On the 67th play of the Florida Tech Football spring game, quarterback Trent Chmelik found Brian Spurgeon, Jr, with a 38-yard touchdown pass, propelling the Crimson offense to a 30-25 win over the Gray defense.
The defense started with a 25-0 lead and the offense had 75 plays to overcome the deficit. Chmelik had a bit of trouble out of the gate, getting sacked three times in his first couple drives.
“I definitely started off slow, really couldn’t get into a rhythm with things,” Chmelik said after the game. “Just struggling identifying certain things our defense was giving us.”
Brandon Ziarno took the next drive under center and led the offense down the field. highlighted by a nice pass to Damien McGhee, setting up a 41-yard field goal from kicker Zachary Leatherman and making it a 25-3 game.
“The defense started out extremely strong, forced three-and-outs all over the place,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “Until we got a little movement and got our first field goal on offense.”
Chmelik was greeted rudely on his next trip out, getting picked off by Dezmond Morgan, a freshman linebacker. Ziarno came out and orchestrated one more drive, which was run heavy but did feature a short pass to running back Antwuan Haynes that ended with him hurdling over a defender.
Ziarno had some nice runs earlier in the game and showed off his wheels on that drive as well, but he did suffer a shoulder injury on that drive and did not return.
“I thought Brandon played really well,” said Englehart. “I think he was playing the best up until the point he got hurt.” Englehart did not elaborate at all on the Ziarno injury.
The next possession ended with Chmelik running the ball in for a touchdown, making it a 25-10 game. With 34 of the 75 scheduled plays left, both sides took a bit of a break. The offense didn’t take long to get on the board again.
Running back John Padgett was featured on a nice drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run and a 25-17 score.
“I really just tried to turn it around in the second half and finish off strong,” said Chmelik. When asked by Alan Zlotorzynski of Space Coast Daily if he wanted to be the starting quarterback of this team, Chmelik made no bones about it.
“I feel like it’s my duty, it’s what I gotta do,” he said. “I’m trying to prove any doubters wrong and I’m trying to do that by really working hard and showing my work ethic.”
With the injury to Ziarno, quarterback Jordan Johnson got to show what he could do on the next drive and he did just that, showing nice touch on a deep ball to McGhee, who went up and got it for the touchdown, bringing the Crimson to within one, 25-24.
McGhee, a transfer from Presbyterian College was asked how life at Florida Tech was treating him, he was quick to answer. “It’s good right now, scoring touchdowns, we just good,” he said. Don’t be surprised to see him score a bunch more when the season gets going in September.
The final drive was led by Chmelik, who found Spurgeon for the game-winning score, giving the offense the 30-25 win with eight plays to spare.
“I think later on, especially in that second half, it was a matter of that defense kind of getting worn down because of the depth,” Englehart said. “Our depth’s not really strong right now and we’re gonna have to rely on some of these freshmen, we’re bringing some pretty good players.”
The season gets underway September 1, with a road game against Benedict College, in Columbia S.C. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.