Florida Tech Panthers Drop Road Contest To Mississippi College 34-14
By Space Coast Daily // October 13, 2019
Panthers first ever loss to MC
MISSISSIPPI (Florida Tech) – The Florida Tech football team was unable to slow down Mississippi College on the road Saturday night and the Panthers fell to the Choctaws 34-14 in GSC action at Robinson-Hale Stadium.
This marks the first time that MC has ever defeated Tech. The Panthers won the first five games in the series and averaged 33 points per game in theirs past wins over the Choctaws at Robinson-Hale. However, four turnovers and an inability to stop Mississippi College’s triple-option running game was a recipe for failure for Florida Tech tonight.
The Choctaws stifled the Crimson & Gray’s offense all night. MC outgained the Panthers, 390-232, while picking up 26 first downs compared to just 12 for Tech. MC racked up 271 yards on the ground and limited the Panthers to just 59 rushing yards, nearly 100 yards below their season average. FT also had just 173 passing yards in the game, more than 100 yards below their average.
All of the struggles allowed the Choctaws control the game from the beginning and amass nearly 40 minutes of possession time (39:51) on Saturday.
Choctaws drove right down the field in 10 plays on their first possession and scored on a six-yard run by Jaylin Jones with 9:37 left in the first quarter.
MC then increased its lead to 14-0 when Ja’Mori Mark found Cole Rotenberry on a half-back pass with just 13 seconds to go in the first half.
With time winding down before halftime, Mike Diliello threw up a prayer and somehow found Damien McGhee in the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown with no time left on the clock.
Florida Tech then got a big drive to start the second half as the Panthers drove 57 yards in seven plays and scored on a six-yard plunge by Diliello. It was the freshman’s ninth rushing touchdown this season and tied the game at 14-14 with 11:53 to go in the third quarter.
However, MC answered quickly as Detric Hawthorn found Rotenberry for a 66-yard touchdown on a third down play to put the Choctaws back ahead 20-14. Tyrone Cromwell broke through and blocked the point-after attempt to keep the margin at six with 10:14 to go in the third.
Following an interception by Diliello at the FT46, the Choctaws scored again on a two-yard quarterback run by Hawthorn. MC then converted the two-point play and made it a 28-14 game with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
Another turnover for the Choctaws’ defense, as they forced and recovered a fumble by Trent Chmelik, who entered the game for Diliello, set up MC on the Panthers’ 25-yard line. Mississippi College would find pay-dirt again, scoring on a fourth down and five from the FT20 to push its lead to 34-14. On the point-after attempt, Cromwell jetted into the back field, again, and blocked his second extra point of the night.
A third interception of the night by Diliello and a turnover on downs summed up the Panthers’ final two drives of the night and the Choctaws were able to run the final seven minutes off the clock and earn their first ever victory over Florida Tech.
Diliello completed 8-of-18 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, in addition to collecting 26 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Chmelik went just 1-of-2 for six passing yards and a fumble.
Corey Lane was Tech’s top rusher with 39 yards on eight carries. Daniel Richardson rushed five times for nine yards.
McGhee finished as the top receiver for the Panthers with five catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Brian Spurgeon, Jr. hauled in three passes for 72 yards while Miles Kelly had just one catch for nine yards.
Defensively, Florida Tech was led by Malachi Timberlake who had a game-high eight tackles, including seven solo stops and two tackles for loss. Evan Thompson had seven tackles and two tackles for loss. Marquise Lewis also had seven tackles in the game, which put him over the century mark for his career with 106 total tackles. Cromwell tallied two tackles and set a new school-record with two blocked kicks against the Choctaws.
Florida Tech will now look to rebound from a second straight loss but it will not be easy as the Panthers are set to travel to Georgia next Saturday for a matchup with defending NCAA Champion, No. 1 Valdosta State. Kickoff between the Panthers and Blazers is set for 3 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
For the latest news, updates and information on the Florida Tech football team, visit FloridaTechSports.com.
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