Florida Tech Has Bright Spots Despite Loss To Delta State
By Ryan Jones // September 29, 2013
'good things to take away from this game'
ABOVE VIDEO: “We have a resilient team,” Coach Steve Englehart said. “This team doesn’t believe that any time they step on the field they can’t win. They’re going to believe it until the clock hits zero. That’s the way they are, and they’ve been like that. With maturity, they’ll get even better at that. I’m proud of them.”
CLEVELAND, MISSISSIPPI – Playing its first Gulf South Conference road game, Florida Tech showed qualities of an experienced program despite losing 52-31 Saturday night at Delta State’s Parker Field at McCool Stadium.
The Panthers drop to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in GSC play with the loss, while the Statesmen improve to 3-1, 2-0 GSC.
“There are a lot of good things to take away from this game,” head coach Steve Englehart said.
“I’m not going to get down ever on these guys. They fight with tenacity and they fight with passion. We’re getting better. We executed better this week than in the past on offense. Defensively, we played a great offensive team. They put up big numbers against North Alabama and they have a very explosive offense.
“We’ll get there. We need to be in better position. If you get a couple more turnovers and a stop here and there, those opportunities give us a chance for the score to be closer. I’m proud of the way our offense came out and really improved this week.”
The Panthers faced their largest deficit, 31-10, with 10:18 remaining in the third quarter. They would cut Delta State’s lead to just a touchdown on an 11-yard touchdown catch by Xavier Milton and then a one-yard quarterback keeper by Dan Masteller.
Delta State, which came into the game ranked 19th in NCAA Division II in total offense, responded with a touchdown on three straight possessions. The last came with 8:10 remaining in the game. FIT responded with an 11-play, 63-yard drive capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Kaleb Leach for the game’s final score.
Led by Bobby Vega, FIT totaled 461 yards on a defense that entered the game ranked 15th in NCAA Division II as it had held opponents to an average of 279 yards per game.
In his first start, Vega finished 38-of-51 for 332 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Milton had 12 catches for 124 yards and one touchdown. Wayne Saunders had 11 catches for 72 yards. Trevor Sand ran for 109 yards on 16 carries.
“Bobby played really well,” Englehart said. “We opened up the offense a little bit and did some different things by throwing the ball quite a bit on bubble screens. That was because of the way the defense played us.”
Justin Arcune had a game-high 11 tackles. Tyler Rosenblatt and Steven Thomas had eight each.
“We have a resilient team,” Englehart said. “This team doesn’t believe that any time they step on the field they can’t win. They’re going to believe it until the clock hits zero. That’s the way they are, and they’ve been like that. With maturity, they’ll get even better at that. I’m proud of them.”
The Panthers will now prepare to play top-ranked Valdosta State in Valdosta, Ga. next Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m.