Florida Tech Panther Defense Shines in 17-10 Victory Over Newberry College in Home Season Opener
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Director of Athletic Communications // September 9, 2018
Gulf South Conference opener against Delta State set Saturday at Panther Stadium
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Another win is in the books for the Florida Tech football team as the Panthers bested the visiting Wolves of Newberry College by the score 17-10, and improve to 2-0 on the young season.
After a hard-fought victory, head coach Steve Englehart was pleased with his team’s performance against a strong Newberry squad.
“I told the guys in the locker room that I am not concerned with how we win, just as long as we win,” said Englehart. “I’ll be more concerned on Monday when we watch the film but right now all that matters is just getting a win. We’re 2-0 on the season, and 2-0 in regional play, and that’s important.”
The win over the Wolves evens the series between Florida Tech and Newberry to 2-2, with both teams winning a home and away contest.
A solid defensive play by John McClure early in the first quarter, blocking Kevin Weber’s 44-yard field goal attempt on the Wolves’ opening drive, set the tone for the game. Richard Leveille recovered the loose ball to give Florida Tech its first possession. However, it did not amount to much as the Panthers went three-and-out and gave the ball right back to Newberry.
The Wolves’ two-pronged dual-threat quarterback offense posed some issues for the Panther defense in the first quarter as NC’s Dre Harris and Greg Ruff combined for 32 yards rushing on five carries.
It was not until the waning moments of the second quarter when the Panthers were finally able to get on the scoreboard.
After forcing a three-and-out, Florida Tech received a punt on its own 43-yard line with 3:32 to go. From there the Panthers marched 57 yards down the field on six plays and capped off the drive with a Trent Chmelik 14- yard connection with Romell Guerrier in the back corner of the end zone. Chmelik went 3-3 for 44 yards on the possession to put the Crimson and Gray ahead, 7-0.
A Newberry 34-yard field goal by Shea Rodgers as time expired trimmed the Panthers advantage to 7-3 at halftime.
After missing his first attempt early in the game, Trey Schaneville regained his composure and increased Florida Tech’s lead to a touchdown on his 31-yarder that split the uprights with 9:14 to go in the third.
The Panther defense struck again a few minutes later as Leveille picked off Dre Harris at the Newberry 48 yard line and returned it 48 yards to the house for his first career defensive touchdown, increasing the Panthers’ lead to 17-3.
Newberry again cut its deficit to seven points when Voshon St. Hill ran it in from two yards out with no time left in the third quarter. However, this would be the Wolves final points of the game as could not produce any offense in the final frame.
The Panther defense played lights out during the fourth, limiting Newberry to just 19 total yards on 12 plays, including a pair of three-and-outs on the Wolves final two drives. A fourth-down stop with 1:14 to go sealed the Panthers’ second win of the season.
Newberry outgained Florida Tech, 265-230, on Saturday, including a 168-19 edge in the rushing department. The Panthers did finish with 211 yards of passing while limiting the Wolves to 97 yards for the game.
Chmelik notched career-highs for completions and passing yards in the win, as he went 18-of-24 for 211 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought we did a good job in the passing game,” Englehart said. “Trent was much better this week than he was last week. We just have to continue to gel as a unit. I think we will start to click more and more as the weeks go on. We have a lot of new guys on offense. They’ll be better but we just have to go to work.”
Antwuan Haynes led the Florida Tech rushers with 24 yards on 15 carries against a stout Newberry defense. The other two Panther running backs also had a hard time finding running room, as Kamario Bell and Kiaryn Davis combined for 12 yards on five carries.
“We have to do a better job at running the ball,” said Englehart. We lost our right guard during Thursday’s practice and it was time decision on whether he would be able to play today and he was not able to today. That’s a difficult loss to deal with but you also have to credit Newberry, they have a great defense and it’s tough to run the ball on them.
Haynes did find some success attacking the Wolves through the air as the senior running back corralled 6 receptions for 74 yards in the game, both team-highs.
Guerrier collected 63 yards on five catches. Brian Spurgeon, Jr. recorded three receptions for 39 yards, while Kenny Hiteman took his three catches for 22 yards.
J.T. Hassell paced the Florida Tech defense with a career-high 19 tackles against the Wolves, including one tackle for loss totaling seven yards and one forced fumble.
Daniel Welch also caused a fumble, while making six total tackles including one for loss totaling 11 yards. In addition to his block, McClure recorded six tackles, including two for loss. Adonis Davis had five tackles and one tackle for loss, while Justin Wright and Karenz Stephens each made four tackles in the game.
Kyle Gullikson did a great job reversing the field position battle by backing up the Wolves offense with a number of beautifully placed kicks. The senior out of Titusville knocked his six punts a total of 171 yards down the field and placed two inside the Wolves 20-yard line.
Florida Tech will now focus its attention on next weekend’s Gulf South Conference opener against Delta State on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Panther Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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