LISTEN LIVE: Florida Tech Takes On Mississippi College in Gulf South Showdown
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Sports // October 6, 2018
Florida Tech 4-0 All-Time vs. Choctaws, Kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium
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BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Following a one-week hiatus from Gulf South Conference action, the Florida Tech football team hosts league foe Mississippi College tonight at Panther Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s game is the Panthers’ Breast Cancer Awareness Game. All fans are encouraged to wear pink and support the fight against breast cancer.
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the Panthers and Choctaws. Florida Tech has dominated the series, outscoring Mississippi College, 151-23, and winning all four of the games by an average of 32 points.
The Crimson and Gray shutout Mississippi College the past two matchups, 41-0 in 2016 and 35-0 in 2017.
LAST TIME OUT
A blocked extra-point by Tyrone Cromwell, and the subsequent return by John McClure for a defensive PAT, secured Florida Tech’s 26-23 win over Wingate last week on the road. With the victory, the Panthers improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 against non-conference opponents.
With Florida Tech trailing at halftime for the first time all season, the offense came alive in the second half to lead the team to victory.
A pair of touchdown connections between junior quarterback Trent Chmelik and senior wide receiver Romell Guerrier gave Florida Tech a 21-17 edge with 14:16 to go in the fourth quarter. Trey Schaneville added a field goal later in the fourth to build the Panthers’ advantage to 24-17.
Looking to even the score, Wingate drove down the field on its final offensive possession and scored a touchdown with 1:05 remaining to bring the score to 24-23 and set up the game-winning block.
Chmelik posted one of the best games of his career, completing 15-of-26 passes for a career-high 273 yards and three touchdowns.
“Trent has gotten better every week,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “Every week I feel like he’s just grasping more and more. I could not be happier with the way he’s playing right now.”
For the second week in a row, Chmelik and Guerrier teamed up for two touchdowns in the game, helping Guerrier to one of the more prolific performances of his career.
The senior wide-out finished with a career-high 130 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. A pair of Florida Tech defenders, Adonis Davis and J.T. Hassell, had record-breaking performances against Wingate.
Davis recorded a team-high 11 tackles, one sack, and one quarterback hurry. His sack pushed his career total to 19 and made him the program’s all-time leader in the category.
Hassell got after the Wingate quarterback frequently in the victory, and the senior finished with nine tackles and a school-record four sacks. His 3.5 sacks in the first half are also a school record for most in a single half. He is only the eighth player in GSC history to record at least four sacks in a game.
John McClure also had himself a great game. The junior safety recorded seven tackles, one interception, one pass breakup, and scored the defensive PAT that sealed the Panthers’ victory. .
LAST TIME VS. MISSISSIPPI COLLEGE
In last season’s meeting with Mississippi College, the Panthers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. The score would remain the same until the final minutes of the third quarter when the Florida Tech offense came alive and produced 28 points over the final 18:52 of game time.
Florida Tech outgained MC 476-173 in the contest, including a 290-48 advantage through the air. What is most impressive, though, is that the defense held their own against the triple option offense utilized by the Choctaws. MC was limited to 125 yards, and just 3.2 yards per carry, against the Panthers last season.
Chmelik had himself a game the last time the Choctaws and Panthers met, on Sept. 23, 2017, in Clinton, Mississippi. He finished with 181 yards passing and accounted for four total touchdowns, throwing for three and running in another, in Florida Tech’s 35-0 victory over MC.
Guerrier led the Panthers in receiving that night, recording six receptions for 103 yards. Antwuan Haynes ran all over the Choctaws on that night, racking up 139 yards on 22 carries, while also catching three passes for 20 yards.
Defensively, Florida Tech was led by Patrick Banks, with eight tackles, and Daniel Welch, with six tackles. Davis notched five tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked kick, while Marquise Lewis finished with four tackles and a sack.
Ty Jobe completed 5-of-11 passes for 48 yards for the Choctaws, while Bobby Mitchell led his team in rushing with 27 yards on five carries. Colton Magee guided the MC defense with eight tackles, while Steven Bradley and Justin Stewart produced seven tackles apiece.
MEET THE OPPONENT: MISSISSIPPI COLLEGE CHOCTAWS
Mississippi College has been playing football longer than anyone in the state of Mississippi. The program started in 1907 and has amassed an all-time record of 484-446-36 (.520) over its 111-year history.
John Bland is the head coach of Mississippi College. He is in his fifth season and is the 15th head football coach in Mississippi College history. Bland has led the Choctaws to a 7-33 record over his first four seasons in Clinton.
After opening the season 2-0, Mississippi College was defeated twice the last two weeks, falling to GSC opponents, No. 11 West Florida, 21-34, and No. 13 Valdosta State, 42-63.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP: CHOCTAW OFFENSE vs PANTHER DEFENSE
Florida Tech’s success on Saturday will be dependent on how well the Panthers defend the Choctaws’ triple-option offense, which averages 423.8 yards per game. MC ranks first in the conference, and second nationally, in rushing offense at 320.0 yards per game.
“You have to be disciplined and you have to be tough,” said Englehart. “They (Miss. College) are going to run the ball every play if they can. You only get so many possessions as an offense because they are going to try and chew up the clock and move the chains as much as possible. It’s always a scary opposition when you have to play teams like that.
