VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State stopped a two-point attempt with 1:10 remaining in the game to preserve a 21-19 Gulf South Conference victory over visiting Ouachita Baptist at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium Saturday afternoon.
After blocking a VSU field goal with 6:16 remaining in the contest, OBU (3-2, 1-2) used 13 plays to march 82 yards to score a touchdown on a Eli Cranor 1-yard run with 70 seconds remaining in the contest. After a timeout, the Tigers lined up on the three and Cranor sent a pass in the direction of Travis Anderson at the right pylon. However, VSU’s Harrison Dreiling stepped in front of Anderson before the ball left Cranor’s hand, forcing the Tiger quarterback to overshoot his receiver.
Ouachita Baptist opened the scoring in the first quarter as it recovered a Valdosta State fumble on the Blazers’ 39 yard line. The Tigers were only able to gain 17 yards on six plays before Jason Fowler kicked a 39-yard field.
Valdosta State took the lead for good on the ensuing drive as Ronnye Nelson returned the kickoff 32 yards to the VSU 42. David Arnold picked up three yards on a run and proceeded to catch a Brett Whitmire pass and race 18 more to move the ball to the OBU 37. The Blazers stuck with their junior running back as two more carries by Arnold netted 15 more yards before Whitmire gained nine more on the ground. Cameo Holloway moved VSU to the Ouachita Baptist three with a 10 yard run, but Arnold was dropped for a four-yard loss on the next play. Nelson finished off the drive as he took a snap out of the Wildcat formation and rushed up the middle for seven yards and the score.
Fowler hit a 38 yard field goal with 3:30 remaining in the second quarter to cut Valdosta State’s lead to 7-6 at the half, but VSU responded with two touchdowns in the third quarter to build a 15-point advantage.
After Valdosta State forced an OBU punt on the first possession of the third quarter, Nelson returned the kick 19 yards to move the Blazers to midfield. Whitmire proceeded to find the senior for seven yards on a pass and Nelson picked up two more on the ground before Michael Brown gained six more on a third down carry. Whitmire found Gerald Ford for 13 more years and connected with Wilbert Carter for four yards before completing a pass to Nelson for 10 to move the ball to the OBU 15. Valdosta State once again went to the Wildcat formation and Nelson completed a shovel pass to Holloway, who slipped a tackle and rumbled 15 yards for a 14-6 VSU advantage.
The Blazers scored again on their next drive as they marched 72 yards on 11 plays. The key play of the drive came on a fourth-and-two from the OBU 11 as Daniel Andersen connected on a 28-yard field goal, but Ouachita Baptist was called for a personal foul penalty on the play to give Valdosta State a first and goal on the OBU 6. On the next play, David Bailey rushed off the right end and dove into the end zone to push the Blazer edge to 21-6.
The Tigers quickly got the deficit back to eight points as Cranor completed all four of his passes on the next drive, including a 33-yard completion to Peyton Tolliver for a touchdown with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Nelson led the Blazer offense on the day as he ran the ball eight times for 54 yards and a score while catching four passes for 46 yards. He also completed his only pass for 15 yards and a touchdown while returning four kickoffs for a total of 100 yards and a punt for 19 yards to tally 219 all-purpose yards in the game. Valdosta State totaled 332 yards of total offense in the game, including 138 on the ground and 194 through the air.
Ryan Smith and Larry Dean tallied 12 tackles each to lead the VSU defense Dreiling finished with 10 in the contest. Dean’s 12 tackles moved him to 317 career tackles, just 23 shy of Jessie Tuggle’s school record of 340.
Cranor completed 27-of-42 passes for 312 yards and a score while also carrying the ball 10 times for 28 yards and the final touchdown of the contest. Nico Hobbs caught seven passes for 52 yards while Brett Reece had six catches for 94. OBU tallied 444 yards of total offense, but was held 25 points under its season average of 44.0.
Valdosta State takes next weekend off before returning to action Thursday, October 14 when it travels to Florence, Ala. and Braly Stadium for a GSC contest against North Alabama.