FLORENCE, Ala. - The Valdosta State defense turned in one of its greatest performances in school history as the No. 19 Blazers shut-out No. 3 North Alabama 5-0 in Gulf South Conference football action at Braly Stadium Thursday night.
The Black Swarm allowed just 101 yards of total offense, the 10th-fewest in school history, while allowing the Lions (6-1, 3-1) just six first downs, tied for the fifth-fewest in school history. The shutout marked the first time that UNA was held scoreless since losing to West Georgia 49-0 on November 3, 2001, a streak of 107 straight games. The Lions were held scoreless at home for the first time since October 4, 1997, a 21-0 loss to VSU, a streak of 76 games. The dominating performance by the Valdosta State defense allowed the Blazers to own a 40:03 to 19:57 advantage in time of possession in the game.
Valdosta State (5-1, 3-1) got on the board first as its defense tallied a safety on the second North Alabama series of the game. The Blazers tallied three consecutive sacks on the Lions’ first possession of the game and the VSU offense drove to the UNA 33 before being forced to punt. The punt was downed on the UNA 2 and a false start backed the ball up to the Lion one. After North Alabama quarterback Lee Chapple picked up a yard on a rush, he fumbled the next snap and fell on it in the end zone to put Valdosta State up 2-0.
Defense continued to rule the rest of the first half as North Alabama was held to minus-16 yards of total offense on its first six drives while Valdosta State managed just 97 on its first six. Each defensive unit recorded a fumble recovery, with VSU’s fumble coming on the UNA 5 yard line. The Lions gained 39 yards on their seventh drive to cross midfield for the first time, but was forced to punt after a loss of four on a carry and three incomplete passes.
The first half ended with Valdosta State holding on to its 2-0 lead as the Blazers tallied 120 yards of total offense in the half while North Alabama was held 24 yards total.
The defense struggle continued throughout the third quarter as Valdosta State tallied 90 yards in the frame while the Lions managed 22. North Alabama failed to cross its own 40 yard line during the 15 minute period while running just eight plays.
Valdosta State put together a 13-play, 59-yard, 6:41 second drive late in the fourth quarter to add a field goal to push its advantage to the final score. The drive started with 8:43 remaining in the game and saw Daniel Andersen (Meansville, Ga., Pike County) kick a 36 yard field goal with 2:02 remaining.
North Alabama threatened on its final drive as it picked up 33 yards and two first downs on the possession to move to the VSU 31 yard line, the deepest into Blazer territory that the Lions advanced all game. However, Dudley Spence (Madison, Ga., Morgan County) picked off a Chapple pass on the VSU 14 with 1:16 remaining to preserve the victory. The interception marked the second straight possession in which VSU intercepted a Chapple pass as Harrison Dreiling (Augusta, Kan., Butler CC) picked off the Lion quarterback on the VSU 22 on the previous UNA drive.
Valdosta State finished the game with 262 total yards, including 125 on the ground and 137 through the air. David Bailey (Brunswick, Ga., Glynn Academy) picked up 103 yards on the ground on carries while Austen Roberts (Lake Butler, Fla., Union County) completed 19-of-32 passes for 137 yards in his first career start.
Spence led the VSU defense as he matched his career high with 11 tackles. He also forced a fumble that was recovered by VSU and tallied the interception on the final drive.
Antwan Ivey tallied 35 rushing yards to lead the UNA offense while Harrison Bryant finished with 11 tackles to lead the Lion defense.
Valdosta State returns home to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium next Saturday, October 23 as it continues GSC play against Arkansas-Monticello at 2:00 p.m.
For further information, visit: www.vstateblazers.com