Florida Tech Panthers to Play Top-Ranked Valdosta State Saturday, Kickoff Moved to 7 p.m.
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Sports // October 19, 2019
Florida Tech's third all-time matchup against a No. 1-ranked opponent
VALDOSTA, GEORGIA – The Florida Tech football team is set for its toughest battle of the season Saturday as the Panthers travel to Valdosta, Georgia to take on the defending NCAA Champion and No. 1-ranked Valdosta State Blazers.
With the threat of inclement weather forecast for much of the day Saturday, VSU officials have moved the game to 7 p.m. Saturday evening at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Florida Tech will look to bounce back from consecutive losses the past two weeks to Fort Valley State and Mississippi College, but it will not be easy against a Blazers’ program that the Panthers have struggled against in the past.
This will be Florida Tech’s third all-time matchup against a No. 1-ranked opponent.
The Panthers fell to top-ranked Valdosta State, 52-14, in 2013 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium before defeating No. 1 West Georgia, 28-26, in 2015 at Panther Stadium.
Overall, Florida Tech is 20-20 all-time in road games, including an 8-13 mark in the GSC
INSIDE THE SERIES
Despite West Florida being a natural rival with both Tech and UWF existing in the Sunshine State, Valdosta State is actually the Panthers’ closest geographical rival with about 288 miles separating the schools.
Florida Tech is more than 518 miles away from West Florida.
Florida Tech is 1-5 all-time against Valdosta State, which is the worst head-to-head record for the Panthers versus any GSC opponent. Tech’s lone win in the series came in a 38-20 home win on Oct. 29, 2016, at Panther Stadium.
The Blazers are the only GSC team that Florida Tech has never beaten on their home field. The Blazers are 3-0 when hosting the Panthers at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Over those three games, the Crimson & Gray have been outscored 133-49. In all six meetings, VSU holds a 235-137 scoring disparity over Tech.
MEET THE PANTHERS
Steve Englehart is in his seventh year as head coach of the Panther program and owns a 42-32 record at Florida Tech. He has guided the Crimson & Gray to a 3-1 road record this season.
Florida Tech is fifth in the GSC in total offense at 401.5 yards per game. The Panthers are second in the league in passing offense at 262.0 yards per game and are eighth in rushing offense (139.5).
Mike Diliello has completed 56.9% of his pass attempts for 1,025 yards and five touchdowns and five interceptions. Diliello is also Tech’s leading rusher with 341 total yards and is tied atop the GSC with nine rushing touchdowns. Corey Lane is the next leading rusher with 148 yards.
Drezyn Parson has 137 yards and a touchdown, while Daniel Richardson has recorded 136 yards and three touchdowns.
Miles Kelly leads the GSC with 447 receiving yards on 20 receptions this season. Kelly is joined by Damien McGhee, Brian Spurgeon, Jr. and Simon Williams as Panthers with double-digit receptions and at least 100 receiving yards.
Evan Thompson paces the defense with 44 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. Thompson also has 1.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble this season. John McClure is next with 39 tackles and Marquise Lewis has 35 stops.
Patrick Banks boasts a stat-line of 32 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss while newcomer Scott Arnold has 4.0 tackles for loss this season. Tyrone Cromwell leads Tech with seven pass break-ups and two interceptions, including a pick-6 versus Fort Valley State that he took 96 yards to the house.
MEET THE BLAZERS
Valdosta State, the defending NCAA Division II and GSC Champions, are coached by former Blazer Gary Goff who is in his first year with the team. He has led VSU to a 6-0 record this season and a 4-0 mark in the conference. The Blazers have dominated at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium this season as they hold a record of 3-0 and average 44.67 points per game.
Returning GSC Player of the Year, Rogan Wells, is behind center for the Blazers. Wells is completing a GSC-best 76.4% of his pass attempts this season while throwing for 1,230 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. He boasts an efficiency rating of 172.0.
VSU has three players who rank in the top seven in the league in rushing yards, led by Jamar Thompkins who has a GSC-best 605 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. Seth McGill is fifth in the conference with 355 yards and four touchdowns while Wells has 339 yards and four touchdowns.
Brian Saunds is VSU’s top receiver with 26 receptions for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Lio’undre Gallimore is next with 21 catches for 328 yards and three touchdowns. There are six Blazers who have hauled in at least 12 receptions this season.
On defense, Cory Roberts leads the way with 31 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions. Mondrell Jefferson has 30 tackles and two tackles for loss while Stephon Williams boasts 29 tackles and three tackles for loss. Thomas Incoom has recorded 19 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.