Football Weekly Preview: The Florida Tech Game

| October 27, 2016

vsu-football-2016

VALDOSTA – The rivalry between the Valdosta State Blazers and the Florida Tech Panthers has evolved into another key rivalry in the Gulf South Conference, primarily due to the league and national implications that the contest has held in each of the three previous matchups between the two programs.

Last season, Valdosta State welcomed the Panthers to TitleTown late in the regular season for what essentially served as a play-in game for the 2015 Division II Playoffs. This year, in week nine of the 2016 schedule, the matchup holds nearly as much weight, as both the Panthers and the Blazers begin a final push for postseason play as two regionally ranked teams in the Super Region Two rankings.

The Blazers enter Saturday’s matchup fresh off the heels of a convincing 56-27 win over Delta State last Saturday. The impressive performance by Valdosta State catapulted the Blazers up to a No. 14 ranking in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll, and placed VSU second overall among Super Region Two teams in this week’s opening round of regional rankings.

The Panthers, who also found a place in the Super Region Two rankings at the No. 9 position, are looking to rebound from a turnover laden 35-45 defeat at the hands of the West Alabama Tigers last weekend in Livingston, Ala. In order to keep Florida Tech on the ropes, the Blazers will need to slow the Panthers’ running game, which currently ranks first in the conference in rushing yards per game with 198.9. Antwuan Haynes is a primary reason for FIT’s rushing success with 512 rushing yards this season and an average of 73.1 yards per game.

As for the Blazers, Valdosta State continues to rack up significant passing yards and currently ranks second in the league with an average of 328.6 yards per game. Individually, Roland Rivers and Adam Robles have split the load evenly. Both have exceeded 1,000 passing yards and only one yard separates the duo’s average yards per game. Rivers is averaging 177.6 yards per game, and Robles is averaging 176.2 yards per game.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., with live audio provided at www.talk921.com and a live video stream, courtesy of ESPN3. Links for all forms of coverage are available below and on the main event page at www.vstateblazers.com.

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