Florida Tech Hosts Delta State In Primetime Gulf South Conference Opener at Panther Stadium
By Florida Tech // September 15, 2018
Game shown on ESPN3
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Fresh off a 17-10 victory over regional rival Newberry College last Saturday, the Florida Tech football team (2-0) hosts Delta State (0-2) on Saturday for both teams’ Gulf South Conference opener.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at Panther Stadium.
Saturday night’s game is the Panthers’ first-ever BLACK-OUT Game. Florida Tech encourages fans to wear black and support the team in its game versus Delta State. The first 400 fans at the game will receive a free black-out t-shirt.
This is the sixth all-time meeting between the Panthers and the Statesmen. DSU leads the series, 3-2, including winning the most recent installment, 42-20, over Florida Tech in last season’s finale on Nov. 11, 2017 in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Similar to the 2017 result, all five meetings in the series have been high scoring affairs with the teams combining to produce 359 points over the five games.
Prior to the loss in 2017, the Panthers had earned consecutive wins in the series. Florida Tech defeated DSU, 41-37, in 2015 in Cleveland and then took down the Statesmen, 42-16, at Panther Stadium in 2016. Delta State was victorious in the first two meetings, in 2013 and 2014, outscoring Florida Tech 110-51 in those games.
Saturday’s contest has been designated the Florida Space Coast GSC-TV Game of the Week and will be live streamed on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. This is the first of three nationally televised games for the Panthers. The Crimson and Gray’s games at Wingate (Sept. 29) and at West Alabama (Oct. 27) will also air on the platform.
Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart embraces his team’s opportunity to play on a national stage.
“There are many benefits for our program having our game on ESPN3,” said head coach Steve Englehart.
“It’s great for our players’ family and friends to be able to watch the games when they are not able to attend in person. Also, it’s a great opportunity to tell to our recruits and their families.”
LAST TIME OUT
Another impressive defensive performance by the Florida Tech defense propelled the Panthers to their home-opening victory over Newberry on Saturday. The defense limited the Wolves to just 277 yards of total offense, 103 yards passing and 174 yards rushing.
For the second week in a row the Panthers scored a defensive touchdown, this time it was senior defensive back Richard Leveille who picked off Wolves quarterback Dre Harris and ran it back 43 yards to the house. The heads-up play gave Florida Tech a 17-3 lead in the third quarter, and ended up being the game-winning touchdown for the Panthers.
“First and foremost, I think we have really good players on the defensive of the ball and they are playing with great passion and love for one another,” stated Englehart. “Coach Minter and our defensive staff have done a great job of putting together game plans against our first two opponents. To keep this momentum going, I think we need to continue to practice well during the week and our guys need to focus on doing their individual job to the best of their ability.”
Senior linebacker J.T. Hassell, who was honored as the Gulf South Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, racked up a career-best 19 tackles, including one tackle for loss totaling seven yards, and one forced fumble. The Titusville, Florida product is the first GSC player since 2015 to record at least 19 tackles in a game. The 2017 second team All-GSC selection leads Florida Tech in total tackles (21) and solo tackles (14) through two games this season.
Junior safeties John McClure and Daniel Welch were all over the field for Florida Tech, combining for 12 tackles, three tackles for loss totaling 20 yards, one forced fumble, and one blocked field goal.
That’s the second standout game in a row for McClure, as the newcomer posted two interceptions and a defensive touchdown in the Panthers’ season-opening win over Benedict College.
The passing game took strides against Newberry as junior quarterback Trent Chmelik completed 18-for-24 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown, and no turnovers.
Antwuan Haynes, and the rest of the Florida Tech rushers, continue to find little running room through the first two weeks of the season, amassing just 81 net yards over the two games.
“When we look at the last two weeks we are just a player away, a guy away, a block away from having really big offensive performances,” Englehart said.
“Our run game is a big part of that. Once again, if our offensive players focus on doing their job, eventually big plays will come from that.”
Haynes, however, became a threat in the passing game last week against Newberry, recording six catches for 74 yards, both were game-highs. Romell Guerrier also had an impactful game for the Panthers, making five receptions for 63 yards and catching Florida Tech’s only offensive touchdown, a 14-yarder from Chmelik, in the second quarter.
MEET THE OPPONENT: DELTA STATE
Don’t let the Statesmen’s record fool you. This Delta State football team is probably one of the best 0-2 teams in the nation. DSU’s early-season schedule included a road loss to Tarleton State in the season opener and a 21-10 defeat to No. 8 Grand Valley State last weekend.
