Florida Tech Takes On North Greenville For Senior Day Game at Panther Stadium

By  //  November 3, 2018

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Kickoff set for 2 p.m.

The Florida Tech football team welcomes North Greenville on Saturday for its annual Senior Day Game at Panther Stadium. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech football team welcomes North Greenville on Saturday for its annual Senior Day Game at Panther Stadium.

Kickoff between the Panthers and Crusaders is set for 2 p.m.

With two weeks remaining in the 2018 regular season, Florida Tech is currently sixth in the Super Region 2 rankings, the final playoff position in the region. Therefore, if the Panthers can win-out the next two games, against NGU and Shorter on the road next week, it will go a long way to solidifying their postseason fate.

Despite the implications on regional standing, head coach Steve Englehart and the Panthers are approaching this game like any other.

“I think you have pressure to win games every week,” Englehart stated. “In the big picture, this game is no more or less important than the first game of the year when you look at the regional rankings. I do know that our team really wants to win this game for the seniors on Senior Day.”

SENIOR DAY

Sixteen players and one cheerleader will be honored on the field prior to Saturday’s game as part of Florida Tech’s Senior Day ceremony.

The Panthers who will be honored are defensive back Darion Andre, running back David Bryant, wide receiver Terrance Bynum, defensive lineman Adonis Davis, wide receiver Romell Guerrier, kicker Kyle Gullikson, linebacker J.T. Hassell, running back Antwuan Haynes, defensive lineman Jimmy Hinel, offensive lineman Joe Laguna, kicker Zachary Leatherman, linebacker Richard Leveille, linebacker Marcus Pettigrew, defensive lineman Warren Powers, defensive back Renzo Salvador, and defensive back Xavier Story. Amber Palmer from the cheerleading team will also be recognized on the field prior to kickoff.

“This senior class, like every senior class, is important to me for the same reasons,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “They have sacrificed for the good of the school and their team. They have been loyal. They have worked hard to make this program successful.

“Obviously, this group has been extremely productive when you look at some of the individual records they have set and how many games they have won.”

Heading into Saturday’s game, one more win will give this senior group 27 for their career, the most by any class in program history.

THE SERIES

Florida Tech and North Greenville have split their two matchups. The Crusaders defeated the Panthers, 27-13, at Panther Stadium in the first-ever meeting three years ago, during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Division II Playoffs. The Panthers evened the score in 2017, besting NGU by a score of 42-31 in Tigerville.

MEET THE CRUSADERS

North Greenville enters Saturday’s game with at 4-4 overall and a 3-3 record in league action. This while facing one of the top 10 toughest schedules in the nation this season, according to herosports.com, as seven of NGU’s 11 opponents this season currently have winning records.

NGU, located in Tigerville, South Carolina, is in its first season as a member of the Gulf South Conference and has been an NCAA Division II member institution since 2001.

Jeff Farrington is in his sixth season as head coach of the Crusader football team. He is 36-29 overall and has led NGU to an NCAA Victory Bowl title in 2014 while taking the program to its second NCAA Playoff appearance in 2016. The Crusaders advanced to the quarterfinals during the most recent playoff run and finished with a 9-5 record.

The Crusaders were picked seventh in the GSC Preseason Coaches Poll prior to the start of the season, one spot back of Florida Tech.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP: PANTHER OFFENSE VS. CRUSADER DEFENSE

Florida Tech is averaging 25.7 points per game and 354.0 yards of total offense. The ground game is still a bit down this season, averaging 117.1 yards per game, but the passing game has picked up the slack behind the great play of junior quarterback Trent Chmelik and is now averaging 236.9 yards through the air per game.

Chmelik is getting better every week of the season, and last time out he completed a career-high 25 passes to 10 different receivers against West Alabama. He has completed 164 passes this season for 2,117 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Brian Spurgeon, Jr. led Florida Tech with five receptions versus UWA, but it’s been Romell Guerrier who has provided the spark on the outside all season long. Guerrier leads the GSC in receptions (47), receiving yards (762) and touchdowns (9), and is averaging 16.2 yards per catch.

