RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Valdosta State scored 15 unanswered second half points to defeated Arkansas Tech 21-7 in Gulf South Conference
After struggling to move the ball in the first half, Valdosta State (7-1, 5-1) opened the scoring early in the second quarter when Brett Whitmire scored on a 15-yard run. The Blazers took over the ball on the drive on their own two yard line and got an 11-yard pass to Seantavious Jones for a first down before a nine-yard sack moved the ball back to the inside the Blazer 10. On the next play, David Arnold caught a screen pass from Whitmire and, after a block by Jesus Torres, rumbled 76 yards to the ATU 19. Three plays later, Whitmire took the snap and was flushed from the pocket, but found an wide-open lane to the right corner of the end zone for the score to cap off a nine-play, 98-yard drive. The extra point was no good to give VSU a 6-0 lead.
The Blazers maintained their six point lead until 7:26 remained in the third quarter when Arkansas Tech (3-6, 2-5) took advantage of an interception in VSU territory to take a 7-6 lead. The interception was returned to the Valdosta State 12 yard line and picked up eight yards on three plays. The Wonder Boys chose to go for it on fourth down and Rico Keller completed a pass to Cassius Washington for the score.
Valdosta State got the lead back as it took advantage of an Arkansas Tech fumble. On a Blazer punt, Draper Demouchet fumbled the ball on the return and Dominique Wheeler recovered the ball for VSU on the ATU 9. On the next play, David Arnold scored his first touchdown of the year as he rushed off right guard. Ronnye Nelson added a two-point conversion run to give VSU a 14-7 lead with 10:19 remaining in the game.
Larry Dean recorded eight tackles in the game to become the Valdosta State career leader in tackles. He recorded his 341st career tackle when he dropped Washington for a four-yard loss on a running play, surpassing Jessie Tuggle’s record of 340 career tackles that had stood since 1986. Dean finished the game with 347 career tackles.
Stevie Harden pushed the Blazer lead to 21-7 as he picked off his second pass of the game and returned it 33 yards for the touchdown. The interception was the seventh of the year for the senior, leaving him just two shy of the VSU single season record of nine, while the score was his fourth of the season.
Valdosta State finished the game with 259 yards of total offense, including 63 rushing and 196 passing. Whitmire completed 14-of-30 passes in the game for 184 yards while Ryan Smith led the defensive unit with 11 tackles.
Arkansas Tech tallied 181 yards of total offense as Keller ran for 49 and passed for 90. Derandus Frye and Antonio Charles each had nine tackles to lead the Wonder Boy defense.
Valdosta State returns home to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium next Saturday, November 6 when it hosts West Georgia at 2:00 p.m. in Gulf South Conference action. The game will feature Senior Day for the Blazers and the team’s senior will be honored prior to the game.