COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida Tech Wins Season Opener Over Benedict College, 33-14
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Athletics // September 2, 2018
Florida Tech DEFENSE forces four turnovers
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – First game, first win. Florida Tech (1-0) kicked off the 2018 season on Saturday evening with a 33-14 road victory over Benedict College (0-1) at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
With the result, the Panthers improve to 3-0 all-time when opening the season on the road. This was the first meeting between Florida Tech and Benedict.
The Crimson & Gray defense got off to a great start to the season as newcomer John McClure put the Panthers on the board first with a pick-six. McClure intercepted BC quarterback Dominique Harris on the Tigers’ first offensive play of the game and took it 48 yards to the house.
Two drives later, the Panther defense scored again as a bad snap flew behind the Tigers’ quarterback and was recovered 30 yards later by Harris in the end zone for a safety, giving Florida Tech a 9-0 edge with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
Running back David Bryant, another newcomer, capped a 7-play, 64-yard drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone, extending the Panthers’ lead to 16-0 at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter.
Benedict put points on the board on a Harris 29-yard completion to Drelon Freeman to make the score 16-7 with 1:51 left in the opening quarter.
A field goal by freshman Trey Schaneville late in the second frame gave the Panthers a 19-7 advantage at halftime.
Daniel Richardson added to Florida Tech’s lead with a one-yard dive into the end zone with 10:19 to go in the third period.
Antwuan Haynes then sealed the season-opening victory with a 42-yard scamper into the end zone to put the Panthers ahead, 33-7, with 10:19 remaining in the fourth.
The Tigers ended the scoring with an 80-yard pass and catch from Phillip Brown to Freeman in the final moments as the Panthers went on to win by a 19-point margin.
Trent Chmelik completed 14-of-27 passes for 191 yards and one interception. Brian Spurgeon finished with 47 yards on five receptions, followed by Romell Guerrier with three receptions for 69 yards. Haynes had three catches for 28 yards and Terrance Bynum caught one pass for 20 yards.
Haynes led the Florida Tech rushers with 72 yards on 14 carries and one score, Spurgeon had 10 yards on one carry, while Bryant and Richardson combined for seven yards and two touchdowns on four carries.
Benedict outgained Florida Tech, 348-277, while both teams struggled on third downs – Panthers converted 3-of-14 and the Tigers went 4-of-17.
“We knew it would be tough to run the ball on that Benedict defense,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “We needed to execute some of the things in the passing game better as well as be better on third downs. However, a positive to take away from this game is that we did have some explosive plays on offense.”
Overall, the Florida Tech defense had a great performance in the opener as the unit forced the Tigers into four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble recovery, and two defensive scores. The Panthers racked up two sacks and eight tackles for loss totaling 24 yards in the game.
Evan Thompson led the way with six tackles, including five solo stops, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup. Marquise Lewis and Amani Peoples both finished with four tackles, while Adonis Davis collected four solo stops, including two tackles for loss totaling 15 yards, one sack and one forced fumble. Richard Leveille recorded two tackles for loss and Braxton Larmond notched a sack.
“I thought the defense played really well especially for how many plays they had to face,” stated Englehart. “It was really nice to see our defensive backs play well and get three interceptions in the game. Coach Brian Vaughn has done a nice job with them.”
Schaneville had a terrific first collegiate appearance for a team that struggled in the kicking area during the 2017 season. The freshman knocked down all five of his kicks in the game – four extra points and one field goal.
“I’m happy for Trey coming in as a freshman and having some immediate success,” added Englehart. “We will need him to have a good year for us to be successful.”
Florida Tech welcomes Newberry College for the Panthers’ home opener next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Panther Stadium. CLICK HERE FOR TICKET INFORMATION.
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