West Alabama Defeats Florida Tech 45-3

By  //  September 20, 2013

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TECH TRAVELS TO DELTA STATE NEXT WEEK

ABOVE VIDEO: SpaceCoastDaily.com’s Ron Lighthall talks with Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart about the Panther’s game vs. West Alabama.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech football program was introduced to the Gulf South Conference (GSC), what many call the SEC of Division II NCAA football, when the West Alabama University Tigers swept into Palm Bay Stadium Thursday night and dominated the hometown Panthers 45-3 with a balanced offensive attack that amassed 637 total yards.

Jake Holsinger attempts to block a punt on Thursday. He finished with one deflection on a punt. (Amanda Stratford Photography image)

Jake Holsinger attempts to block a punt on Thursday. He finished with one deflection on a punt. (Amanda Stratford Photography image)

Florida Tech is the GSC’s first-ever associate new football member and the first official addition to the conference since former members Harding and Ouachita Baptist joined in 2000.

Expected to vie for the GSC title and coming off of a heart-breaking loss to McNeese State last week, the 16th-ranked and now 2-1 Tigers were loaded for bear and took no quarter on the conference newcomers in the nationally televised game.

The Tiger offense, led by junior quarterback Kyle Caldwell and running backs Javae Swindle and Kedrick Rhodes, scored on seven of their ten possessions before running out the clock at the end of the game.

Swindle, a 5’4”, 160 pound sophomore speedster, scored on the second play from scrimmage when he went off left tackle and veered to the outside, sprinting 76 yards untouched into the end zone.  He had over 150 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing in the first half, and, playing sparingly in the second half, finished with 170 yards on only 10 carries.

Tyler Rosenblatt intercepts a pass deflected by Manny Abad (right) Thursday night against West Alabama at Pirate Stadium. (Amanda Stratford Photography image)

Tyler Rosenblatt intercepts a pass deflected by Manny Abad (right) Thursday night against West Alabama at Pirate Stadium. (Amanda Stratford Photography image)

Caldwell’s deft ball handling and play action passes seemed to have the Panther defense back on its heels all night. The 5’7” play caller completed a very efficient 19 of 26 for 251 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior wide receiver Seth Roberts.

The Panther running game was held in check by a very physical and experienced WAU defense, consisting of 8 seniors and 3 juniors. FIT was able to move the ball at times, but could not penetrate the Tiger red zone.

The lone Panther score was set up by a Tyler Rosenblatt interception in the end zone and return to the Panther 34, followed by a spectacular pass and run, Sean Ashley to Xavier Milton, onto which was tacked a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty putting FIT deep down to the Tiger 12 yard line with no time left in the half. Because of the penalty the Panthers had one more play and opted to go for the 29-yard field goal, which Brion Ashley converted for the home team’s only points of the night.

Xavier Milton

Xavier Milton

The lone Panther score was set up by a Tyler Rosenblatt interception in the end zone and return to the Panther 34, followed by a spectacular pass and run, Sean Ashley to Xavier Milton, onto which was tacked a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty putting FIT deep down to the Tiger 12 yard line with no time left in the half. Because of the penalty the Panthers had one more play and opted to go for the 29-yard field goal, which Brion Ashley converted for the home team’s only points of the night.

Unfortunately, the vicious hit taken by QB Sean Ashley that prompted the roughing penalty put him out of the game, and Bobby Vega took over for him in the second half.

Brion Ashley

Brion Ashley

Despite the lop-sided score and WAU statistical dominance, Panther special teams continued to impress. Brion Ashley, the GSC Special Teams Player of the Week last week not only booted the field goal, but had a stellar night punting, dropping three of his seven kicks inside the 10 yard line and averaging 37.4 yards per kick with only 33 total return yards.

Redshirt freshman defensive back Jake Holsinger blocked a WAU punt early in the first quarter with Ramsey Sellers coming up with the recovery, and the kickoff-return team cleared the way for junior Davis Fluker to return 5 kicks for a total of 95 yards.

In a post-game interview with SpaceCoastDaily.com, Panther head coach Steve Englehart emphasized that, although a tough loss to a physically superior and more seasoned team, there are very valuable lessons to be learned from this experience. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

In a post-game interview with SpaceCoastDaily.com, Panther head coach Steve Englehart emphasized that, although a tough loss to a physically superior and more seasoned team, there are very valuable lessons to be learned from this experience. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

In a post-game interview with SpaceCoastDaily.com, Panther head coach Steve Englehart emphasized that, although a tough loss to a physically superior and more seasoned team, there are very valuable lessons to be learned from this experience.

“I told the team to look at Western Alabama walking off the field—that’s what we’re shooting for in the future,” he said.

“Patience and perseverance. As long as we’re plugging away and improving each week, we’ll get better and be there.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the 1-2 Panthers go on the road for the next three weeks with conference foes Delta State on September 28 and 2012 National Champion Valdosta State on October 5, and non-conference Ave Maria on October 12.  They’re back home on October 19 against Shorter.

FIT and Delta State will kick off at 7 p.m. ET next Saturday in Cleveland, Miss. Stay tuned to SpaceCoastDaily.com for your best coverage of Florida Tech Football.