The Statesmen are even with their opponents in total offense and total defense over the first two games. DSU is averaging 380.5 yards of offense per game while allowing 380.5 yards per game on defense.
Patrick Shegog is No. 1 on the depth chart at quarterback this week for DSU. If it stays the same, this will be the first career start for the true freshman. Shegog has played in both games this season for the Statesmen, completing 19-for-39 passes for 159 yards and two interceptions. He is DSU’s second-leading rusher with 94 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown.
Kelon Wilson is the Statesmen’s leading runner with 97 yards and a score on 24 carries. Brandon Rogers leads the team with five catches for 80 yards, while John McInnis has four receptions for 52 yards. No Statesmen has caught a touchdown pass this season.
Ovenson Cledanord, a first team All-GSC selection a year ago, leads the DSU defense with 21 tackles, including two sacks totaling six yards. Chandler Ector has 16 tackles this season, including two tackles for loss totaling seven yards and one sack.
“I think special teams will play a big part in the game tomorrow,” said Englehart.
“And, as always, being able to get turnovers on defense and protecting the football on offense will play a huge role. On defense we really need to do a great job of stopping the run and forcing them to be one dimensional, while on offense we need to protect Trent (Chmelik) and get the ball to our playmakers in space.”
Delta State was picked to finish fourth in the Gulf South Conference Preseason Coaches Poll this season, two spots ahead of the Panthers. DSU received 41 points in the poll and had three players named to the preseason All-GSC squad.
PANTHERS RECEIVING VOTES IN AFCA WEEK 3 RANKING
The American Football Coaches Association’s (AFCA) released its Week 3 Division II Coaches’ Poll on Monday and Florida Tech football is receiving votes in the ranking and earned a total of 24 points. The Panthers are joined by four other Gulf South Conference teams, including No. 8 West Alabama, No. 10 West Georgia and No. 13 West Florida and Valdosta State, who is receiving votes in the national poll.
ADONIS DAVIS HAS RECORD BOOK IN SIGHT
Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Adonis Davis is inching closer and closer to surpassing Florida Tech’s career records for sacks and tackles for loss. Davis had a breakout 2017 season, in which the Columbus, Ohio native racked up 19 tackles for loss and eight sacks, both school records. He entered the 2018 campaign with both career records in sight. Now with the Benedict and Newberry games out of the way, Davis, a 2018 preseason All-America, needs only 12 tackles for loss and just two sacks to tie J.J. Sanders’ career marks in both categories.
ANTWUAN HAYNES CHASING 3,000
Senior running back Antwuan Haynes is looking to become the second player in program history to achieve 3,000 career rushing yards.
Haynes has racked up 95 rushing yards over the first two games this season, bringing him to a career total of 2,750 rushing yards, just 250 more yards until 3,000. In addition, Haynes is also chasing another career milestone, becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher.
The position is currently owned by former Panther running back Trevor Sand at 3,280 rushing yards.
Football single game tickets for this weekend’s game are still on sale. Tickets cost $16 for adult reserved seating and $14 for senior, child and FIT employee reserved seating. Adult general admission tickets are $12, while senior, child and FIT employee general admission tickets are $6.
For questions regarding tickets, please contact the FIT Ticket Office at 321-674-6228 or e-mail AthleticsTickets@fit.edu
Parking at the Palm Bay Magnet High School and adjacent parking areas is $5 per vehicle, cash only. General parking can be purchased in advance on a season basis through the Florida Tech Ticket Office. Parking attendants will direct fans to the parking areas. Parking lots open two hours prior to the game. There is no tailgating permitted of any kind in these lots. PBMHS is a tobacco free campus.
Parking at Florida Tech is free of charge and free shuttle service is provided to and from Palm Bay Magnet High School.
Tailgating is only permitted on Florida Tech’s campus in designated areas and begins at 9 a.m. every home game day. There is no charge for tailgating.
Alcohol and grilling are only permitted in the designated areas of FIT campus. Open fire grilling is not permitted in the parking garage. There is an area set aside for tents in the Panther Den, located to the east of the Varsity Training Center on the southwest corner of FIT’s campus.
The Panther Prowl, the name of the team’s pregame walk from the Denius Student Center to the Varsity Training Center, will begin at about 4:15 p.m.
Food and beverage will be available for sale at the concession stand at Florida Tech Panther Stadium. Outside food and beverage is not allowed inside the stadium.
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