WATCH REPLAY: Florida Tech Edges Newberry 30-28, Moves to 2-0 on the Season
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Director of Athletic Communications // September 15, 2019
Englehart pleased with his team's effort in another closely fought game that came down to the wire
NEWBERRY, S.C. – For the second week in a row, the Florida Tech defense came up with a game-saving play to secure the Panthers’ win. This time it was Tyrone Cromwell and Justin Wright who broke up the Wolves’ potential game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone as time expired, allowing Tech to hold on for a 30-28 victory at Setzler Stadium.
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“Obviously we feel great about this win,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “We expected this to be a really close game. We knew they were a good team and were going to fight until the end. It’s just how every game goes between us and Newberry.
“We just need to embrace who we are. We can win games on the last play of the game with toughness and heart. We just need to embrace that mentality.”
The Panthers are now 2-0 on the season. They also take a 3-2 series lead over their regional rivals from the South Atlantic Conference (SAC).
Englehart showed a lot of respect towards Newberry following the game.
“I’ve said this many times but I hope we can continue this rivalry with Newberry just because every game that we’ve played has been a great game. They are going to win some; we are going to win some. But it just a high-quality program that I hope we can keep a relationship with.”
Similar to Tech’s start a week ago against Savannah State, the Panthers got off to a fast start with Trent Chmelik finds Damien McGhee for a 20-yard touchdown strike just 55 seconds into the contest.
Chmelik was impressive throughout the day but especially in the early going as the senior began the game 5-for-5 for 136 yards and that touchdown strike.
Brian Spurgeon and Chmelik connected for a pair of explosive plays in the first quarter, the second being a 48-yard catch-and-run on the Panthers’ third drive of the game.
Tech later turned that drive into a 39-yard made field goal by Trey Schaneville that gave the Panthers a 10-0 lead with 2:17 in the opening quarter.
Newberry came back with consecutive touchdowns to take the lead in the second quarter.
The Wolves answered Tech’s field goal with a 10-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that the score 10-7. A few drives later, Newberry picked off Chmelik at their own 46-yard line. NC then went 52 yards in eight plays to grab a 14-10 advantage with 4:21 to go before halftime.
Right after the Wolves took the lead, the Panthers responded. Sophomore quarterback Mike Diliello led Tech on a 9-play, 75-yard drive.
Diliello went 2-for-2 for 28 yards passing on the drive while also running six times for 55 yards, including a three-yard plunge for the score that put the Crimson & Gray ahead 17-14 with 47 seconds left in the halftime.
A fumble by the Wolves on the ensuing kickoff set the Panthers with great field position, on the Newberry 25-yard line with 39 seconds to go in the half. Diliello capped off the extra possession with another three-yard touchdown run, his third of the season, to give Tech a 23-14 lead, which the team took into halftime.
The Panthers increased their lead to 30-14 with 2:40 left in the third quarter after Daniel Richardson ran in his first career touchdown from six yards out to cap off an eight-play, 80-yard drive.
Newberry stepped up its defense in the fourth and limited Tech to 37 yards of offense in addition to a fumble and a 1-of-5 effort on third down in the quarter.
The Wolves were able to cut their deficit to nine after forcing a fumble by Dilello on the Panthers’ own 39-yard line. Newberry converted the opportunity into a touchdown by Austin Gordon to make it 30-21 with 12:59 to go.
Newberry made it a two-point game, 30-28, after Dre Harris ran the ball in for the Wolves from one-yard out with 7:46 remaining.
A pair of stops by Newberry set its offense up with the ball on its own 12-yard line with 40 seconds left and a chance to drive down the field and win the game.
The Wolves were able to move the ball down to the 45 yard of Tech with seven seconds left on the clock. After one incompletion, Newberry had just two seconds left on the clock, time for one more Hail Mary.
The Wolves’ final chance looked promising as the ball found one of their better receivers in the end zone but Cromwell and Wright made strong plays on the ball and knocked it to the ground to secure the Panthers’ win.
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Englehart was pleased with his team’s effort in another closely fought game that came down to the wire.
“I continue to say it but I think the team we have this year is special. We have many hard-hat guys who work every day. You are going to win a lot of games with guys like that. They take pride in everything they do and they know who they are. They are going to keep fighting no matter what. This is a group that is really fun to coach.”
Florida Tech outgained Newberry, 437-380 while finishing with more passing yards, 244-197, and rushing yards, 193-183, than the Wolves. Newberry finished with more first downs in the game, 22-19, and went 7-of-14 on third down while holding Tech to just 4-of-12 on third-down conversions.
Newberry won the turnover battle, 2-1. Both teams went a perfect 9-of-9 in the red zone.
Chmelik finished 11-for-16 for 210 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception before leaving late in the game with an injury. Diliello went 3-for-4 for 34 yards in the game.
The running game has shown amazing improvement over the first two weeks of the season, and it has a lot to do with the great play of the Panthers’ offensive line. Last year, Tech averaged 130 rushing yards per game. This season, the Crimson & Gray have gained 165 and 222 yards and scored four total touchdowns against quality defenses.
Richardson led the rushing attack for the Panthers with career-highs in yards (70) and carries (12). Chmelik and Dilello combined for 117 yards on 21 carries.
Spurgeon led the receiving corps with four catches and 103 yards. It was the senior wideout’s first career 100-yard receiving performance. Max Linder caught two passes for 36 yards while Simon Williams had two receptions for 25 yards. Six other Panthers had a reception in the game.
Eric Johanning paced Tech’s defense with a career-best seven tackles, including two solo stops. Evan Thompson had six tackles, four of the solo variety, while Scott Arnold posted six tackles.
John McClure recorded five tackles and a forced fumble before exiting the game due to a targeting call. Cornelius Doe also had five tackles to go along with two pass break-ups. In addition to Doe, three other Panthers notched a pass break-up in the game while six total defenders had a quarterback hurry.
On special teams, Curtiss Thies punted the ball five times for 195 yards (39.0 avg) and placed two kicks inside the 20-yard line. Schaneville went 1-1 on field-goal attempts in the game and made 3-of-4 extra points.
Tech continues its early-season road-stand next Saturday, Sept. 21, when the Panthers travel to Cleveland, Mississippi for their Gulf South opener against Delta State at McCool Stadium.
The matchup between the Panthers and Statesmen is the GSC Game of the Week and will be broadcasted live on ESPN3. Kickoff at McCool Stadium is set for 7 p.m. ET.
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