Blazers Fall 23-20 to West Georgia

By: VSU Sports Information
By: VSU Sports Information

VALDOSTA, Ga. - V.J. Hunt hauled in an 11-yard touchdown catch with 4.9 seconds remaining to propel West Georgia to a 23-20 upset of No. 17 Valdosta State in Gulf South Conference football action at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Hunt's catch capped off a 16-play, 66-yard drive that took 5:33 off of the clock and gave the Wolves (5-3, 1-1) their first victory over the Blazers (6-3, 1-2) since 2005.

After Valdosta State scored on a 21-yard catch by Seantavious Jones with 5:40 remaining, West Georgia's Denarius Appling fielded the kickoff on his own five and returned it 29 yards to set up the winning drive. After converting just one third down attempt in the first 54 mintues of the game, the Wolves were successful on two third of their four third down attempts on the closing drive, including Hunt's catch in the end zone, and also converted a pair of fourth down tries. After seeing a run by James Kennebrew pick up just one yard on first down and a pass fall incomplete, Hunt hauled in an Emmanuel Taylor pass and got a foot in bounds for the winning score.

Valdosta State took the opening kickoff of the game and marched 82 yards on 14 plays to grab an early lead in the contest. The drive consumed 6:09 of the clock and was capped off as Cayden Cochran ran a quarterback keeper for a five yard touchdown run.

After the two teams traded punts on the ensuing possession, West Georgia used a 12-play, 97-yard drive that spanned 6:20 of the first and second quarters to move to within one point. Kennebrew picked up 42 yards on the drive while Taylor completed his only pass when he hooked up with Hunt from 18 yards out for the score. VSU appeared to stop the drive two plays before the touchdown catch as a Taylor pass from VSU 33 on a fourth-and-seven play fell incomplete, but Blazer Alex Webster was called for pass interference in the end zone to breath new life into the drive.

West Georgia grabbed control of the game as it scored 10 points in the final 16 seconds of the half. After taking over on its own 26 after a missed field goal by VSU, UWG ran the ball three times for 15 yards before Taylor lofted a deep pass down the right sideline. Appling hauled in the pass and eluded a tackle attempt by Dominique Wheeler for a 59-yard touchdown catch.

On the ensuing kickoff, two Blazers ran into each other, forcing a fumble by Griffin Roelle that was recovered by West Georgia. After an incomplete pass into the end zone, Davis Brackett came on and kicked a 31-yard field goal as the half expired to post the Wolves to a 16-7 halftime lead.

Valdosta State pullled to within six points with a 40-yard Daniel Anderson field goal with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter before adding a 30-yard attempt by the junior kicker with 9:48 remaining in the fourth.

Troy Braswell carried the ball 16 times for 188 yards in the game, the eighth-most rushing yards in a single game in Valdosta State history. Cochran added 57 more yards on 13 carries, but completed just 11-of-24 passes for 128 yards. Overall, VSU registered 414 yards of total offense, including 286 on the ground.

Harrison Dreiling, who also intercepted a pass, and Chris Caspari tallied 14 tackles each to lead the VSU defense.

Kennebrew countered Braswell as he gained 145 yards on 27 carries while Taylor rushed for 69 yards on 14 attempts while also completing 7-of-15 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolves finished with 360 yards of total offense, including 258 on the ground.

Valdosta State is off next week before returning to action Saturday, November 12 when it hosts North Alabama in the regular season finale for both teams.

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