Florida Tech To Host Warner At Panther Stadium In Conference Play Saturday
By Florida Tech // September 19, 2015
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BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Following a pair of deflating defeats to open the season Florida Tech (0-2, 0-0 GSC) desperately wants to right the ship before the start of Gulf South Conference play.
The Panthers look to do so Saturday night, welcoming the Royals of Warner to Florida Tech Panther Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. The game represents Florida Tech’s Military Appreciation Day.
Both squads are in their third season of football competition. Florida Tech is 11-14 over the course of its first three seasons, while the Royals have posted an 8-16 record.
Panther head coach Steve Englehart and the Panthers know that no win comes easily and will not overlook the Royals despite their NAIA affiliation.
The game will be the second all-time meeting between the two programs, with FIT holding a 1-0 advantage after besting Warner 37-3 in Melbourne in 2013.
The Panthers out-gained the Royals 262-130 in the contest, with the FIT defense holding Warner to an astonishing negative 11 rushing yards. About the only blemish in the box score for the Panthers was in the penalty department as FIT racked up 132 yards on 13 penalties.
“I think Warner has some really good skill positions that can hurt you,” said Englehart.
“If you let them get the ball out in space I think they will hurt you. They have good defensive backs that will be able to cover. We are going to have to block them and run the ball well. They have two wins under their belt, sitting at 2-1. This is their big game of the year, their step up game. They want to come in here and prove themselves. It is definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
Bobby Vega led the passing attack for the Crimson and Gray, completing 14-of-22 passes for 121 yards, while Sean Ashley made the most of fairly few snaps under center, rushing for three touchdowns.
J.J. Sanders had a field day for the defensive unit, tallying 11 tackles and a pass breakup. Fellow linebacker Chris Stapleton was also a force to be reckoned with.
The Navarre, Florida native chipped in eight tackles, including one from behind the line of scrimmage.
Warner quarterback Keithlin Patrick connected on 26-of-38 passes for 141 yards but was also sacked five times. The Royal defense proved to be balanced, with no player accumulating more than five tackles.
The 2015 edition of the Panther offense has been fueled by the passing attack through the season’s first two games. Ashley has put up solid numbers in relief of the injured Mark Cato, having registered 620 yards and a trio of scores through the air.
T.J. Lowder is FIT’s leading receiver after matching the program record of 14 receptions in last week’s game against Southeastern Louisiana.
Lowder turned those 14 grabs in 152 yards, bringing his season total to 174 yards. Tight end Kenny Johnston is off to a hot start, leading the team with four touchdown receptions.
On the defensive side, Stapleton has been the lead man with 18 total tackles, including a pair for a loss. Safety Trai Cadore is also a player to watch, starting off the season with 13 tackles, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
As expected, Sanders has blown up opposing offenses with three tackles for loss, including two sacks, a pair of quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
For the Royals, quarterback DJ Davis leads an offense that is averaging 332.7 yards of total offense.
Davis has tossed for 396 yards and three scores through Warner’s first three games. Bryant Benton leads the rushing attack with 143 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
Linebacker Loronza Smith spearheads the defense, leading the team with 24 tackles, while also hauling in an interception. Defensive back Patrick Moreland has snagged a team-high two interceptions.
Fans can listen to Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott call the game on WFIT 89.5 FM. The radio broadcast can also be heard on WFIT.org and through the free TuneIn Radio app.
Live video and stats will also be available and can be accessed at FloridaTechsports.com/live
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