VALDOSTA –– A four-touchdown first half and a second-half defensive shutout delivered Valdosta State football a season-opening win.
The Blazers (1-0) defeated Albany State (0-1) 38-3 in their first road matchup and the first win of the Gary Goff era.
The Blazers scored twice in the first, twice in the second, none in the third and twice in the fourth while the Golden Rams only scored a field goal in the second quarter.
The Black Swarm defense lived up to its name with suffocating play, never allowing ASU the flexibility needed to score a touchdown. The Blazers out-gained the Golden Rams 426-240 in total yards and held them to less than 23 minutes of possession time.
Cory Roberts and Alex Brown both had interceptions in the first half to kill the momentum built by Albany.
Roberts had a notable fall camp and carried his play over into the season. He finished with four tackles, one interception and one pass break-up.
“It was electrifying tonight,” Roberts said. “Everybody played, we had fun, we ran to the ball and played like a family … It’s just love man. Exciting and I’m just glad God put us all here together. I’m glad we came out with the win and it was a great night.”
The Golden Rams offense ran the triple-option for the majority of the game but couldn’t seem to fool the Blazers. Linebacker Nick Moss was the game leader in tackless with nine. While the Blazers weren’t always perfect, they never broke.
“What we did good today was that we didn’t break,” Moss said. “We gave up big yardage sometimes. Let them get into the red zone. But we did not break. We didn’t give up no touchdowns which I’m so happy to see. We’re a very resilient team.”
With the win, the Blazers extend their win streak to 16, dating back to the 2017 season finale against Shorter.
With an undefeated season, conference and national championship in between, the natural thought would be about duplicating that success.
But when asked about the potential of a return to the national championship, Goff said what he’s been saying since fall camp began.
“We’re focused on getting better one meeting at a time, one practice at a time and one game at a time,” Goff said after the Blazers win. “If you do those things you can look down at the very end and see where you want to go. We’re going to enjoy this tonight and then we’ll get ready for Ohio Dominican next week at our place.”
A 35-point road victory opened the season for the Blazers. While the contest didn’t have the flair Blazers fans are typically used to, a win is a win.
“It feels good to win there’s no question about that,” Goff said. “I was concerned because I haven’t been on the field with these guys in a game situation. It’s very hard to simulate game reps but they passed the test tonight. Let’s not kid ourselves. Albany State is going to win a lot of games this year. … I’m happy with this performance but we can’t be content. We’ve got a long way to got to get perfect. We can still improve a whole lot and that’s what is very scary for some people. As long as we’re working every day to improve, we’ve got chance to be as good as we want to be.”
The Blazers will open at home against Ohio Dominican at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium next Saturday at 6 p.m.