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October 5, 2013

Valdosta State hits 4-0, defeats Florida Tech on Homecoming

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State Blazers move to 4-0 on the season after a decisive 52-14 victory over new Gulf South Conference member, the Florida Tech Panthers.

The game was a good one for the Blazer defense, who contributed to two touchdown scores for the team. Linebacker Jeremy Grable returned his first career interception for a touchdown in the third quarter and ended the game with four total tackles.

“It felt good. It was my first interception ever and to take that back to the crib was exciting,” said linebacker Jeremy Grable.

Defensive end Tevin Davis had a 52 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter to put VSU up by 17 before halftime. Defensive back Kenny Murphy added an interception, giving the Blazer defense a total of three turnovers.

“Our defense played really well. Their offense game out doing some things we did not expect them to do, like running screens, but they actually tried to run the ball on us,” said Grable.

“Anytime your defense can score for you, it’s always a help. Usually it helps your offense but it didn’t help us today. Our offense played pretty lethargic in the first half, and that’s something that is inexcusable,” said Blazer Head Coach David Dean.

On offense, the Blazers did not get much first half production, only gaining 71 combined yards going into halftime. In the second half however, the running back duo of Austin Scott and Cedric O’ Neal brought the Blazers to life again, scoring a combined three touchdowns and rushing for 220 yards.

O’ Neal had seven carries for 97 yards and one touchdown, while Austin Scott rushed six times for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

“I feel good about the running game. I feel like we played poorly in the first half, but came out in the second half and played like the old Valdosta,” said running back Cedric O’ Neal.

When asked about what adjustments were made in the second half, stopping penalties and offensive production were at the top of the list.

“The adjustment we made (at the half) was to wake up. The offense knew we came out flat and corrected it in the second half,” said O’ Neal.

Coach David Dean went on to say that the game was “a tale of two halves”.

“It was a tale of two halves. When we took the opening punt for a touchdown and put a drive together for a field goal, I think our offense lost a bit of focus and that is disappointing. But on the flip side, we got it together in the second half; eliminating penalties and mistakes,” said Coach Dean.

Cayden Cochran was 14 of 27 for 127 yards with one interception. Cochran was sacked five times in the game.

“We ran some wrong routes and when that happens, the quarterback looks for someone to throw the ball to and no one is there. Some sacks were the o-line’s fault but others, no one was open,” added Dean.

The team was without receiver Regginald Lewis for the game, and it was apparent how much the team missed Lewis in the passing attack.

“We missed him a lot. He is a team captain and offensive leader for our team and whenever you have adversity, the team looks towards the leader and he was unable to play,” stated Dean. “I will say that he did a very good job at the half talking to our guys and was vocal leader on the sideline. I hope we can get him back for this week.”

The team has a short week to prepare before they travel to Livingston, Ala. on Oct. 10 to face the West Alabama Tigers at 7:30 p.m.

 “We have to cram six days into three. We have a tremendous amount of work to do as coaches, and the players will have a quick recovery time before the next game,” said Dean.

The game will be the GSC- Game of the Week and will be available for television viewing.

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