a 3rdand 12 from the FIT 48, used another broken play for a career-long 48-yard run down the FIT sideline for a score and 38-14 lead as VSU scored two touchdowns in a matter of just 13 seconds.
- The Panthers scored on their next drive for a 38-21 score and FIT then tried the onside kick, but on a high bounce Saunds came up with it.
- Things had gotten chippie throughout much of the second half and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on FIT as VSU started at the FIT 40. Freshman quarterback Ivory Durham tallied two carries for 25 yards with the latter being for 22 yards and a score for a 45-21 lead with two minutes left.
- FIT moved the ball to the VSU 2 with one second left, but Chmelik was sacked by seniors Mitch Watsonand Isaiah Staton as Chmelik fumbled with freshman Aaron Dawson picking up the ball and running 88 yards for a score and a 51-21 final margin.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- For the half, VSU tallied 130 yards rushing on 21 carries, while Wells went 9 of 17 passing for 157 yards and two scores. He also had seven rushes for 47 yards.
- VSU tallied 38 plays for 287 yards, while holding FIT to just 13 rushes for 38 yards and the Panthers also were 9 of 17 passing for 127 yards.
- VSU was 4 of 7 on third down, while holding FIT to 0 of 6 on the pivotal down and the Blazers held the Panthers to 0 of 2 on fourth down.
- The Blazers tallied 25 first downs in the game, while recording 282 yards rushing on 41 attempts with 214 yards passing on 15 of 31, while recording 496 yards on 72 plays for a 6.9 average.
- FIT had 23 first downs with 101 yards rushing on 24 attempts. The Panthers threw for 290 yards on 26 of 45 with one INT and recorded 391 yards on 69 plays.
- The Blazers went 9 of 15 on third down, while holding FIT to 2 of 11 on third and 0 of 2 on fourth.
- The 88-yard fumble return by Dawson marked the third-longest in school history in a game.
- VSU, who entered leading the nation in scoring offense, tallied its sixth-straight game of scoring 50 or more points.
- FIT entered as the No. 6 team nationally in fumbles lost with just two, while it was allowing just 333 yards per game for third in the league.
- Wells went a career-high 12 carries for 120 yards and a score, while going 15 of 31 for 214 yards and two touchdown passes.
- Thompkins had ten carries for 71 yards and a score, while Saunds caught three balls for 79 yards.
- Defensively, VSU tallied two sacks for 14 yards, as FIT was second in the league and 20thnationally in sacks allowed at just 1.00 per game. The Blazers had five tackles for loss for 19 yards, one INT and one fumble return for a score, along with seven pass breakups.
- Senior Craig Watts led the team defensively with seven tackles, six solo stops, one sack and two tackles for loss, along with two breakups.
- VSU returns home to host North Greenville in the first matchup between the two teams for Homecoming 2018 Saturday at 3 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.