VIDEO: Valdosta State Cruises By Florida Tech 51-21 at Panther Stadium

By  //  October 14, 2018

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ABOVE VIDEO: Head coach Steve Englehart addresses the media following 51-21 defeat to Valdosta State.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In a game that was significant for the GSC standings and potential postseason placement, Florida Tech (5-2, 2-2 GSC) was unable to hang with the high-powered offense of No. 8 Valdosta State (7-0, 5-0 GSC) and the Blazers ran away with a 51-21 victory at Panther Stadium.

“We struggled in the first half today against Valdosta,” said head coach Steve Englehart.

“Our defense couldn’t get off the field, we couldn’t convert on third down and our offense wasn’t able to get scores for us. It was frustrating to say the least.

“You know Valdosta is a good football team. They are a really good football team. But I just don’t think we played very well and didn’t execute well. We had several dropped passes that could have been touchdowns. You have to be able to score points and execute when you’re playing a team like this, and we just didn’t do that.”

In a game that was significant for the GSC standings and potential postseason placement, Florida Tech (5-2, 2-2 GSC) was unable to hang with the high-powered offense of No. 8 Valdosta State (7-0, 5-0 GSC) and the Blazers ran away with a 51-21 victory at Panther Stadium. (FIT Image)

Valdosta racked up just under 500 yards of total offense, outgaining the Panthers, 496-398, including a 282-108 edge in rushing yardage. Both teams scored defensive touchdowns in the game. For Florida Tech, this is the fourth time this season that the Panther defense has tallied a touchdown.

In its first possession of the game as the Blazers drove 75 yards down the field and scored on Jamar Thompkins’ one-yard touchdown run.

A 38-yard touchdown pass from Rogan Wells to Lio-undre Gallimore gave VSU a 14-0 edge with 2:58 left in the first quarter.

Kenny Benjamin made the differential 21 points on his three-yard touchdown reception with 9:36 to go in the second. Later in the quarter, VSU’s Andrew Gray knocked in a 20-yard field goal to hand his Blazers a 24-0 advantage with less than three minutes left before halftime.

Trent Chmelik’s 11-yard connection with Damien McGhee gave the Panther fans something to cheer about as Florida Tech cut its deficit to 24-7 with 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Panthers got onto the board again thanks to a defensive touchdown. After forcing the Blazers into a punting situation, the Blazers’ punter fumbled the snap and the ball bounced around between several defenders before Simon Williams scooped it up and ran it back 37 yards to trim the margin to 24-14.

“We were able to get it to a 10-point game right there,” stated Englehart. “At that point, I thought we would have some momentum coming our way. Every time we felt a little bit of momentum, though, they took it away or we weren’t able to sustain it.”

Consecutive rushing touchdowns by VSU over a 2:08 span helped the Blazers build their lead to 38-14 with little time left in the fourth.

With 3:38 remaining, Chmelik found Romell Guerrier on a deep slant for a 27-yard touchdown, in what turned out to be the final points of the game for the Panthers. It is the seventh time this season that the duo has combined for a passing touchdown.

The Blazers added two more scores over the final 2:06 of game time including an 88-yard fumble recovery off a Chmelik sack-fumble that was returned by VSU’s Aaron Dawson for a touchdown with no time remaining.

Chmelik completed 26-of-45 passes for 290 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The 290 passing yards are the most in a single game in Chmelik’s career. The junior also added 31 yards on the ground in the game.

Guerrier continues to be the main benefactor with Chmelik at quarterback, as the senior wideout made a game-high seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown. Damien McGhee also had a good game with six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.

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Antwuan Haynes finished with 45 yards on 10 rushing attempts with a long run of 26 yards. The senior running back is now only 169 yards from breaking the school’s all-time rushing mark of 3,280 yards.

J.T. Hassell led the Florida Tech defense with eight tackles, including five solo stops. Adonis Davis notched six tackles including two tackles for loss and one sack, while John McClure and Evan Thompson added five and four tackles in the loss, respectively. Tyrone Cromwell had three tackles and two pass breakups.

The Florida Tech football team is back in action next Saturday, Oct. 20, as the Panthers face off against rival, No. 10 West Florida in the third edition of the Coastal Classic Rivalry. This year’s matchup is set to kickoff at 5 p.m. ET at Blue Wahoo’s Stadium in Pensacola, Florida.

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