Florida Tech Spring Game Passes With Flying Colors

By  //  March 29, 2015

First Game on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. against Newberry

Levi Ledford’s 29-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Lowder gave the Florida Tech offense a 33-28 win over the defense in the Panthers’ annual Spring Game Saturday afternoon at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium. (Amanda Stratford image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Levi Ledford’s 29-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Lowder gave the Florida Tech offense a 33-28 win over the defense in the Panthers’ annual Spring Game Saturday afternoon at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium.

The pass, which was Ledford’s second toss resulting in a touchdown and third touchdown overall, was scored on the 81st play of the 85-play intrasquad scrimmage.

The redshirt freshman from Asheville, North Carolina engineered a five-play, 72-yard drive en route to the win for the offense. It included a 30-yard bullet to Collin O’Neal to set up his floater to Lowder.

Those two completions helped him finish 9-of-17 for a game-high 201 yards and one touchdown.

Steve Englehart
Steve Englehart

“It came down to the wire, with the last couple of plays, so that was exciting,” head coach Steve Englehart said.

“I thought the defense had some really good stops and some turnovers, and I thought the offense produced big plays and that is what we want the offense to do. It’s hard to drive the ball down the field methodically and have 13 or 14 or 15-play drives, you need big plays. We have been searching for those big plays ever since I got here and last year we had them during the course of the season.”

“I was worried about not having those types of plays with the departure of Xavier Milton, Aaron George and Tyler Bass, but we showed that we can do that again,” said Englehart.

Lowder, a mid-year transfer from Florida International, hauled in seven passes for 115 yards. Kenny Johnston also had a big game, nabbing two touchdown passes, including an 82-yard pass from Ledford for the first score of the game on the 22nd play.

He finished with 113 yards receiving.

Jaaron Barrett
Jaaron Barrett

Jaaron Barrett, who redshirted for the Panthers last fall, had four catches for 69 yards. His final catch was a Hail Mary pass on the 85th play that went for 46 yards before being knocked out of bounds by redshirt freshman defensive back Yawn Coleman.

“(Kenny) was a wide receiver and we have turned him into a tight end,” Englehart said.

“He still has to eat a little bit more and get bigger. He is such an athletic tight end that can get down field and he is running on linebackers and safeties. It is a pretty good matchup and you have Gabe Hughes, another tight end who can do that. He didn’t have a huge day today, but we know what he is capable of. When you have two tight ends that can do that, I think it puts the defense in a heck of a predicament.”

“Then you have T.J. Lowder, Terrance Bynum and Jaaron Barrett having good days on the outside.”

The Panthers played well defensively, limiting the offense’s rushing attack to a mere 54 yards on 30 carries. They also held the offense to 6-of-19 on third downs.

Mid-year graduate student transfer Demetrius Allen had a game-high six tackles with four being recorded behind the line of scrimmage. He also had one of the game’s two sacks with the other being registered by Billy Sturgis.

“He was around the ball a lot,” Englehart said of Allen.

“He has been a good addition and a leader. He is a good young man. We are excited about him as well as our defensive line. I think our line has played really well. We just gave up the big plays on defense and that is what we have to stop.”

“We gave up fourth down and 10 twice and we can’t do that. That is what we have to get fixed on defense, just not give up those big plays, but it is a double edged sword because I want to see that from our offense.”

Keith Lovett II
Keith Lovett II

The quarterbacks threw two picks in the game. Keith Lovett II intercepted a pass thrown by mid-year freshman transfer Landon Galloway when the defense held a 28-7 lead.

Andrew Adair corralled the game’s other interception on a Ledford pass during the offense’s third drive.

Galloway, Ledford and returner Sean Ashley combined to go 29-of-52 for 456 passing yards.

“I think all three of those guys played pretty well,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be scared to put them in the game. They have to get better. The good thing is that Levi Ledford and Landon haven’t played many downs in our system yet, and Levi didn’t get any reps in the fall. He was a redshirt on the scout team and this was the first time he got reps.”

“It was also the first time Landon got reps. In that short amount of time they were able to get a handle on it pretty well, but they have a long way to go. I also thought Sean Ashley looked good, cool and calm.”

With the spring season over, the Panthers will now focus on improving over the summer months with their 11-game 2015 schedule set to open at home on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. against Newberry.

“I think we have some really good freshmen,” Englehart said.

“We will decide pretty quickly if we will redshirt them. We will add Blake Stone on the offensive line and have Matt Garcia, Colton Odom and (Joe) Laguna return as well. With adding the receiver, Robbie Anderson, I definitely like where we are headed and am excited for August to get here and start getting ready for the season.”

Season ticket holders from the 2014 season can renew for the 2015 campaign online, in person at the Clemente Center Ticket Office and by dialing 321-674-6228.

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Season ticket orders are also being accepted now as well, in person and over the phone.

The season ticket prices are $70 for premium reserved seating and $50 for general admission seating for all five home games.

Discounts are offered for FIT employees with ID, children ages 5-16 and seniors ages 65 and above.

For more information, please call the ticket office or e-mail athleticstickets@fit.edu.