“You have to survive the first quarter really. You can’t simulate it in practice enough so the defense just has to get used to playing against it at game speed. It’s all about assignment football. You have to stay disciplined and aware against an offense like this.”
Choctaw quarterback Detric Hawthorn leads his team in rushing with 451 yards and five touchdowns on 72 carries. He has also completed 18-of-42 passes for 397 yards and three scores.
Despite only throwing the ball occasionally, the Choctaws are a threat through the air. MC averages 21.84 yards per completion, which is second best in the nation.
“Mississippi College is content just throwing the ball eight times a game, and only completing three of them,” stated Englehart. “But they want those three passes to be big plays. We just have to stick with our assignments to make sure plays like that won’t happen Saturday.”
Tiberias Lampkin is MC’s next leading rusher with 51 carries for 281 yards and one touchdown. Drew Croegaert has caught a team-high four passes for 121 yards and one score over the first four games of the season.
Florida Tech ranks third in the GSC allowing 17.8 points per game. The Crimson and Gray also give up 318.0 yards of offense to its opponents per game, including 122.6 on the ground. However, the Panthers are limiting opponents to just 3.1 yards per carry.
Seniors Adonis Davis and J.T. Hassell will be tasked with helping lead the defense against the Choctaws running game.
Davis ranks seventh in the GSC in total tackles with 32, while his 8.0 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles are the most in the league this season. Davis is also second in the conference with 4.0 sacks through five games.
Hassell, the reigning GSC Defensive Player of the Week, leads the league in tackles (49), solo tackles (33), tackles per game (9.8) and sacks (4.5). Hassell is also tied for fourth in the league with 5.5 tackles for loss this season.
Evan Thompson is the Panthers third-leading tackler with 25 tackles and 3.0 sacks, while John McClure has 19 tackles and is tied atop the GSC with three interceptions.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP: PANTHER OFFENSE vs CHOCTAW DEFENSE
Florida Tech’s offense has been showing improvement every week this season, and now the Panthers are averaging 324.6 yards and 25.4 points per game.
Trent Chmelik has completed 82-of-135 passes for 1,059 yards and eight touchdowns. He is averaging 211.8 yards per game through the air.
Romell Guerrier has become the favorite target for Chmelik this season and now leads the GSC in receiving yards (433) and touchdowns (6). The senior also ranks second in the league in total receptions with 26 and is third with 5.2 receptions per game.
Englehart believes the connection between Chmelik and Guerrier began last season and has blossomed since spring ball.
“When Chmelik was in the games last year, he found Guerrier for a couple touchdowns. Their chemistry grew during the spring practices and summer. They’ve always seemed to have a little connection but we’re really seeing the fruit of it this season.
“Romell has really been Trent’s go-to-guy. We still spread the ball around pretty well but if I was Trent, that’s who I would want to throw the ball to as well. I could not be happier with the way Romell is playing right now. We want to give him the ball as many times as we can.”
Antwuan Haynes leads Florida Tech in rushing with 300 yards and two touchdowns on 77 carries. Haynes has also been effective through the air, picking up 140 yards on 13 catches this season. Brian Spurgeon, Jr. also has 13 receptions for 176 yards.
Defensively, MC is giving up 34.0 points and 453.0 yards of offense per game to its opponents. Derric Hawthorne leads the group with 21 tackles. Turner Rotenberry and Elijah Rogers have 19 and 16 tackles on the season, respectively, and have also combined for five of the Choctaws’ seven interceptions this season.
PANTHERS RECEIVING VOTES IN AFCA WEEK 6 RANKING
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) released its Week 6 Division II Coaches’ Poll on Monday and Florida Tech football is receiving votes in the poll, earning a total of 4 points in the ranking. The Panthers are joined by four other Gulf South Conference teams, including No. 5 West Georgia, No. 10 Valdosta State, No. 11 West Florida, and West Alabama (receiving votes).
ADONIS DAVIS CHASING CAREER RECORD FOR TACKLES FOR LOSS
With his one sack against Wingate, redshirt-senior defensive lineman Adonis Davis surpassed J.J. Sanders on the all-time career sacks list. Davis, now with 19 career sacks, sits atop the category in the program record book. The Columbus, Ohio native is also moving closer to the program record for tackles for loss. Davis now has 46 for his Florida Tech career, six off the record set by Sanders.
ANTWUAN HAYNES WITHIN REACH OF RUSHING RECORDS
Senior Antwuan Haynes has accumulated 2,955 rushing yards over his career and is only 326 yards away from breaking Florida Tech’s all-time rushing record, currently held by Trevor Sand at 3,280 yards. Haynes also needs just two more scores on the ground to tie Sand’s career record of 24 rushing TDs.
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.
Be sure to catch the Florida Tech Panthers Pregame Show on Space Coast Daily TV at 6:00 p.m.
Don’t miss the lead up of pre-game activities on Space Coast Daily TV starting at 5:30 with In The RedZone with Panthers head coach Steve Englehart and Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski.
Immediately after In the RedZone, Alan will preview the matchup with Mississippi College live from the sidelines at Florida Tech Panthers Stadium along with Steve Wilson and Orville Susong from the Friday Night Locker Room on the Panthers Pregame Kickoff Show.
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