Florida Tech Upsets No. 18 West Alabama 41-39 After Mark Cato’s Game-Winning Touchdown Run
By Zach Clark // October 22, 2017
Panthers Improve to 5-3 on the 2017 Season
ABOVE VIDEO: QB Mark Cato after Florida Tech’s upset win over No. 18 West Alabama 41-39.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech Panthers (5-3, 3-2) shocked No. 18 West Alabama (6-2, 5-1) 41-39 Saturday afternoon at Florida Tech Panther Stadium in Melbourne.
The Panthers started out with a slow start after the Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead within the first ten-minutes of the game after a muffed punt return by Florida Tech set u UWA inside the Panthers 20-yard line. Tigers converted the turnover into a touchdown after a QB Harry Satterwhite connected with WR Qua Boyd on 10-yard touchdown pass.
Minutes later, the Tigers punched in a two-yard touchdown run by Tyler Rogers that capped a six-play, 75-yard drive, giving UWA an early 14-0 lead.
Florida Tech answered on the ensuing possession when senior QB Mark Cato released a dart to WR Jaaron Barret for a 34-yard touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 14-7 near the end of the second quarter.
Cato finished the day 22-40 through the air with 345 passing yards and three total touchdowns.
After a Tigers 24-yard goal made it 17-7 in the second quarter, Florida Tech’s RB Antwuan Haynes punched in two rushing touchdowns, (one-yard run, 11-yard run) to round out the end of the first half, giving FIT a 20-17 lead at half.
Florida Tech tacked on to that lead towards the end of the third-quarter when finished off a 10-play, 78-yard drive, when Cato found sophomore TE Kevin Purlett on four-yard touchdown pass to bring the Panthers lead to 27-17.
However, the Tigers of West Alabama didn’t go away quietly, when RB LaKenderic Thomas punched in a four-yard touchdown run and cutting the FIT lead to 27-24 early in the fourth quarter.
After a Florida Tech three-and-out on the next possession, the FIT defense stepped up and made a big play when sophomore LB Patrick Banks scooped up a UWA fumble and returned it 30-yards for a touchdown. Extending Florida Tech’s lead back to ten, 34-24.
The Tigers fought back in the fourth quarter and took the lead following a 23-yard touchdown pass by Satterwhite to WR Tra Fletcher and a pair of Colin Douglas field goals to give the Tigers a 37-34 lead with 1:53 to go in the game.
Enter in, fifth-year senior QB Mark Cato, the Gainesville native marched the Panthers down the field for 78-yards and finished the drive with a spectacular 11-yard run, giving Florida Tech a 41-37 lead with 51-seconds left in the game.
A Florida Tech interception by Joe Jackson in the remaining seconds helped ice the game away that included a UWA safety as time expired for a final score of 41-39.
Florida Tech looks to extend their win streak next week on the road when they visit GSC rival Valdosta State (3-3, 3-2) next week. The Panthers return home Nov. 4 for Senior Day against West Georgia.
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