Valdosta State (5-0, 3-0) opened the scoring on its first drive as the Blazers marched 71 yards in 13 plays. Willie Copeland completed nine-of-11 passes on the drive, including a 22-yard pass to R.J. Bastone on a third-and-15 play that kept the drive alive. Facing a third and goal from the four, Copeland hooked up with Cedric Jones for a scoring toss to give the Blazers a 7-0 lead.
Southern Arkansas (2-4, 1-3) quickly answered as it scored on its first play from scrimmage. Clarence Wright returned the kick to the SAU 41 yard line before Steven Ashley broke through the right-side of the line for a 59-yard run for a score, tying the game at 7-7.
VSU regained the lead on its next drive with a 38-yard field goal from Zac Williams. The key play of the drive came on a third-and-13 play from the Blazer 38-yard line as Copeland hooked up with Thomas Arnold on a screen play that picked up 42 yards, moving the Blazers to the SAU 30.
A Mulerider fumble set up Valdosta State's next score as Fabian Whylly recovered the ball on the Southern Arkansas 13-yard line. The Blazers closed to as close as the four before a holding penalty and an intentional grounding backed the ball to the SAU 28. A screen pass on third down closed the Blazers to the SAU 17, setting up a 34-yard field by Williams for a 13-7 VSU lead.
Valdosta State upped its lead to 20-7 on its first drive of the second half. Zach Parker set up the score as he caught a short screen, dodged a tackle and raced 63-yards down the sideline to the Southern Arkansas 5-yard line. On the next play, Copeland hooked up with Cedric Evans on a slant for the touchdown.
After a Sherard Reynolds fumble on a punt return gave Southern Arkansas the ball on the VSU 26-yard line, Shawn Harris picked off a pass and raced 86 yards for a touchdown to push the Blazer lead to 27-7.
Southern Arkansas cut its deficit to 13 points at 27-14 with a 15-play, 77-yard drive that covered 6:32 of game time during the third and fourth quarters. Chris Metcalf garnered the score when he plunged in from one-yard out with 14:16 to go in the game. The touchdown marked the first points Valdosta State had allowed in the fourth quarter this season.
The Muleriders further cut into their deficit on their next drive as they capitalized on a VSU fumble. SAU took over on its own 42-yard line and moved to the VSU 32 before Josh SanFillipo hooked up with Mario Coleman for a score, cutting the Valdosta State lead to 27-20 with 9:23 to go in the contest.
The final nine minutes of the game saw VSU turn over the ball once and Southern Arkansas twice, including once inside the Blazer 20-yard line with 4:14 to play in the game.
Valdosta State took over on the fumble and moved to the SAU 40 before turning the ball over on downs. On Southern Arkansas' first play from scrimmage, Jamaal Clark intercepted a SanFillipo pass and returned it 45 yards for a score and a 33-21 lead. A two-point try was unsuccessful, establishing the final margin of victory.
Copeland completed 28-of-43 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Parker caught four passes for 81 yards while Jones tallied eight receptions and 58 yards. The Blazer defense registered four interceptions and 166 yards in return yards, but was hampered by 11 penalties for 125 yards. Overall, VSU tallied seven turnovers in the game.
Ashley carried the ball 10 times for 90 yards in the game while SanFillipo passed for 192 yards. The Muleriders picked up 363 yards of total offense while holding VSU to a season-low 311 yards.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, October 11 when it hosts Delta State at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on CSS, CoxSports and by MediaCom in the Valdosta area as part of the GSC TV "Game of the Week" package.