Video credit: Alan Zlotorzynski of Space Coast Daily
It was the Rogan Wells show at Florida Tech Panther Stadium on Saturday. The sophomore passed for 211 yards and a touchdown while running for 120 yards and a touchdown, leading Valdosta State to a 51-21 win and ruining the Panthers Homecoming.
Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart, even in defeat, was very complimentary of Wells performance after the game.
“He’s a tough kid. I’ve watched him play over the course of two years, I think he’s a competitor, I think he’s a winner, he’s a kid that’s very poised,” he said. “What probably goes unnoticed the most is his ability to scramble, move around and run the ball. He had a bunch of rushing yards on the day and I would imagine he would be the player of the week again this week.”
The Blazers (7-0, 5-0 GSC) did the bulk of their damage in the first and fourth quarters, putting up 27 points in the final 15 minutes alone.
Panthers quarterback Trent Chmelik did his part, completing 26-of-45 for a career-high 290 yards and one touchdown. He did throw one interception as well.
“Trent’s a tough kid as well, he stands in there, delivers the ball and takes some shots,” Englehart said. “He’ll be sore tomorrow, he took some hits out there, but he’s a composed kid, a leader and does a lot of great things for this offense. He just keeps getting better and better.”
The Panthers offense gained a total of 391 yards, while Valdosta put up 496. The Blazers were 9-for-15 on third down, including 5-for-8 in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense couldn’t get off the field and wasn’t great on third down,” said Englehart. “Our offense couldn’t stop the bleeding, we couldn’t get scores for ourselves. I think we were 0-for-6or 0-for-8 on third down in the first half and couldn’t get a whole lot going.”
Englehart’s 0-for-6 was the right number in that first 30 minutes and the Panthers were just 2-for-11 on third down in the game.
Valdosta scored on their first possession of the contest, despite facing a 3rd-and-6 from their own 29. Wells found Brian Saunds for a 51-yard completion and Jamar Thompkins would take it in from one-yard out later in the drive, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Florida Tech (5-2, 2-2 GSC) moved the ball on their first possession, but the Valdosta defense came up big, stopping Austin Evarts on a 4th-and-1 run and forcing a turnover on downs.
After each team punted on their next possession, VSU started on their own 45. It took just three plays for the Blazers to score, as Wells hooked up with Lio’undre Gallimore for a 38-yard touchdown, making it 14-0.
Wells would cap off an eight play, 60-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown to Kenny Benjamin, with 9:36 to go in the second quarter. They would add a field goal from Andrew Gray on their next possession and VSU led 24-0 with 2:44 left in the half. That would be the spread when the teams went to the locker room for halftime.
The Panthers got on the board late in the third quarter, with Chmelik leading a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Chmelik completed an 11-yard pass to Simon Williams early in the drive, there was a roughing the passer call that took the ball to the VSU 11 and then Chmelik found Damien McGhee with an 11-yard touchdown pass, making it a 24-7 game with 53 seconds left in the third. McGhee finished the day with six catches for 49 yards and that touchdown.
Florida Tech’s defense forced a punt on the next Valdosta possession. The snap to the punter was low and he couldn’t corral it. Williams rushed in, scooped it up and took it 37 yards the other way, closing the gap to 24-14 with 13:35 still to go.
The momentum didn’t stay with Florida Tech long, as Valdosta State put together a nine-play 73-yard drive, capped by Seth McGill’s 12-yard touchdown run, making it 31-14.
The visitors would effectively put the game away on their next possession when Wells ran 48 yards to paydirt on the third play of a drive that took 1:49 off the clock and gave the Blazers a 38-14 lead.
Chmelik would answer on the Panthers next possession. He would complete two of his first three passes to Kenny Hiteman and after an unsportsmanlike call on VSU took the ball to the 39, Chmelik would complete a 12-yard pass to Antwuan Haynes, and on the next play, he hit Romell Guerrier in the end zone from 27 yards out, making it a 38-21 game. The drive was eight plays, covering 86 yards and took 3:09 off the clock.
Guerrier was the leading receiver for the Panthers on this day, catching seven passes for 115 yards. Haynes would finish with 45 yards rushing and had two catches for 15 yards.
Valdosta State had another short field to work with on their next drive and took three plays to score again. This time it was a 22-yard run from Ivory Dunham, making it 45-21.
The Blazers final touchdown of the day came on defense. Chmelik put together a nice drive that included passes of 14 and 18 yards to Guerrier., Another throw to Guerrier resulted in a pass interference call on VSU, putting the ball at the 2-yard line. On the next play, Chmelik was sacked for a loss of three and lost the ball. It was picked up by Aaron Dawson, who rumbled 95 yards for the touchdown, as time expired. With that, the Blazers scored 50 or more points for the sixth time in seven games and kept their undefeated record intact.
For more info: Valdosta State @ Florida Tech Box Score
Florida Tech will travel to Pensacola next Saturday for the third installment of the Coastal Classic, against West Florida. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Jerry Durney and Alfredo Muente will have the radio call on WFIT FM 89.5 and WFIT.org while Alan Zlotorzynski and the crew from Space Coast Daily will be streaming the game on Facebook.