Florida Tech (1-4) had no answer for No.1 Valdosta State (4-0) Saturday afternoon at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
|VSU running back Cedric O’Neal dodges defenders during Saturday’s matchup. O’Neal finished with 97 yards and a touchdown.|
The Gulf South Conference associate members couldn’t spoil Homecoming Night losing 52-14 in their first-ever meeting against the defending national champions.
As expected, the Blazers quickly got on the scoreboard less than two minutes after kick-off following a Willie Downs 62-yard punt return touchdown.
VSU regained possession when the Black Swarm forced the Panthers to one of many three and outs on their ensuing drive.
The next drive took six plays before kicker Anthony Pistelli capped it off with a 42-yard field goal.
Despite the 10-0 lead, quarterback Cayden Cochran failed to get in a comfortable rhythm early on.
Cochran was sacked four times and repeatedly under pressure in the first quarter (FIT came into Saturday’s game with two sacks total this season).
“I think our offense lost a little focus and that’s really disappointing,” head coach David Dean said. “On the flip side, I’m proud the way they came out in the second half, staying consistent on second/third and longs by doing that we were able to move the ball.”
Miscommunication between Cochran and his receiving core fueled the early frustration.
The Blazers’ defense made up for the offensive hiccups scoring two of VSU’s three touchdowns in the first half.
Defensive end Tevin Davis recorded the first defensive touchdown when he returned a 56-yard fumble recovery early in the second quarter.
FIT managed to keep VSU’s offensive effectiveness to a minimum in the first half. Receivers Downs and Seantavious Jones were held catchless.
The Panthers tallied five sacks and roughly eight hits before halftime holding the Blazers’ to a low eight rushing yards.
VSU led 17-0 at halftime. The Blazers’ only had 71 total yards at intermission (averaged 216 yards in the first half going into Saturday’s matchup).
After a few adjustments, FIT couldn’t contain the Blazers in the second half.
VSU accounted for 278 total offensive in the third quarter including running back Austin Scott’s 16-yard touchdown run five minutes after intermission.
Scott recorded 105 of the Blazers’ 214 rushing yards in the third quarter.
Five minutes later, Cedric O’Neal broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run which gave VSU a 31-0 lead.
The Panthers finally responded when FIT backup quarterback Dan Masteller found receiver Aaron George for a 13-yard touchdown pass (VSU first touchdown allowed in prior 169 minutes).
The end of the third quarter was highlighted by Scott finding the end zone yet again for a 72-yard run (longest of his career) and linebacker Jeremy Grable return a 27-yard interception touchdown.
Freshman third string Blazer running back Nick Davis earned his first touchdown of his career in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers would score one more touchdown before the final buzzard in the final minutes.
VSU hits the road on Wednesday before facing defending GSC champs West Alabama on Oct. 10. “We have to cram six days into three. We have a tremendous amount of work to do as coaches, and the players will have a quick recovery time before the next game,” Dean said.Notes:Xavier Milton was held to just three catches for 26 yards. Attendance 7,612.This article was written by Eric Jackson.