It was a record-setting day for the Florida Tech football program on Saturday, as they got a crucial Gulf South Conference win over the North Greenville Crusaders, 37-7 at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.
The Florida Tech defense forced five turnovers, including two on the first two North Greenville plays of the game
“It was obviously a good win against a good team,” said Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart. “I didn’t anticipate a 30-point win, just got off to a real fast start. Obviously, defense gets two turnovers on the first two plays they’re out there, we were able to turn those into field goals and unfortunately, not get the touchdowns out of them.”
Antwuan Haynes needed eight yards to eclipse the all-time rushing record and he did that on the first play of the Panthers third possession, as he rushed for seven yards, adding to the seven he got in the first drive and with that, became the all-time leading rusher at Florida Tech.
Haynes finished with 88 yards on 22 carries and now has 3,361 yards in his four years. He will add to that with one regular season game left and hopefully a berth in the playoffs.
“Antwuan has been such an unbelievable young man for us for four years,” said Englehart. “Never been late to a single thing, has never been in trouble one time, has never complained about the o-line not blocking or him not getting the ball, not one time in four years. He’s just a great teammate, he works hard, he’s a
North Greenville started with the ball, but fumbled on their first offensive play. Mr. everything on defense, J.T. Hassell caused the fumble and recovered the fumble. The Panthers turned that into three points, as Trey Schaneville kicked a 37-yard field goal with 12:16 left in the first quarter.
Hassell would also get credit for his second tackle, early in the first quarter and with that, set the single-season record for tackles with 100. He would finish the game with five tackles, giving him 103. No doubt he will add to that over the next couple weeks.
It wouldn’t take long for the Panthers to add to that lead, as the defense forced Crusaders quarterback Donnie Baker into a bad read and it resulted in an interception for Dezmond Morgan at the 27. The Panthers settled for a 42-yard field goal from Schaneville and that made it 6-0 3:48 into the game.
It was a rough day for Baker, who was playing for Will Hunter, who was a late scratch. Baker finished the day 12-for-30 for 110 yards. It really wouldn’t have mattered if Hunter was in there or not, as the Panthers offense started clicking, after settling for those two field goals.
Florida Tech (7-3, 4-3 GSC) went on a 13-play 55-yard drive on their next possession, capped off by a one-yard run by quarterback Trent Chmelik, giving the Panthers a13-0 lead with 2:54 to go in the first quarter.
Daniel Welch would intercept Baker on the third play of the next drive, setting the Panthers up at the NGU 28. It took two 14-yard completions, the first to Damien McGhee and the scoring play to Romell Guerrier to put the Panthers up 20-0, with 1:27 still showing on the first quarter clock.
The Crusaders (4-5, 3-4) looked to be putting together a decent drive, but on the 13th play, Baker was picked off by Karenz Stephens at the Panthers 16-yard line, and ending a North Greenville drive that took 6:56 off the clock.
Florida Tech would make the Crusaders pay again, with Chmelik throwing a flea flicker to a wide open Guerrier, who took it 57 yards for the score and put the Panthers up 27-0.
Englehart said the flea flicker was supposed to be the first play of the game, but the defense got the turnover and they weren’t able to run it. He decided to use it in the second quarter and it hit big. When all was said and done, that finished off a six-play, 84-yard drive.
You can hear Englehart explain the play in more detail in Alan Zlotorsynski’s video at the top of the page.
Guerrier would finish the day with four catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
Florida Tech would force a punt on the next NGU possession and Chmelik and the Panthers would get the ball back with 2:30 left in the half. Brian Spurgeon would catch a 16-yard pass and McGhee would get one for 17 yards. The Panthers would also be helped by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, one of many these teams would see on this day.
All that gave Schaneville another crack at a field goal and he was good from 27 yards out on his third field goal of the day, giving the Panthers a 30-0 lead with 16 seconds to go in the half.
That field goal was significant, as it gave Schaneville 13 field goals this season, setting a new Florida Tech single-season record, and he did it as a freshman.
“How good has Trey Schaneville been all year, but really these last three weeks?” Englehart said. “Three weeks in a row he has three field goals, so he was able to get us off to a six-point lead and then the offense got rolling.”
Schaneville was asked after the game what it meant to him to break that record.
“First of all, I just wanna thank Daniel Welch, great holder, long-snapper David and my kicking coach Ethan Sansoni,” he said. It means a lot, coming in as a freshman, it means a lot to break the record.
North Greenville finally got on the board in the third, helped by a blocked punt at their Panthers 41. It took eight plays, but E.J. Humphrey finally got his team on the board with 9:34 to go in the quarter, making it 30-7.
The Panthers were forced to punt on their next possession, but after forcing a North Greenville punt, Chmelik led the Panthers on a 10-play, 71-yard drive, culminating in an 11-yard touchdown for Terrance Bynum.
Chmelik completed 13-of-18 passes for 178 yards, including three touchdowns and one interception. The pick came on a tipped ball, on the drive following Dez Morgan’s second interception of the day, to start the fourth quarter. He would give way to Nick Holm late in the final stanza.
For more info: North Greenville @ Florida Tech Box Score
Next up for the Panthers is their regular season finale against the Shorter Hawks next Saturday.
“We gotta play fundamentally sound, we gotta play fundamentally better and if we play great fundamental football and go in there and play hard and execute, then I think we’ll get the result that we want.”
Shorter lost to North Alabama Saturday, 41-14. The loss dropped them to 0-10 overall and 0-7 in the conference. The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. in Rome, GA. Jerry Durney and Alfredo Muente will have the call on WFIT 89.5 and WFIT.org