VIDEO: Florida Tech Takes Down No. 14 Valdosta State At Panther Stadium Saturday Night
By Florida Tech // October 30, 2016
Florida Tech moves to 6-2 on the year
ABOVE VIDEO: Head Coach Steve Englehart following the win over Valdosta State.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech’s defense held No. 14 Valdosta State in check all game, while sophomore running back Antwuan Haynes piled up just under 200 rushing yards as the Panthers took down the Blazers 38-20 Saturday night at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.
The explosive FIT offense out gained their counterparts from southern Georgia by a 505-249 margin, taking a 276-94 advantage into the half. The Panthers ran rampant on the Blazers, galloping for 345 yards on the ground.
Despite his small stature at 5-7 and 146 lbs, Haynes put the team on his back, rushing 28 times for 197 yards and a touchdown. The performance by the Fort Lauderdale native and the guys up front blocking for him did not go unnoticed by their head coach.
“Golly, I just saw Antwuan running all over the place, breaking tackles and running through holes that the offensive line made and then he was making some of his own sometimes,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “It was a big performance by him and we got the running game going.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Safety Tyler Rosenblatt had two key interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter.
Mark Cato was erratic in the passing game, completing just 5 of 20 passes for 154 yards, mostly to Wayne Saunders II, who grabbed a pair of passes for 106 yards.
The Panther defense flexed its muscle in the game, sacking VSU quarterbacks Roland Rivers and Adam Robles three times and registering five tackles for loss. Jake Holsinger and Chris Stapleton tied for the team lead with six total tackles, while Skylar Sheffield posted two sacks from his nose tackles position. Tyler Rosenblatt picked off a pair of passes, becoming just the second player in school history with multiple interceptions in a game, matched by Jo Jackson earlier in the season at Presbyterian.
Gary Holmes provided an early spark to the offense on the game’s opening drive, breaking outside for a 50-yard run to set the Panthers up at the three-yard line. Cato finished off the drive the next play, finding pay dirt on a keeper.
Kyle Gullikson added a 23-yard field goal midway through the first as the Panthers finished off the opening quarter ahead 10-0.
ABOVE VIDEO: Wide Receiver Wayne Saunders III following his team’s big win over Valdosta State.
With the VSU offense stymied to that point, the Blazer defense took matters into its own hands. Cato was hit while attempting to deliver a pass, fluttering the ball upwards and into the hands of Egim Etta-Tawo, who brought it all the way back for a 45-yard pick six.
FIT reclaimed momentum at the end of the half, taking 11 plays to go 62 yards, all on the ground, for a touchdown right before the intermission. Haynes capped the drive, dashing into the end zone from four yards out.
An Andrew Gray 36-yard field goal put the only points of the third quarter on the board, cutting the deficit for Valdosta State to a single score at 17-10.
The first play of the fourth quarter tied the game when the snap went over the head of Cato and into the end zone, recovered by VSU’s Jamar Simpkins.
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech Football defensive lineman and team captain Skylar Sheffield after the win over Valdosta State.
FIT didn’t allow the quick change of events to put them down, recapturing the lead with just over nine minutes to go on a Trevor Sand one-yard touchdown plunge.
Gray sliced the Panther lead down to 24-20 on the next drive, but just 44 seconds later Saunders got behind the Blazer secondary and streaked down the field for an 81-yard hookup with Cato.
The Panther quarterback put the icing on the cake with just 2:31 to play, rushing for six from eight yards away.
“We had our peaks and then we had a few valleys that gave them some points,” stated Englehart. “You hate that our offense gave up 14 points but the team stuck together. They never wavered.”
The Panthers will head north for the final road trip of the regular season, hitting Carrollton, Georgia for a meeting with West Georgia next Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott will have the call on 89.5 FM WFIT and WFIT.org.
ABOVE VIDEO: Valdosta State Blazers football defensive coordinator and former Cocoa High School graduate James Rowe III.