JUST IN: Florida Tech Panthers Fall Short At West Alabama 29-22
By Florida Tech // October 27, 2018
FLORIDA TECH @ WEST ALABAMA – SATURDAY AT 5 P.M.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA (Florida Tech) – Fresh off its first Coastal Classic win, Florida Tech (6-2, 3-2 GSC) begins the final stretch of the regular season with a crucial GSC matchup against West Alabama (5-3, 2-3 GSC).
Kickoff between the Panthers and Tigers is Saturday, Oct. 27, at 5 p.m. ET at Tiger Stadium in Livingston, Alabama.
“This is a big week this week as we head to take on West Alabama,” said head coach Steve Englehart.
“They are a great football team despite their record. They (West Alabama) were banged up early this season with (Harry) Satterwhite missing some games and (Qua) Boyd was banged up. But they are getting healthier now.
“This is also West Alabama’s homecoming game so they are going to be fired up for that game. For us, it’s tough going on the road in this conference, especially after going on the road to West Florida and the emotional victory there. Now we have to turn around and go to Livingston to face a really good UWA squad.”
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 final of three scheduled nationally televised games for the Panthers in 2018.
The Crimson and Gray have won three of the first five games in the series with UWA, including last season’s 41-39 thrilling victory over the undefeated Tigers at Panther Stadium.
The Panthers and Tigers have split the first two matchups in Livingston, with the home team earning the most recent win, 35-45, during the 2016 season. The two teams have combined to score 310 points over the five games, with UWA outscoring Florida Tech, 174–136.
LAST TIME VS. TIGERS
Playing against the top team in the league, as well as the GSC’s top offense, the Panthers held their own against No. 18 West Alabama during the 2017 season.
Last year’s matchup went down to the wire, with Mark Cato scoring the game-winning touchdown to give Florida Tech the lead with 51 seconds remaining. The Panthers then sealed the win when Joe Jackson picked off Harry Satterwhite on Florida Tech’s 27-yard line with 16 seconds to go, as the Tigers driving for a chance to tie or win the game.
The Panthers outgained the Tigers, 484-463, in the contest and forced a season-best three turnovers against UWA, including two fumbles and an interception.
Both teams a number of key returners who had an impact on last season’s meeting.
On offense, Antwuan Haynes ran for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries, while also adding 20 yards through the air on two catches. Romell Guerrier caught four passes for 41 yards in the win, while Brian Spurgeon and Terrance Bynum each had two catches in the contest.
For UWA, Satterwhite completed 22-of-40 for 342 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Tyler Rogers rushed for 52 and a touchdown on six carries in last year’s game, and Qua Boyd caught five passes for 100 yards and a score.
Evan Thompson led the Panther defense with eight tackles, including five of the solo variety, while J.T. Hassell and Adonis Davis each recorded seven tackles. Patrick Banks had six tackles, one tackle for loss, and returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown.
Defensively for the Tigers, Jordan Jones, Dakota Rushing, and Terry Samuel all recorded five tackles, with Jones being one of three UWA players to record a sack in last season’s showdown.
MEET THE TIGERS
The West Alabama Tigers began playing football in 1938. Since then UWA has won four GSC Championships, including last season’s title as the team finished 10-3 and 7-1 in league play.
Tigers’ coach Brett Gilliland is a former quarterback at UWA. He finished his career with 6,699 passing yards and 43 total touchdowns, 36 passing, during his three seasons in Livingston. He concluded his career as the Tigers’ record holder in single-season passing yards (3,213) and career passing yards.
West Alabama is coming off a narrow, 27-25, loss to No. 3 West Georgia in its previous contest on Oct. 20. Trailing 27-19, Satterwhite connected with Tiger tight end Qua Boyd on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:08 to play but UWA then failed on the two-point conversion attempt. The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Tigers.
West Alabama’s other two losses have come against Valdosta State (24-58) and North Greenville (16-20).
UWA was picked to repeat as GSC Champions in 2018 by the league’s coaches. The Tigers received 62 points, including six first-place votes in the GSC Preseason Coaches Poll.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP: PANTHER OFFENSE vs. TIGER DEFENSE
Florida Tech ranks sixth across the board in the GSC in total offense (356.6), passing offense (229.9), rushing offense (126.8), and scoring offense (26.1).
West Alabama leads the league in rush defense allowing just 114.0 yards per game. The Tigers also rank fifth in the conference in total defense (379.8), sixth in scoring defense (25.3), and seventh in passing defense (265.8).
Trent Chmelik has started every game for Florida Tech this season. The junior quarterback has completed 139-of-231 for 1,824 yards, 13 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He ranks second in the GSC in completion percentage (60.2%), third in passing efficiency (139.9), and is fourth in passing yards per game (228.0).
“Trent has really been playing well for us this season,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “He’s been putting in the work in practice, in the strength room and in film study. We put a lot on Trent in this offense. He makes all the calls and checks or kills plays on the field. Trent has worked his tail off, he takes every little thing to heart, and as a result, he has put himself in a position to succeed.”
Antwuan Haynes heads up the Panthers rushing attack with 575 yards and three touchdowns on 131 carries. The senior’s 71.9 rushing yards per game ranks sixth in the conference.
Guerrier has been on a tear this season and leads the GSC in numerous categories, including receptions (43), receptions per game (5.4), yards (687), yards per game (85.9), and is tied atop the league with nine receiving touchdowns. He has caught a touchdown in all but two games this season and surpassed the 100-yard mark four times.
“Romell Guerrier is having a great year for us as well,” Englehart added. “It seems like every game he’s running by someone on a vertical route that ends up being a touchdown. He’s really helping us stretch the field.”
The UWA defense is guided by 2017 GSC Defensive Player of the Year Terry Samuel, who has a team-high 67 tackles this season, good for second-most in the league. Tavaris Hutchinson is also a force for the Tigers and is tied for fourth in the GSC with 62 tackles.
Jordan Jones is second in the conference in tackles for loss with 10.5, while Nicarius Peterson is tied for second in the league with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP: TIGER OFFENSE VS. PANTHER DEFENSE
West Alabama is third in the GSC in passing offense, averaging 248.5 yards per game, fourth in scoring offense (27.4), and fifth in total offense (374.8).
Florida Tech ranks second in the league in total defense (339.8) and passing defense (184.1). The Panthers are also fourth in scoring defense (24.0) and sixth in rush defense (155.6).
“Our defense is playing great right now,” stated Englehart. “Their forcing a lot of turnovers and are scoring. Coach Minter does an awesome job with them. They are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Satterwhite has completed 150-of-253 for 1,809 yards, 15 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He ranks first in the GSC in passing yards per game (258.4) and is fourth in completion percentage (59.6).
Rogers leads UWA, and is fifth in the league, in rushing with 583 yards and four touchdowns on 111 attempts. He is averaging 64.8 yards per game, good for seventh in the GSC.
Christian Saulsberry is the Tigers top receiving threat with 527 yards and two touchdowns. He is tied atop the league with Guerrier with 43 receptions. Tyriq Martin and Qua Boyd are also threats to score with the two combining for 11 receiving touchdowns this season.
GSC-leading tackler J.T. Hassell has 82 stops this season including a league-high 55 solo tackles. He is averaging 10.3 tackles per game, most in the league, and is fourth in sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (7.0).
Adonis Davis is second on the team, and eighth in the league, with 52 tackles. The senior defensive lineman leads the GSC in tackles for loss (12.0), sacks (6.0), and forced fumbles (3).
John McClure is tied for second in the GSC with three interceptions including one he returned for a touchdown.
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