PANTHERS BLOW OUT AVE MARIA IN HOME OPENER

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PANTHERS HEAD FOR Lone Star Football Festival

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart talks about his team’s decisive win over Ave Maria in the Panther’s 2014 home opener at Pirate Stadium.

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BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA – Florida Tech came into tonight’s contest seeking revenge from a devastating loss to Ave Maria a season ago. The Panthers did just that Saturday night at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium, exploding for six touchdowns against the Gyrenes to come away with a 42-6 win.

In addition to leading the Panthers in tackles, safety Trai Cadore also chipped in two takeaways and a touchdown. (Florida Tech image)

In addition to leading the Panthers in tackles, safety Trai Cadore also chipped in two takeaways and a touchdown. (Florida Tech image)

After each team parried back and forth with five consecutive punts, FIT gained great field position on a fumbled Ave Maria punt return at the Gyrene 16.

Four plays later the Panthers opened scoring as Kaleb Leach powered his way through multiple defenders for a five yard touchdown run with 5:52 remaining in the first quarter.

Following a turnover on downs from the Gyrenes on the next drive, FIT took just one play to widen the margin as Mark Cato connected with Aaron George deep for a 39 yard touchdown pass.

Ave Maria struggled to maintain possession in the first half, surrendering three Clayton Uecker interceptions on top of the fumbled punt return. Despite the large number of takeaways, however, the Panthers went into the half with just a 14-0 advantage.

Kenny Johnston

Kenny Johnston

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Gary Holmes

The second half opened much the same as the first half played out, with a Gyrene turnover.

On the opening kickoff of the second half, Kenny Johnston knocked the ball loose from the grasp of Ave Maria’s Dayshaun Womble and Mike Ferguson pounced on the loose ball at the Gyrene 28 yard line. One play later Gary Holmes found some space around the edge and bolted for a 28 yard touchdown.

Aaron George proved to be Mark Cato's favorite target in the game, hauling in three catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. (Florida Tech image)

Aaron George proved to be Mark Cato’s favorite target in the game, hauling in three catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. (Florida Tech image)

Cato found a wide open Wayne Saunders II from eight yards out on the next FIT drive, and on the very next play Trai Cadore, who recorded an interception earlier, scooped and scored on another Ave Maria fumble to continue the onslaught.

With just under four minutes played in the half, what was once a somewhat tenuous 14 point lead at the break had blossomed into a commanding 35-0 stronghold.

The Gyrenes got on the board with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter as Uecker connected with Thomas Zimmer for a 14 yard touchdown pass, but Ave Maria would have to settle for six as Brandon Leon’s PAT attempted hit the right upright.

The Panthers came right back, though, as Cato lofted an arching pass to a streaking George, who took it the rest of the way for a 57 yard score to give FIT the 42-6 lead that they would finish the game with.

Mark Cato

Mark Cato

Following up on his head turning debut at Stetson, Cato again looked strong.

The redshirt freshman compiled 179 yards and three touchdowns on 10 of 23 passing. Most of those yards came on passes to George, who tallied 108 yards and two scores on three receptions. Holmes led the Panther backs, gaining 54 yards and a trip for six on only six rushes.

ABOVE VIDEO: Aaron George talks with SpaceCoastDaily.com after the Panther’s victory over Ave Maria. George caught three passes for 108 yards and two Florida Tech scores.

For the second week in a row FIT held its opponent to less than 300 yards of total offense. The Panther defense did a tremendous job in the turnover battle, picking off Uecker three times and recovering four Ave Maria fumbles. Cadore was all over the field for FIT, leading the team with nine tackles in addition to his two takeaways and a touchdown.

The Panthers will now travel to Arlington, Texas to take on the #16 Tarleton State Texans as part of the 2014 Lone Star Football Festival at awe-inducing AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Saturday at 5 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. EDT.

The Panthers will now travel to Arlington, Texas to take on the #16 Tarleton State Texans as part of the 2014 Lone Star Football Festival at awe-inducing AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Saturday at 5 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. EDT.

The Panthers will now travel to Arlington, Texas to take on the #16 Tarleton State Texans as part of the 2014 Lone Star Football Festival at awe-inducing AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Saturday at 5 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. EDT.

Season and individual game tickets remain for FIT’s four remaining home games. Tickets are available by calling 321-674-6228 or stopping by the Clemente Center Ticket Office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

A live radio broadcast of Saturday’s game will be available on the new Official Radio Partner of the Panthers, WFIT 89.5 FM, with Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott calling the game.

The feed will also be available by clicking on the ‘Listen Live’ button in the top left hand corner at WFIT.org and through the free TuneIn Radio app. Additional live coverage, if available, will be accessible through FloridaTechSports.com.

SIGHTS & SOUNDS FROM THE PANTHER’S SEASON OPENER

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Florida Tech head Coach Steve Englehart leads his team on to the field to take on Ave Maria at Pirate Stadium to open the 2014 season. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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The stands were packed with enthusiastic Panther fans as they opened their 2014 home season at Pirate Stadium. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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Panther QB Mark Cato hit on 10 of 23 passing for 179 yards and three TDs. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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A tough Panther defense held Ave Maria to just 118 yards on the ground. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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Trai Cadore had this pick and made nine tackles on defense, as well as returning a punt and completing a pass. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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A tough Panther defense held Ave Maria to just 118 yards on the ground. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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Trai Cadore celebrates with his family and friends after the Panthers dispatched Ave Maria 42-6 on Saturday night at Pirate Stadium. Cadore had a busy night for Florida Tech as he had one pick and made nine tackles on defense. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

Florida Tech opened their 2014 home schedule against Ave Marie on a beautiful evening at Pirate Stadium in Palm Bay.

Florida Tech opened their 2014 home schedule against Ave Marie on a beautiful evening at Pirate Stadium in Palm Bay.

ABOVE VIDEO: The Panthers score their first touchdown of the evening.

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech’s Trai Cadore blocks a punt in the second quarter of Florida Tech season opener against Ave Maria.

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Enthusiasm is high at Pirate Stadium for Florida Tech’s 2014 home opener against Ave Maria. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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Fans arrive at Pirate Stadium by trolly for the Florida Tech 2014 home opener against Ave Maria. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

Florida Tech supporters, left to right, include Dr. Dave Badolato, Elizabeth Badolato and Dr. Steve Badolato. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

Florida Tech supporters, left to right, include Dr. Dave Badolato, Elizabeth Badolato and Dr. Steve Badolato. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

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The Holsinger family arrive at Pirate Stadium ready for the Florida Tech’s first home game of 2014 as they face the Ave Maria Gyrenes. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)


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