The Florida Tech football team did their part on Saturday in their chase for a playoff berth, beating Shorter handily 55-7 in the regular season finale for both teams. The loss gave the Hawks their third straight winless season and took their losing streak to 39 games overall.
“I thought we did really well,” said Panthers head coach Steve Englehart in his postgame interview with Jerry Durney and Alfredo Muente on WFIT. “I thought we did a nice job moving the ball and made some third-down catches. It was a good all-around performance from our guys, and this is the way we wanna finish.”
Shorter (0-11, 0-8 GSC) had eight first downs in the game, five of them came on the last drive, including one by penalty. That was the only drive that resulted in points for the home team.
The Panthers jumped on the Hawks early and often, setting a new record for points scored in a single game. The old record was 54 in a game against Stetson back in 2014.
There were many glaring statistical differences in this game, including the Panthers holding Shorter to zero yards on 26 rushing attempts. On the flip side, the Panthers had 241 yards rushing, including 101 by Antwuan Haynes on 12 carries, all in the first half.
Shorter went three-and-out on their opening drive but got a second chance when Bradley Kirk intercepted Panthers quarterback Trent Chmelik, only to see that drive stall.
That’s when Florida Tech’s offense kicked it into gear. A 23-yard field goal by Trey Schaneville got the Panthers on the board with 7:15 to go in the first. After Shorter ended their next drive with -5 yards, the punter was unable to handle the snap and the Panthers were in business at the SU 20.
After an early penalty, Chmelik found Romell Guerrier for 23 yards and a touchdown, making it 10-0, with 3:30 left. With that touchdown reception, Guerrier set the single-season record for receiving touchdowns by a Panther, with 12.
“Romell has had a great year,” said Englehart. “Happy for Romell cause obviously, he had the injury two years ago and he’s battled back.”
Guerrier would play just the first half, as many of the Florida Tech starters did, due to the lopsided score. He caught five balls for 98 yards.
Another record would fall on the Panthers next drive as Haynes would have rushes of 24, 18, and three yards, capping the drive with a four-yard scamper into the end zone. It was fitting that Haynes get that Haynes got that many touches on the drive, because with that touchdown, he became the all-time touchdown leader at Florida Tech, breaking the record of 24, previously held by Mark Cato. With that, the Panthers led 17-0 with 14:28 to go in the half.
“What can you say about Antwuan,” said Englehart. “I thought he ran really good, and tough. He was really seeing the holes and for him to get that touchdown and break the school record, I know it meant a lot to him and meant a lot to everyone on the sidelines.”
Shorter would punt again, and the Panthers would again make them pay, as David Bryant would score from eight yards out on a pass from Chmelik, capping a 10-play, 66-yard drive and giving the Panthers a 24-0 lead with 7:33 left before half.
Shorter would again punt on their next drive and it would go only 10 yards, setting the Panthers up at the Shorter 30. It took two plays for the Panthers to capitalize, as Chmelik found Simon Williams with about a 10-yard dump off and Williams took it the rest of the way, giving the Panthers a 31-0 lead. The drive took just 37 seconds.
The Hawks would gain just one yard on their next drive, resulting in another punt. Nick Holm took over at quarterback for the Panthers with 5:25 left in the first half. Chmelik would finish the day 12-of-17 for 157 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick.
The Panthers were forced to punt for the first time all day on Holm’s first drive, but he would make up for it on the next one, hooking up with Guerrier on a 47-yard completion and then finding Terrance Bynum in the end zone with a seven-yard pass. The Panthers led 38-0 at that point, with nine seconds left in the half. It was the first touchdown pass for Holm in his Florida Tech career.
Shorter ran 32 plays in that first half and had 10 yards total. They had -30 yards rushing in the half, while the Panthers had 127.
Holm picked up right where he left off when the Panthers got the ball to start the second half. He found Damien McGhee from 22 yards out, on a drive that took only five plays and put the Panthers up 45-0 with 11:17 to go in the third. This drive also featured a one-yard rush by Panthers all-world defensive star, Adonis Davis.
Panthers running back John Padgett saw action on the next drive, with runs of 17 and five yards. The end result was another Schaneville field goal from 24 yards out with 6:18 left in the third, putting the Panthers up 48-0.
The Panthers last touchdown of the day would come on their next drive, when Austin Evarts finished a 12-play, 62-yard drive with an eight-yard run. That made the score 54-0 and the extra point by Schaneville gave the Panthers the single-game points record with 12:04 left in the game.
The Hawks would finally get on the board with their next possession, covering 83 yards in 10 plays and ending with a Kartez Carr one-yard touchdown, with just 41 seconds left. The Panthers would run in out from there, and score their eighth win of the season and fifth in the Gulf South Conference.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Shorter Box Score
The Panthers playoff spot is not guaranteed just yet. They will find out on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. if they are in the playoffs when the NCAA Selection Show takes place. The show will be streamed at NCAA.com.
“I don’t know how you keep an 8-3 team out who was sixth in the region last week,” said Englehart. “We had three losses, to two undefeated teams and the other one was on the road to a West Alabama team that is fifth in the region right now. I’d love to see what this team could do if we get in, and I’m hoping we do.”