AMONG THE GAME HIGHLIGHTS

• Kicker Brion Ashley nailed a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the first half for his fifth field goal of the season. The freshman has now scored in all three games Florida Tech has played. Ashley also punted well Thursday night, pinning the Tigers down inside their 20 three times.
• Jake Holsinger blocked a West Alabama punt.
• Tyler Rosenblatt intercepted a pass by West Alabama’s Gary Johnston in the end zone and returned it 32 yards. The pass was tipped by FIT’s Manny Abad.
• Return man Davis Fluker had a 32-yard kickoff return.
• Wide receiver Xavier Milton had four catches for 79 yards, including a 47-yard reception near the end of the first half to help set up the Panthers’ only score.
• Chris Stapleton had 11 tackles while Trai Cadore had eight and Justin Arcune had eight.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COMPLETE GAME BOXSCORE

SCORING SUMMARY

FIRST QUARTER

West Alabama 14, Florida Tech 0

• 14:33: West Alabama scores on a 76-yard run by  Javae Swindle with 14:33 left in the first.
• 3:00: West Alabama scores on a Kendrick Rhodes 11-yard run with 3:00 left in the first.

SECOND QUARTER

West Alabama 28, Florida Tech 3

• 07:30: West Alabama scores on a 16-yard pass to Seth Roberts

• 0:00: Brion Ashley 24-yard field goal

THIRD QUARTER

West Alabama 38, Florida Tech 3

• 12:36: West Alabama kicks a field goal to stretch their lead to 28. 

• 1:28: West Alabama scores a touchdown as #33 Grant easily runs into the end zone. 

FOURTH QUARTER

West Alabama 45, Florida Tech 3

• 14:33: West Alabama scores on a 8-yard run to extend the lead to 42.

HALFTIME REPORT: SpaceCoastDaily.com’s Dr. Jim Palermo recaps the first half action of Florida Tech vs. West Alabama

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ABOVE IMAGE: The SpaceCoastDaily.com crew includes Ron Lighthall, Dr. Jim Palermo and Matt O’Hern.

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ABOVE VIDEO: The Panthers take the field to take on West Alabama in their first ever Gulf Coast Conference game.

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ABOVE IMAGES: Florida Tech warms up before tonights game against West Alabama. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. tonight.

 

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ABOVE IMAGES: West Alabama warms up before tonights game against Florida Tech. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. tonight.

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ABOVE IMAGE: Let the games begin! Florida Tech arrives at Pirate Stadium in preparation for their first-ever Gulf South Conference game against West Alabama. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. tonight

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ABOVE VIDEO: Special thanks to SKY Advertising for cutting this awesome tribute to Florida Tech Football’s inaugural win on Sept. 7 over Stetson. Watch it and get pumped for the Panthers’ first televised game tonight on the CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m.

GAME NOTES

NCAA DIVISION II GAME OF THE WEEK
#16 West Alabama (1-1, 0-0) @ Florida Tech (1-1, 0-0), 8 p.m.
Location: Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium, Melbourne, Fla.
Series: 0-0-0 — Last Meeting: First meeting

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech will play 16th-ranked West Alabama in a nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network tonight at 8 p.m.

The game between the Panthers and Tigers is the Gulf South Conference opener for both schools and both are coming off close losses on the road last Saturday. FIT ventured to Newberry, S.C. for its first-ever road game. Led by Chris Stapleton’s 14 tackles, the defense forced four turnovers, including Trai Cadore’s 100-yard touchdown interception return. The run back was just the sixth 100-yard touchdown interception return in GSC history.  (Florida Tech image)

The game between the Panthers and Tigers tonight is the Gulf South Conference opener for both schools and both are coming off close losses on the road last Saturday. FIT ventured to Newberry, S.C. for its first-ever road game. Led by Chris Stapleton’s 14 tackles, the defense forced four turnovers, including Trai Cadore’s 100-yard touchdown interception return, above. The run-back was just the sixth 100-yard touchdown interception return in GSC history.
(Florida Tech image)

Fans attending the game are encouraged to wear white for the Panthers’ Whiteout Game. Commemorative whiteout t-shirts will be available to the first 1,000 fans when gates open at 6:30 p.m.

The game between the Panthers and Tigers is the Gulf South Conference opener for both schools and both are coming off close losses on the road last Saturday. FIT and UWA each seek to get back on the winning track after suffering road losses last week.

The Panthers return home for the second time this season after claiming their inaugural football contest two weeks ago against Division I-FCS Stetson, 20-13.  The Tigers hope to sooth the wounds left over after a near-upset at McNeese State last Saturday.

GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE

Tickets can be purchased online at FloridaTechSports.com, by dialing 321-674-6228, at the Clemente Center Ticket Office Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and at Pirate Stadium starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Single-game general admission tickets are available for Thursday’s game at just $10 for adults and $5 for FIT faculty and staff with school ID, seniors ages 65 and above, children ages 5-16 and active duty military with ID. Children under five years of age are free.

Tickets can be purchased online at FloridaTechSports.com, by dialing 321-674-6228, at the Clemente Center Ticket Office Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and at Pirate Stadium starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

CATCH THE GAME ON BRIGHTHOUSE CHANNELS 106 & 1137

Brent Stover

Brent Stover

CBS Sports Network’s Brent Stover will call the game and former NFL defensive back Corey Chavous will provide the analysis. Lisa Byington will be the sideline reporter.

Melbourne area Bright House Networks digital cable subscribers can watch the game on standard definition channel 106 and high definition channel 1137. Fans outside the area or non-Bright House Networks subscribers can utilize CBS Sports Network’s channel finder by clicking here.

You can also catch all the game updates, Live Stream and Live Stats right here on SpaceCoastDaily.com.


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