Antwuan Haynes is the top rusher for the Panthers with 618 yards and four touchdowns on 144 carries. This could be an extra special senior day for Haynes, as he has a chance to become the program’s all-time leading rusher and leader in career rushing touchdowns against NGU. He needs just eight rushing yards and one rushing score to achieve both feats.

Haynes could be primed for a big day as he has had a lot of success versus NGU in the past ­­­­– rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown in 2016 and then recording 155 total yards, on 94 rushing and 61 receiving, last season.

“We have to do a great job of running the football and the offensive line will be the reason we can or cannot run it,” said Englehart. “Antwuan will be the beneficiary if we play well up front and are able to stretch the ball down the field to loosen up the box and coverage.”

North Greenville ranks fourth in the GSC in total defense, allowing 359.1 yards per game to its opponents including 142.6 on the ground and 216.5 through the air, both totals rank near the middle of the league. Teams are averaging 24.8 points per game against the Crusader defense.

Dominique Hunt leads NGU with 56 total tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Aaron Watson leads the conference with five interceptions to go along with 12 pass deflections and seven pass breakups. Matthew Thomas has 38 tackles this year with seven of those going for a loss, including two sacks.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP: CRUSADER OFFENSE VS. PANTHER DEFENSE

North Greenville is averaging 21.1 points and 333.6 yards of total offense per game. The Crusaders’ rank second in the GSC in passing offense, behind only Valdosta State, at 265.5 yards per game. However, their rushing offense is last in the league in rushing at 68.1 yards a clip,

Despite the lack of production on the ground, Florida Tech is not going to overlook the NGU rushing attack.

“Our defense still needs to do a great job of stopping the run North Greenville can still hurt you with the run if you let them,” added Englehart. “With their passing game, our secondary has to execute at a high level and we have to get pressure on their quarterback. We need to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.”

EJ Humphrey and Dashonell Wright are the top rushers for NGU. Humphrey has 264 yards and two touchdowns on 103 attempts this season, while Wright is at 210 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries.

Redshirt-senior quarterback Will Hunter leads the Crusader offense with 1,913 passing on 151-of-256 passing and 15 touchdowns. Hunter has thrown 11 interceptions this season, something that could be costly against a Panther defense that leads the GSC in turnover margin.

Lucas Catalfomo and Demajiay Rooks are the two receiving threats for NGU. Catalfomo has 556 receiving yards and three scores on 36 catches, while Rooks has a team-best 40 catches for 489 yards and four touchdowns.

Florida Tech ranks second in the conference in total defense (344.9/game) and passing defense (186.3/game). The Panthers are sixth in the league in rush defense, allowing 158.6 yards per game on the ground, and fourth in scoring defense at 24.6 points allowed.

The Panthers have forced opponents into 18 turnovers this season, including 10 picks. The defense also ranks third in the league with 2.44 sacks per game.

J.T. Hassell leads the defense and is making a strong campaign for the GSC Defensive Player of the Year award. The senior leads the GSC in total tackles (96) and tackles per game (10.9), and is fifth in the league in total sacks (4.5) and sacks per game (0.50). He also ranks fourth nationally in forced fumbles (0.44/game).

Adonis Davis has 60 tackles on record this season and tops the GSC in tackles for loss (13.0) and sacks (6.0). Evan Thompson has 52 tackles this season and John McClure is second in the league with four interceptions to go along with 34 tackles.

RECORDS WATCH
– A number of individual records could fall over the next two games. A breakdown of the potential records can be found below.
– Guerrier needs three receiving touchdowns to break Xavier Milton’s single-season record of 11 touchdowns
– Hassell needs four tackles to break J.J. Sanders’ single-season record of 99 tackles
– Haynes needs eight rushing yards to break Trevor Sand’s all-time mark of 3,280 yards
– Haynes needs one more score on the ground to become the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 25
– Trey Schaneville needs three more field goals this season to set a new single-season record for made kicks with 13.–

TICKETING INFORMATION

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 INFORMATION

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 INFORMATION

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 11:15 a.m.

Food and beverage will be available for sale at the concession stand at Florida Tech Panther Stadium. Outside food and beverage are not allowed inside the stadium.

For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech football team, visit FloridaTechSports.com

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