Forced Fumble Sparks Florida Tech Rally
By Carl Kotala // October 21, 2013
'I’m glad I missed that tackle'
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech celebrates their come from behind 28-24 victory over Shorter last Saturday.
MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Lyndon Edwards has never been so happy to miss a tackle.
The Florida Tech linebacker had a chance to stop Shorter University running back B.J. McCoy early in the fourth quarter Saturday, but what happened after McCoy got away ended up changing the whole complexion of the game.
Because waiting for McCoy was Florida Tech linebacker Justin Arcune.
“(The ball) was on his left hand and arm and I just kind of reached around,” Arcune said. “I just punched it from behind as I was wrapping (him) up.”
The forced fumble, which was recovered by safety Tyler Rosenblatt at the Panthers’ 15-yard line, not only led to a Florida Tech touchdown, it helped spark a dramatic 28-24 come-from-behind victory.
Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart called Rosenblatt’s fumble recovery the turning point in the game, especially since it came two plays after the Panthers were called for roughing the kicking, which gave the Hawks an automatic first down.
The Panthers would go on to rally from a 17-point deficit to get their first Gulf South Conference victory.
“I’m glad I missed that tackle,” Edwards grinned.
Florida Tech’s defense, which had struggled with Shorter’s triple option offense for the better part of three quarters Saturday, certainly came up big when it had to.
TOUGH TO DUPLICATE
All week long, Englehart had talked about how it was virtually impossible to duplicate what the Hawks would bring to the table and early on, that proved to be the case.
On Shorter’s first five possessions, the Hawks gained 270 yards, and held the ball for 26:24 while building a 24-7 lead.
“People underestimate how fast triple options really move on the field,” Arcune said. “It may not seem that fast from up there (in the stands), but it’s definitely a faster-paced offense and it takes about a quarter or two to catch your mind back up.”
Not only did Florida Tech’s players start to get a better feel for what Shorter was trying to do, the Panthers’ coaching staff made some adjustments as well, including going from a four-man defensive line to a five-man line that made it tougher for the Hawks to execute the dive play that had been so successful early on.
On Shorter’s final five possessions, the Hawks gained 98 yards and had the ball for 13:43.
“They just kept trusting what the coaches were telling them and finally we started getting those tackles, and we started getting those tackles-for-loss,” Englehart said. “It gave our offense energy to go score. We fed off each other. It was a great feeling.”
SANDERS LEADS PANTHERS WITH 15 TACKLES
Linebacker J.J. Sanders led Florida Tech with 15 tackles (including one sack), while Edwards had nine tackles and two sacks.
Arcune was credited with nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble that gave the Panthers the spark they were looking for as the offense would drive 85 yards for a touchdown and both sides of the ball began to feed off each other in the second half.
“We got a surge of energy because our offense also helped lift us up with that touchdown,” Arcune said. “If you follow a turnover up with a touchdown, that just turns everyone’s mind upside down. We thought, ‘We can do this thing.’ And we came back and we did.”
The fact that Florida Tech was able to overcome a 17-point fourth quarter deficit will only bode well for the Panthers’ future.
“I think it may mature us a lot,” Edwards said. “We had a lot of heart. We kept fighting, and we came together as one unit, not just offense or just defense – the whole team.”
PANTHERS HOST WARNER SATURDAY
The Panthers will have a shot at their third win of their inaugural season on Saturday when they host Warner University in their Homecoming Game. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium.
General admission tickets remain for Saturday’s game and the Panthers’ final three home games of the 2013 season. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for FIT faculty and staff with school ID, seniors ages 65 and above, children ages 5-16 and active duty military with ID. FIT students with ID and children under five years of age are free.
Tickets can be bought online at FloridaTechSports.com, by dialing 321-674-6228 and at the Clemente Center Ticket Office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.