Florida Tech Panthers Defense Records Seven Sacks, Dominates West Georgia In 45-21 Road Win
By Mitch Praxl, Assistant Athletic Communications Director // November 5, 2016
With a win in home finale, FIT likely playoff bound
CARROLLTON, GEORGIA – Florida Tech turned it on in the second half of Saturday’s road matchup with West Georgia, outscoring the Wolves 24-7 to pick up a key Gulf South Conference win by a 45-21 margin.
“The first half was just a battle back and forth,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “We had some missed opportunities sometimes trying to do too much… to go in at the half up 21-14 was unbelievable.
The defense was the straw that stirred the drink for much of the game, turning the Wolves over four times and sacking UWG signal caller Willie Candler seven times by seven different players.
Chris Stapleton spearheaded the effort with 13 tackles and a sack. Overall the defense allowed just 272 yards of total offense, the fifth time in 2016 holding an opposing team to under 300 total yards.
“The defense played outstanding once again,” continued Englehart. “They’re just playing at a really high level right now and playing together.”
Trevor Sand and Antwuan Haynes led a balanced rushing attack with 64 and 61 yards, respectively. Mark Cato added 53 rushing yards to his 124 yards through the air on 11-of-19 passing.
Haynes led all players with 48 yard receiving on four catches, while Kenny Johnston grabbed three passes for 33 yards.
After a fumbled exchange by FIT set up a Wolves touchdown, the Panther defense picked up the slack to tie the game. Breaking hard on a short route, Manny Abad stepped in front of his man for an interception and saw nothing but green grass in front of him, returning 26 yards for a pick six.
The Wolves scored another turnover-aided touchdown early in the second quarter, with Lemarcus Franks housing a 14-yard rush after a Gabe Freeman interception.
The Panthers, though, responded. FIT mounted a 9-play drive that was capped by a Trevor Sand3-yard scoring plunge. FIT grabbed the lead right before the half when Cato scrambled up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown romp.
Florida Tech was set up with tremendous field position midway through the third quarter when Jake Holsinger strip-sacked Candler and Tevin Kirkland returned a few yards to the 10. However, the Panthers would settle for a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead.
Just under two minutes later, Haynes gave the Panthers a commanding lead with a 22-yard touchdown dash. The Wolves were able to whittle that lead down to 10 as the third expired, with Candler connecting with Qa Walker for a 12 yard scoring toss.
The UWG momentum, however, wouldn’t last long. Gary Holmes’ 11-yard touchdown rush put the lead right back at 17 points and Trevor Sand put the icing on the cake, galloping up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown with just over a minute to go.
The Panthers conclude the regular season next Saturday, taking on Delta State at 2 p.m. ET on Senior Day at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.
The contest is FIT’s annual White Out game, with the first 1,000 fan receiving a free white T-shirt. Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott will have the call on 89.5 FM WFIT and WFIT.org.
CLICK HERE to read what UWG is saying about Florida Tech’s performance.
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