Florida Tech Panthers Lose Heartbreaker To Fort Valley State Wildcats 33-29

By  //  October 6, 2019

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Diliello' Stats: 21-of-35 for 288 yards

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech Football head football coach Steve Englehart speaks after Fort Valley State University defeated the Panthers 33-29 in college football action.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA (Florida Tech) – Turnovers and a failed fourth-and-goal conversion with less than a minute to go sunk Florida Tech in its non-conference matchup with Fort Valley State Saturday evening at Panther Stadium. The Panthers were unable to overcome their struggles and fell to FVSU, 33-29.

The Panthers got off to a fast start and up on the scoreboard early. On the very first play of the game, Mike Diliello connected with Simon Williams for a 55-yard catch and run.

Tech then concluded that opening drive with a 14-yard field goal by Trey Schaneville with 11:04 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers found pay-dirt again near the end of the first quarter as Diliello plowed his way in from one yard out to give Tech a 10-0 lead.

FVSU cut the margin to 10-7 on a 10-yard gallop by Slade Jarmon into the end zone with more than 14 minutes left in the half. It was the first of three rush touchdowns by the Wildcat quarterback Saturday night.

Tech responded with an impressive 28-yard scamper into the end zone by Diliello, which handed the Panthers a 17-7 advantage in the second.

FVSU answered though with consecutive field goals by Eli Mashburn to cut the lead to 17-13 with 1:36 to go in the first half. The Wildcats’ first field goal was a result of a fumble by Diliello at the FVSU 20.

On the ensuing possession, the Panthers drove 36 yards in seven plays and Schaneville capped it off by knocking in a 40-yard field goal with 18 seconds left to give Tech a 20-13 edge at halftime.

The Wildcats’ offense came out with a higher level of intensity than we saw in the first half and made the most of their first possession after halftime. After taking the kickoff, FVSU drove down the field in 10 plays and scored on a 16-yard completion from Jarmon to Jefferey Mack. Mashburn missed the extra point and the score was 20-19 in favor of the Panthers.

Florida Tech punted on its next possession setting FVSU up at their own 47-yard line. The Wildcats went right down the field again and got to the TECH 9 following a pair of big completions by Jarmon.
On second down and goal, Tyrone Cromwell picked off Jarmon inside the 5-yard line and then sped 96 yards for an interception return touchdown. Schaneville had his ensuing extra point blocked and the Panthers carried a 26-19 advantage with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter.

ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily’s Chris Bonanno discusses Florida Tech’s loss to Fort Valley State 33-29 in college football action and other college and high school football action from Saturday.

Cromwell’s return was the second longest defensive touchdown in program history, behind Trai Cadore’s 100-yard pick-six in 2013.

Schaneville bounced back with a 31-yard in the first minute of the fourth to put Tech up 29-19. However, less than four minutes later FVSU countered with a long drive and a three-yard touchdown run by Jarmon to trim the deficit to three with 10:40 to go.

At this point, the Panthers began to have issues protecting the ball, coughing up both an interception and fumble on consecutive possessions and inside their own half of the field.

Three plays after the fumble, Jarmon found the end zone for the third time tonight and gave his Wildcats their first lead of the game, 33-29 with 4:42 left on the clock.

Needing a touchdown, the Panthers began driving down the field on what was their last possession of the game. Diliello started it off strong with a 34-yard run to get down to the FVSU 36. Seven plays later, Tech had a first and goal at the Wildcats’ 10-yard line.

After a loss of yards on a rush, a short completion to Corey Lane and an incompletion to Damien McGhee in the corner of the end zone, Florida Tech found itself at fourth down at the FVSU 12 with 33 seconds remaining and no timeouts.

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Diliello was unable to connect with a receiver in the center of the end zone on the fourth down, and the Panthers turned the ball and the chance at a win over to FVSU, who took a knee and ran out the remainder of the clock.

This marks the first time the Panthers were defeated by a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) opponent.

The loss also snaps a regular season win streak against non-conference Division II teams that dated back to the 2015 season. Tech is now 20-9 all-time against non-GSC foes including a 7-3 record at home.

Florida Tech finished with a slight edge in total yardage (418-398) and time of possession (31:26-28:34). The Panthers turned it over three times in the game and red zone efficiency played a pivotal role in the defeat as Tech went 3-of-5 in the red zone with two turnovers while FVSU finished the contest 6-of-7.

Diliello broke his own quarterback single game rushing record from a week ago with 100 total yards and two touchdowns, the seventh and eighth of his career. The redshirt-freshman also completed 21-of-35 for 288 yards.

Simon Wiliams was one of four Panthers with a game-high four receptions in the game. She was also the leading receiver with 84 yards.

Marquis Lewis led Tech with seven solo tackles. Ian Pittman added six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. In addition to his pick-6, Cromwell also ended the contest with a game-high of 3 pass breakups.

Jeff Zulma had a breakout game for the Panthers, recording three tackles, one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Florida Tech will look to rebound from the setback when the Panthers travel to Clinton, Mississippi to take on GSC opponent Mississippi College. Kickoff between Tech and MC is set for 7 p.m. ET at Robinson-Hale Stadium.

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