The Valdosta Daily Times
When another running back got injured in the first quarter on Saturday night, David Bailey knew he needed to step up for his team. And he did.
Bailey rushed for 146 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries, and led fifth-ranked Valdosta State to a 38-21 victory over Southern Arkansas on Saturday at Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
It was the most rushing yards in one game by a Valdosta State running back since 2007.
“I thought he played excellent football,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “He broke a lot of tackles, and that’s what we ask our running backs to do a lot. ... I thought he ran the ball with a lot of heart and with reckless abandon, and I was awfully proud of the way that he played tonight. They loaded up the box against us a good bit, but he was able to break those tackles.”
“It was just my line and (fullback) Cameo Holloway. They were just blowing guys out of the way. I can’t take credit for that. I was just running through the holes, and they were blocking everybody for me. It was a good team effort on the night,” Bailey said after the game.
For his performance, Bailey has been chosen The Valdosta Daily Times’ Player of the Week.
Late in the first quarter, fellow running back Theseus Jackson was injured at the end of an 11-yard run. With his backfield mate on the sideline, Bailey knew the Blazers would be relying on him even more.
“When (Theseus) got hurt, that kind of made me mad,” Bailey said. “Theseus has been doing a real good job. We’re like buddies back there. We’re not selfish. I just felt like I had to pick up the slack for him tonight.”
“He understands what we have to do to be successful, and he knows he and Theseus split a lot of time and do a lot of things together. So for him to jump up and shoulder that load when Theseus went down, I thought that showed a lot of maturity on his part,” Dean said. “And I thought it was a great job by our offensive line.”
After Southern Arkansas tied the score at 7-7, Valdosta State got the ball at its own 36-yard line. Bailey gained five yards on the first play. Then he got the ball again on second-and-5 from the VSU 41.
Bailey took the handoff from quarterback Austen Roberts. The Blazers’ offensive linemen made their blocks, gave him room to run and Bailey did the rest. He got into the open field, broke four tackles and raced 59 yards for a touchdown, giving his team a 14-7 lead. It was the longest run of his Blazer career.
“The line opened up the hole, Cameo got a good block and I just ran (through the hole), made one guy miss and (then I had) a touchdown,” Bailey said.
“What a great run,” Dean said. “He just kept breaking tackle after tackle. The big thing was he broke through the line untouched, and then it was up to him to make all the moves down the field, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Early in the third quarter, Bailey’s 31-yard run, down to the Muleriders’ 19-yard line, helped set up a 23-yard field goal by Daniel Andersen. Bailey also had several other runs throughout the night that helped the Blazers move the ball down the field.
Bailey’s performance helped Valdosta State improve to 4-0 this season.
“We’re 4-0. That’s pretty good,” he said. “It’s still early in the season. We’ve got a lot of work we’ve got to do. Our goal is a national championship. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close. So we’re just trying to keep pushing.”
Bailey currently leads the Blazers with 233 yards rushing, and is tied for the team lead with two rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
This Saturday, Bailey and the Blazers will face Arkansas-Monticello at 7 p.m. in Monticello, Ark.