Florida Tech Hits the Road to Face No. 8 West Georgia in Gulf South Conference Contest
By Space Coast Daily // September 22, 2018
BOTH TEAMS ARE UNDEFEATED AT 3-0
Space Coast Daily TV will bring you live coverage as Steve Wilson of the Friday Night Locker Room is in Georgia with the Panthers
CARROLLTON, GEORGIA – Following a rout over Delta State in last week’s Gulf South Conference opener, the Florida Tech football team is 3-0 for the third time in program history.
On Saturday, the Panthers have their toughest test yet as they face No. 8 West Georgia (3-0) on the road. Kickoff between the Panthers and Wolves is set for 2 p.m. ET at University Stadium in Carrollton, Georgia.
THE SERIES: PANTHERS VS. WOLVES: Saturday’s game is the sixth all-time meeting between the Panthers and the Wolves with UWG leading the series, 3-2.
This is not the first time the Panthers have squared off with a highly-ranked Wolves team. In fact, Florida Tech took on a No. 1 ranked West Georgia squad in 2015, and defeated the Wolves, 28-26, at Panther Stadium in what possibly is the biggest win in program history.
The next season Florida Tech picked up its other win in the series, overpowering the Wolves, 45-21, in Carrollton. The Panthers will look to even the series with West Georgia, and make it two straight wins on UWG’s home field, this Saturday.
LAST TIME OUT: Florida Tech raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first five minutes of its GSC opener against Delta State last Saturday en route to a 30-12 win.
The Crimson & Gray racked up 403 yards of offense in the victory, including a season-high 219 yards on the ground. Antwuan Haynes broke out for a season-best 88 yards on 14 carries and a 69-yard gallop to the end zone.
Trent Chmelik and Romell Guerrier connected nine times for 115 yards and a 39-yard touchdown during the victory over DSU. Chmelik showed a lot of improvement in his game, completing 19-for-28 for 182, one touchdown and one interception.
Quarterback runs were a major factor in the win as the Panthers unveiled a new “wild-cat” offensive scheme that featured wide receiver Austin Evarts behind center. The sophomore found a lot of room to run as Evarts picked up 76 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
“This is going to be a major part of our offense every week,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “If it’s successful, we will stay with it throughout the game. Austin and Trent could be running this throughout the season.”
The Delta State offense struggled in its matchup with the Florida Tech defense. The Statesmen registered just 193 yards of offense on 64 plays.
J.T. Hassell and Evan Thompson led the defensive effort, combining for 19 tackles and two sacks. Hassell also scored two points for the Panthers on a 98-yard defensive return on a muffed PAT attempt by the Statesmen.
Amani Peoples also broke out onto the scene with three sacks in the game. In total, the Panther defense produced 12 pass breakups, six sacks and seven tackles for loss totaling 54 yards against DSU.
MEET THE OPPONENT: WEST GEORGIA: West Georgia is 3-0 on the season and ranked No. 8 in both the AFCA Poll and the D2Football.com Poll.
The Wolves are one of the top offensive and defensive teams in the nation. UWG ranks in the top 30 in rushing offense (218.3), total offense (454.3) and scoring offense (40.3). On the opposite side of the ball, West Georgia ranks in the top 15 nationally in passing defense (113.0), total defense (240.0) and scoring defense (12.7).
West Georgia has dominated in its first three games of the season, outscoring its opponents 121-38 and winning by an average margin of almost four touchdowns.
Willie Candler and DeVontae Jackson lead the Wolves dynamic offense. At quarterback, Candler has thrown for 693 yards and eight touchdowns this season in addition to averaging 45 yards on the ground. As the GSC’s leading rusher, Jackson is averaging 112 yards per game, 6.6 yards per carry, and has four touchdowns on the year.
“West Georgia has a really good offense with good players,” said Englehart.
“In order to be successful on Saturday, we have to limit the big plays and make them earn everything. Obviously, we need to keep Devonte Jackson in check. He will get yards but we can’t let him get the big explosive plays.”
John Hurst and Emoni Williams guide a deep Wolves receiving core. Hurst has nine receptions and 118 yards and a touchdown on the season, while Williams has amassed 132 yards on eight catches.
The Wolves are led defensively by Chris Blackston, with 18 total tackles, and Montrell Pardue, who has 17 tackles, one interception, and one forced fumble this season.
West Georgia was picked to finish third in the GSC Preseason Coaches Poll this season, three spots ahead of the Panthers. UWG had five players named to the preseason All-GSC squad.
PANTHERS RECEIVING VOTES IN AFCA WK 4 RANKING: The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) released its Week 4 Division II Coaches’ Poll on Monday and Florida Tech football is receiving votes in the poll, earning a total of 71 points in the ranking. The Panthers are joined by four other Gulf South Conference teams, including No. 8 West Georgia, No. 10 West Florida, No. 16 Valdosta State and No. 23 West Alabama.
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. With the stats from the 2018 season included, the preseason All-America needs only 11 tackles for loss and just one sack 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 currently stands at 2,849 rushing yards, just 151 away from reaching 3,000. Haynes is 431 yards from becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher, which is currently owned by former Panther Trevor Sand at 3,280 rushing yards.
For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech football team, visit FloridaTechSports.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Panthers news by following Florida Tech Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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