VALDOSTA, Ga. - No. 1 Valdosta State got two defensive touchdowns and another on special teams to defeat Florida Tech 52-14 in Gulf South Conference football action at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Valdosta State improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in GSC play while Florida Tech fell to 1-4 and 0-3 in league play.
The Blazers struggled offensively in the first half as they managed just 71 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of action. However, VSU built a 17-0 lead during the frame behind scores by both its special teams and defensive units.
Willie Downs got Valdosta State on the board just over a minute into the game as he fielded a punt from FIT's Brion Ashley and returned it 62 yards for a score.
After a second Panther punt, Valdosta State added a 42-yard field goal by Anthony Pistelli, but managed just 29 yards on its remaining six drives of the first half. Tevin Davis scored the Blazers final points of the frame as he scooped up a Bobby Vega fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown.
Valdosta State got on track offensively in the third quarter, during which it compiled 278 yards of total offense. After picking up 31 yards on its first drive of the frame, the Blazer offense found the end zone for the first time on its second possession as it marched 71 yards on seven plays. Cayden Cochran completed three of his four passes on the drive for 41 yards while Austin Scott finished off the drive with a pair of carries for 33 yards, including a 16-yard rush that put VSU up 24-0 with 9:42 to go in the third quarter.
Cedric O'Neal added a 63-yard touchdown run two possessions later before Dan Masteller hooked up with Aaron George from 13 yards out to cap off a five-play, 74-yard drive for Florida Tech's first points. The Panther touchdown marked the first allowed by the VSU defense in more than 169 minutes of play.
Scott scored on a 72-yard run on the ensuing drive, the longest rush of his career, while Jeremy Grable picked off a Masteller pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to post VSU to a 45-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Nick Davis added a one-yard touchdown run for Valdosta State in the fourth quarter while Masteller threw a 12-yard touchdown to Daniel Fernande with 31 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.
Valdosta State finished the game with 416 yards of total offense, including 275 rushing and 141 through the air. Scott picked up 123 yards to go along with the two scores on just six carries while O'Neal carried the ball seven times for 97 yards. Cochran completed 14-of-27 passes for 127 yards while Roshmel Young caught a career-best four passes for 34 yards.
The VSU defense, which tallied two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the game, was led by Chris Pope, who had eight tackles, including two for loss. Lawrence Virgil added seven stops while Kenny Murphy added two tackles, including a sack, and had an interception.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. Eastern when it travels to Livingston, Ala. to take on West Alabama. The game will be broadcast live as part of the GSC TV Game of the Week package.