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Panthers Pummel Wolves in Home Opener

Mike Diliello Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

The Florida Tech Panthers scored on their second play from scrimmage Saturday and they never took their foot off the gas, beating West Georgia 44-10 at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

Quarterback Mike Diliello made his second start in place of injured starter Trent Chmelik, and all he did was pass for 197 yards, and rush for 94, accounting for four of the Panthers touchdowns.

“What else can you say, he’s really been amazing,” said Panthers head coach Steve Englehart of Diliello. “For a freshman quarterback to come in there and do the things that he’s doing… he’s poised and he’s tough.”

The Panthers had 510 total yards in this game, with 66 coming on the Panthers second offensive play when Dreyzyn Parson went the distance just 56 seconds into the game. That put Florida Tech up 6-0.

The Panthers (3-1) would go up 13-0 on their next possession, thanks to Diliello’s first rushing touchdown of the game. His nine-yard scamper finished a 12-play 80-yard drive.

After West Georgia scored to make it 13-7, the Panthers opened the second quarter with a 2-yard run by Daniel Richardson, making it a 20-7 game with 13:38 left in the first half.

The Wolves would counter with a field goal on their next drive, only to see the Panthers take seven plays to put it in the end zone again. Corey Lane had rushes of 21 and 13 yards, and Diliello rushed for 13 and 17 yards, before Damien McGhee’s six-yard catch to go up 27-10, taking 1:54 off the clock.

The Panthers were driving again on their next possession, but the Wolves defense forced Diliello to fumble at the one-yard line. Florida Tech would get the ball back quickly on an Evan Thompson interception, only to see Diliello throw one of his own two plays later, and the Panthers would go to the locker room up 17.

West Georgia (2-2) would cough it up on their first possession of the second half, with Thierry Lafortune forcing the fumble at the West Georgia 26. Eight plays later Diliello would find McGhee from six yards out and the Panthers lead was 34-10 with 8:59 left in the third.

After forcing another Wolves punt, Florida Tech would need six plays to go 53 yards, with Diliello calling his own number from five yards out, making it 41-10. Trey Schaneville would hit a 31-yard field goal with 3:37 to go in the game to cap the scoring for the Panthers.

“We don’t have stars on this team,” said Englehart. “We’re better as a team than we are as individuals, and our team has bought into that.”

Overall, I just thought it was a really good performance,” he continued. “I can’t say that there was a position that played poorly.”

For more info: West Georgia @ Florida Tech Box Score

The crowd was a big factor in this game as well, and that did not go unnoticed by coach Englehart.

“Can’t say enough about the crowd, Brevard County coming out and supporting us,” he said. “The energy was great in the stadium and our guys really grasped a hold of that energy, and I thought played with that all night.

The expectation will be for more of the same next Saturday when the Panthers host Fort Valley State in their final non-conference game of the season. That game will kick off at 7:00 p.m.

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