No. 8 West Georgia Snaps Florida Tech’s Winning Streak 30-21 in Gulf South Conference Contest
By Space Coast Daily // September 22, 2018
Close game for much of the afternoon
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Steve Wilson of the Friday Night Locker Room reports live from West Georgia as Florida Tech takes on the No. 8 Wolves at University Stadium.
CARROLLTON, GEORGIA – The eighth-ranked West Georgia Wolves defeated Florida Tech 30-21 at University Stadium on Saturday afternoon at University Stadium.
With a chance to make a statement on the road against No. 8 West Georgia (4-0, 1-0 GSC), Florida Tech (3-1, 1-1 GSC) was unable to answer the Wolves’ 13-0 run in the fourth quarter and the Panthers were handed a 30-21 defeat.
The Crimson & Gray controlled the matchup for the better part of three quarters, but UWG outscored Florida Tech, 23-7, after halftime to capture the momentum and then held on for its fourth win of the season.
West Georgia out-gained the Panthers, 374-332, including a 254-193 edge through the air. Florida Tech racked up 139 on the ground. The Wolves also picked up 174 return yards and a touchdown in the game.
Florida Tech made the most of its second offensive possession as the Panthers drove 83 yards down the field on 11 plays. Trent Chmelik capped off the series with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Romell Guerrier to give the Crimson & Gray a 7-0 lead with 6:10 left in the first quarter.
The Wolves tied the game at 7-7 a few minutes later on a 33-yard pass from UWG’s Willie Candler to Malik Henry.
Chmelik connected again with Guerrier later in the second quarter for an 11-yard touchdown strike to close out a 6-play, 36-yard drive and put Florida Tech up 14-7 with 5:43 left before halftime. The touchdown reception was Guerrier’s fourth of the season.
UWG’s LaPerion Perry quickly tied the game at 14-14 just seconds into the second half, as he returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 96 yards for the special teams score.
The Panthers grabbed the lead right back on their next possession. Florida Tech put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown strike from Chmelik to Terrance Bynum, and moved ahead of UWG, 21-14, with 9:48 remaining in the third quarter.
A few drives later, the Wolves were set up with great field position, on the Panthers’ 11-yard line, following a 35-yard return by Henry on a Kyle Gullikson punt. However, the Florida Tech defense came up with a big stand and limited UWG to a three-and-out and an Omar Cervantes 21-yard field goal, which he made to cut the Wolves deficit to 21-17 entering the fourth quarter.
A touchdown pass from Candler to Henry, his second of the game, gave West Georgia its first lead of the game, 24-21, with 13:54 to go in the game.
The Wolves pushed their lead to 30-21 with just under two minutes left as Candler threw his third touchdown of the game, this time to Emoni Williams, on a four-yard shovel pass.
Not giving up, the Panthers drove down the field on their next possession looking to bring the game to a single score. Florida Tech made their way to the UWG 12-yard line following a great pass and catch from Chmelik to Damien McGhee for 16 yards. However, the Wolves sealed their win on the very next play as Chmelik was picked off by Ashton Jackson in the end zone with 23 seconds remaining.
With the defeat, the Panthers drop to 2-4 in their series with West Georgia.
Chmelik completed 17-of-31 for 191 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The junior quarterback also picked up 25 yards on the ground. Guerrier was his quarterback’s favorite weapon in the game, as the wideout caught a pair of touchdown passes and recorded four catches for 56 yards.
“I thought Romell really played well today,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “He took advantage of some of the opportunities he got from the West Georgia defense and made some big plays for us. I also think Bynum made several great catches as well, including the grab in the end zone.”
Terrance Bynum had two receptions for 56 yards and a score, while Damien McGhee and Simon Williams both caught three balls in the game.
Antwuan Haynes led all players with 65 rushing yards on 17 attempts, while also making two catches for 12 yards. Kiaryn Davis added 44 yards rushing on just four carries and registered 41 kick return yards.
J.T. Hassell notched his third straight double-digit tackle performance in the defeat, racking up 10 total tackles, including one tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, and one pass breakup. Richard Leveille made seven tackles and one tackle for loss.
Adonis Davis’ sack on Candler during the second quarter etched the senior’s name in the school record books. The sack gives Davis 18 total for his career and ties him with current record holder, and Panther great, J.J. Sanders. Davis finished with six tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against the Wolves.
Thierry Lafortune and DeVontae Weekley each posted three tackles and a sack against West Georgia, while Weekley also recovered a fumble in the contest.
Gullikson did his best to help Florida Tech in the field position battle as he averaged 42.0 yards per punt, including a long of 58 yards and two kicks inside the West Georgia 20 yard line.
Florida Tech will look to put this game behind it and move attention to its regional matchup with Wingate next weekend. The Bulldogs are 2-2 this season and are coming off a 31-24 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday.
Kickoff for Florida Tech and Wingate is set for 3 p.m. ET at Irwin Belk Stadium and John R. Martin Field. This will be the first-ever meeting between the teams. As a result of Wingate’s partnership with ESPN, the game will be live streamed on ESPN3 and the ESPN App.
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