West Alabama Defense To Challenge Florida Tech At Panther Stadium
By Florida Tech // October 10, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Coming off of a monumental road victory at perennial Gulf South Conference power Delta State, Florida Tech will look to stave off a challenge from vengeance-seeking West Alabama Saturday night.
Kickoff at Florida Tech Panther Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
The game represents FIT’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game, with a pre-kickoff ceremony scheduled to honor survivors and those currently fighting the deadly disease. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game.
Additionally, Alex Brack Scholarship Foundation T-Shirts will be sold for $10 at the merchandise tent run by the Florida Tech softball team. All proceeds will be donated to the Scott Center for Autism Awareness.
Though the Panthers will be facing a team not ranked in the AFCA Coaches’ Poll for the first time in three weeks, don’t think for a second that FIT is taking their opponent lightly.
“West Alabama’s defense is really good,” said head coach Steve Englehart.
“They are really good up front, their defensive line is good. They do a lot of stuff on defense. You just don’t know how they are going to line up… offensively, they are very talented… they can spread you out and they run the option.”
The Tigers boast the conference’s second most stingy defense. UWA ranks second in the conference in both scoring defense (16.2 points per game) and total defense (260.0 yards per game). The Tigers’ strong suit is their rush defense, having allowed an astonishingly miniscule 54.6 yards per game on the ground.
However, UWA is susceptible to the air attack, ranking second to last in the GSC at 205.4 yards per game.
The UWA defense is spearheaded by Quentin Horton and his 40 total tackles, third most in the GSC. Jare Washington is tied for the conference lead in tackles for loss with seven, while Felix Woods’ 3.5 sacks ranks second. Chris Davis has racked up the most passes defended in the conference with nine, while his two interceptions puts him in a tie for third.
The Tigers have implemented a “quarterback by committee” approach in 2015, with three different players having attempted at least 25 passes.
Trent Thompson paces the staff with 441 yards and four scores on 37-of-73 attempts. Thompson has also thrown all four of the Tigers’ interceptions.
Quarterback Dezmon Huntley has been UWA’s biggest threat on the ground, racking up 224 yards and three touchdowns on 37 attempts. Tyler Rogers has tallied the teams’ most carries with 48.
Tyreek Hill leads the UWA receiving corps with 225 yards on 11 catches, two for touchdowns. Hill also handles the majority of the Tigers’ returns, having returned two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns.
As has been the case for virtually the entire history of the program, the Panthers will likely look to use a balanced attack against the stout Tiger defense. FIT has gained 1,367 yards through the air, while chipping in 862 yards rushing.
Despite running back Trevor Sand appearing to have gotten over the hump in his recovery from a wrist injury early in the year, Gary Holmes will also be an important cog in the Panther rushing attack and special teams. Holmes is coming off a game in which he registered the first kickoff return for a touchdown in program history, leading to a GSC Special Teams Player of the Week laurel.
Quarterback Mark Cato will attempt to bounce back from an up-and-down performance against the Statesmen that saw him toss four interceptions. On the year Cato has passed for 747 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing significant time due to injury.
The Panthers are hoping to see the same fire and intensity from the defensive unit that was on display against Delta State. FIT slowed the powerful Statesmen defense to well below their season average in passing yards, holding DSU to 210 yards through the air.
Andrew Adair spearheaded the effort with 13 total tackles, 10 of which were solo stops.
Live video and stats will be available at FloridaTechSports.com/live. 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.