Florida Tech Quarterback Mark Cato Repeats as Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Week
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Sports // October 24, 2017
TECH SET TO FACE RIVAL VALDOSTA STATE
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlights and interviews following Florida Tech’s 41-39 win over No.18 West Alabama on Saturday.
ABOVE VIDEO: Panther QB Mark Cato speaks with Alan Zlotrzynski of Space Coast Daily following Florida Tech’s 41-39 win over No.18 West Alabama on Saturday.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA — After leading Florida Tech to an upset victory over No. 18 West Alabama on Saturday, quarterback Mark Cato has been named the Gulf South Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. This is the second consecutive week that Cato has won the award, and the third time he has been honored in his career.
The redshirt senior completed 22-of-40 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing for one touchdown, as the Panthers defeated the Tigers, 41-39. Cato helped FIT come back from an early 14-0 deficit against UWA and then scored the game-winning touchdown with 51 seconds remaining.
It was Florida Tech’s first victory over a ranked opponent this season. The Gainesville, Florida product has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,371 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
He ranks fourth in the GSC in passing yards per game (195.9) and third in passing efficiency (135.4). Cato is also fourth in the league in total offense at 204.1 yards per game.
During the past two weeks Cato has been one of the major reasons the Panthers snapped a two-game losing streak and have now won two in a row. Cato has passed for 670 yards and he’s accounted for eight Panther touchdowns in a road win over North Greenville and the home victory over No.18 West Alabama.
Battling an injury to his non-throwing shoulder since Week 3 of the season, Cato took off from the 12-yard line and dove into the end zone falling on the shoulder and the ball after scoring the game winner on Saturday.
Slow to get up Cato finished the game.
“Cato running it in to get the go ahead score, obviously his shoulder is not feeling good and he just keeps on battling,” said Panthers head coach Steve Englehart following Saturday’s win. “I’m really proud of that kid for everything he’s went through and how he’s battled and how he’s doing everything he can to be the best football player he can be and be the best person he can be and I’m proud of him for that.”
FLORIDA TECH FACES RIVALS:
ABOVE VIDEO: During the coin toss last season at Florida Tech Panthers Stadium, Valdosta State refused to shake the hands of the Panther captains. Florida Tech won 38-20. The two teams meet again on Saturday at in Georgia.
With the win the Panthers kept their playoff hopes alive but the schedule is not on Florida Tech’s side to finish the season.
The win over West Alabama began a stretch of four games against the top four teams in the GSC. Cato and the football team are back in action on Saturday, Oct. 28, squaring off against Valdosta State on the road.
Valdosta and Florida Tech have become GSC rivals in every sense of the word.
Two years ago, at Valdosta, the Blazers kept FIT from making the playoffs and winning their first GSC Title with a 39-21 win. Last year in Melbourne the Blazers refused to shake hands with the Panthers during the coin toss and the Panthers made them pay beating them convincingly for the first time in program history.
The explosive FIT offense out gained their counterparts from southern Georgia by a 505-249 margin and beat them 38-20, The Blazers are led by former Florida Gators quarterback, Kerwin Bell.
In his four years as a Gator, Bell constructed a career that consisted of an SEC Freshman of the Year honor in 1984 after leading the Gators to a 9-1-1 record. He accumulated 7,586 career passing yards and 56 touchdowns in his time at Florida, which ultimately landed him in the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
Space Coast Daily will once again be on hand with the Panthers as they travel for yet another critical GSC matchup.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in Valdosta, Georgia.
The Space Coast Daily Florida Tech Panther Kickoff Show will be at 6 p.m. Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski, Steve Wilson and Orville Susong of The Friday Night Locker Room will preview the big game and recap Friday night in Brevard County High School football.
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