UNIVERSITY CENTER, MIch. — It happened again.
After three-straight final-minute losses to closeout the 2011 season, the Valdosta State football team lost another heartbreaker Saturday to open its 2012 season.
The Blazers allowed a game-winning 27-yard touchdown pass from Saginaw Valley State quarterback Jonathon Jennings to Michael Albrecht with 1:01 remaining to fall to the Cardinals, 28-24.
The loss is the fourth straight for Valdosta State, dating back to the end of last season. All four game-winning touchdowns scored by the opposing teams came with a combined 2 minutes and 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Saturday’s 1:01 was the largest margin of time remaining in a game.
“We are pretty frustrated right now, because we worked hard,” said linebacker Chris Pope, who led the Blazers with 16 total tackles. “This isn’t where we intended to be, but I promise we will be back.”
VSU’s four-game losing streak is the longest since the 1990 season, when the Blazers dropped the final four games of the regular season to finish with a 5-5 record.
“There is tremendous amount of disappointment,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “Everybody is kind of in shock, ‘how could this happen again?’ But the real leadership, I think you’ll find on the rest of this trip home and (Sunday) when we get back together and watch film and get in the weight room and start preparing for Fort Valley State.”
Following Saginaw Valley’s go-ahead touchdown with 1:01 remaining, the Blazers had a final chance, but fell short. A solid kickoff return by Matt Pierce positioned the Blazers at the 46-yard line. A 19-yard pass from quarterback Graham Craig, who entered the game in the third quarter for starter Cayden Cochran, to Gerald Ford put the Blazers down to the Cardinal 35.
Then Craig was sacked, followed by an overthrown pass to Ford, setting up a third and 15 for the Blazers, which was nearly intercepted by a Cardinal defender. On the Blazers’ final chance, a fourth and 15, Craig’s pass went threw the outstretched arms of Regginald Lewis in the end zone.