West Georgia Pick-Six In Final Minute Spoils Florida Tech Panthers’ Senior Day
By Florida Tech // November 5, 2017
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Florida Tech football nearly picked up another home victory over a ranked Gulf South Conference opponent on Saturday afternoon but kicking woes and a pick-six with 24 seconds remaining sunk the Panthers as they fell to No. 25 West Georgia, 20-13, at the annual homecoming game at Panther Stadium.
With the loss, FIT drops to 5-5 overall and 3-4 in GSC action. The Wolves improve their record to 8-2 overall and 5-2 in league play.
It was a defensive slugfest in the first half as the teams combined for 153 total yards. The Panthers ended the game with their lowest yardage output of the season with 172 on 108 yards passing and 64 rushing. UWG, on the other hand, turned it up in the second half and finished with 371 yards of offense.
The Panthers’ kicking game struggled in the loss and was the difference in the game, leaving seven points on the field. FIT missed two field goals and an extra point against the Wolves.
Mark Cato completed 12-of-33 for 108 yards, two touchdowns and one costly interception in the final home game of his career. He added 16 yards on five rushes.
Antwuan Haynes led FIT on the ground with 32 yards on 15 carries. The junior also had the most receiving yards for FIT with 32 on one reception. Demetrius Frazier caught a team-high four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown and Brian Spurgeon, Jr. added 19 yards and a score on two receptions.
Florida Tech’s defense played one of its best games of the season holding the top producing offense, and second-best scoring offense, in the GSC to just 77 yards and no points in the first half. The Panthers also finished with a season-high six sacks in the game. However, the unit wore down in the second half as the Wolves controlled the ball for over 20 minutes in the third and fourth quarters, combined.
Evan Thompson led FIT with 11 total tackles, including one tackle for loss. J.T. Hassell added 10 tackles with one sack. Jo Jackson racked up 8.5 tackles and two pass breakups, while Yawn Coleman, Jr. notched eight tackles, two pass breakups and an interception, which he returned 54 yards to inside UWG territory.
Adonis Davis and Darius Goodman each recorded 4.5 tackles, apiece, and notched 1.0 and 2.5 sacks in the game, respectively. Thierry Lafortune tallied one sack, while Jimmy HInel added 0.5 sacks.
Florida Tech charged down the field on their first possession and Cato found Frazier for a nine yard touchdown reception just 1:49 into the contest. Zachary Leatherman missed the extra point and FIT led 6-0.
The Wolves finally got onto the board with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter as Trey Wiggins converted a 29 yard field goal attempt to make it 6-3.
FIT pushed the lead to 10 following a nine yard touchdown reception by Spurgeon at the 13:23 mark of the third.
A 22 yard rushing touchdown by UWG quarterback Willie Candler brought the Wolves within three, 13-10, with 11:47 remaining in the contest.
Late in the game, UWG drove down the field on eight plays and tied it up 13-13 on a 23 yard field goal by Trey Wiggins with just 48 seconds left on the clock.
With the Panthers trying to regain the lead late in the game, Cato’s pass was picked off by Wolves cornerback Jackyron Young and returned 42 yards for the touchdown with 24 seconds to go.
FIT’s last ditch effort to tie the game in the waning seconds was unsuccessful and the Panthers went on to lose their second home game of the season.
Florida Tech will look to conclude the regular season on a high note when the team travels to Cleveland, Mississippi for a showdown with Delta State on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. ET. The Panthers’ matchup with DSU is the Space Coast Tourism GSC Game of the Week and will be live streamed on ESPN3.
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