Florida Tech Falls to McNeese State 42-21, Cato Throws For 333 Yards, Two Scores

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NCAA Division I McNeese State Cowboys

Mark Cato, left, completed 21-of-37 passing for 333 yards, two touchdowns and just one pick. Antwuan Haynes, right, ran for 36 yards and one touchdown on seven carries, while also catching five passes for 68 yards and a receiving touchdown.

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA – Florida Tech (1-1) played hard from the first play to the final whistle against McNeese State (1-1) on Saturday.

After falling behind early, FIT made it a one-score game in the second half, but eventually the Panthers ran out of steam and were defeated 42-21 on the road at Cowboys Stadium.

Mark Cato completed 21-of-37 passing for 333 yards, two touchdowns and just one pick.

Antwuan Haynes ran for 36 yards and one touchdown on seven carries, while also catching five passes for 68 yards and a receiving touchdown.

Romell Guerrier grabbed five passes for 65 yards and a score and Kevin Purlett finished with a game-high 89 receiving yards on two catches.

Demetrius Frazier had 119 all-purpose yards, including 74 return yards and 45 receiving yards on four catches.

On defense, J.T. Hassell led the way with nine tackles, while Jimmy Hinel and Adonis Davis recorded seven tackles apiece and combined for three sacks.

Marquise Lewis registered six tackles and one sack.

Florida Tech was slow out of the gate and MSU took advantage, scoring 21-straight points capped by a seven-yard pass and catch from James Tabary to Justin Pratt with 3:31 left before halftime.

FIT finally got onto the board with just over a minute left in the second quarter.

The Panthers drove 69 yards on nine plays and Haynes punched it in on an 11-yard reception from Cato.

The Panthers scored again early in the second half on a 20-yard pass from Cato to Guerrier, who leapt over his defender and ripped the ball out of the air to cut FIT’s deficit to one score, 21-14.

After forcing the Cowboys into a punt midway into the third quarter, the Panthers had a chance at tying the ball game.

However, Frazier muffed the return and it was recovered by MSU’s Cyron Sutton at the FIT two-yard line. Two plays later, Pratt ran the ball in from four yards out to increase McNeese State’s lead to 28-14.

On the ensuing possession, FIT drove 75 yards down the field on six plays and closed the drive with a 19-yard rushing touchdown by Haynes, which cut the Panthers’ deficit to 28-21 with 2:09 left in the third quarter.

The Cowboys responded with a 12-play 74-yard touchdown drive, capped by a David Hamm six-yard rushing touchdown at the 10:00 mark of the fourth quarter.

A 69-yard touchdown run by Benjamin Jones with just over a minute remaining gave MSU a 21-point edge and ended the Panthers’ chances in the game.

Florida Tech opens Gulf South Conference play next Saturday, Sept. 16, hosting Shorter at 7 p.m. ET at Florida Tech Panther Stadium. The game is the Panthers’ annual White Out Game. Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott will have the call on 89.5 FM WFIT and WFIT.org

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