ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Cayden Cochran passed for 424 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Seantavious Jones, to lead No. 13 Valdosta State to a 40-13 victory over Ouachita Baptist at A.U. Williams Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Cochran came on in relief of Blazer starter Austen Roberts and completed 20-of-29 passes. His four touchdown passes were the most by a Blazer quarterback since Chris Hart also threw four against Southern Arkansas on November 3, 2008 while the 424 passing yards tied the ninth-highest total in Valdosta State history and marked the first time a VSU signal caller had eclipsed the 400-yard barrier since Barrett Wilkes did so on October 25, 2003. Meanwhile, Jones' three touchdowns were the most by a Blazer since Eric Sledge scored three against Edward Waters on November 7, 2009 while his 196 receiving yards marked the first time a VSU receiver tallied more than a 150 yards receiving since T.J. Williams had 167 against Ouachita Baptist on September 20, 2008.
Ouachita Baptist, which fell to 3-2, got on the board early as it drove 75 yards on just five plays to open a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Tiger quarterback Casey Cooper provided the big play on the drive as he ran a keeper on a third-and-three and broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage before racing 48 yards for the score.
After being forced to punt on its ensuing drive, Valdosta State, which improved to 5-1, got on the board with a safety. Jack Fulford's punt was downed on the one yard line on the play and on the next play, a swarm of Blazers met Tiger running back Daniel McGee in the end zone for a safety.
Valdosta State had a touchdown negated by a penalty on the ensuing drive and saw a 47-yard field goal attempt fall short while Jason Fowler hit a 40 yard field goal for OBU with 2:49 remaining in the first quarter to extend the Ouachita Baptist lead to 10-2.
The Blazers grabbed the lead with 17 second quarter points. Daniel Andersen kicked a 26 yard field goal to cut the Blazer deficit to five points before A Reggie Lewis touchdown run gave VSU the lead. Lewis' three yard run capped off an 11-play, 80-yard drive that gave Valdosta State a 12-10 advantage with 6:49 to go in the first half.
Ouac hita Baptist drove to the Valdosta State 23 on the ensuing drive before a sack and three incomplete passes gave the Blazers the ball back with 2:29 to play. Cochran proceeded to march VSU down the field, completing four of his five passes for 65 yards. Facing a second and 15 on the Tiger 21, Cochran lofted a pass into the left back corner of the end zone that was hauled down by Jones to push the Blazer advantage to 19-10 at the half.
The Blazers got two quick touchdowns to start the second half to extend their lead to 33-10. On the third play of the half, Cochran hooked up with Jones for a 77-yard scoring strike before a turnover in Blazer territory set up the sophomore's third touchdown pass of the game. Lawrence Virgil sacked Cooper on the Blazer 15, jarring the ball loose in the process. Valdosta State recovered the fumble and on the next play, Cochran found Quin Roberson across the middle for the score.
Ouachita Baptist responded with a field goal to pull to within 20 points, but Cochran and Jones again hooked up to push the VSU advantage to 40-13. After a Tiger punt rolled out of bounds on VSU 47, Cochran hit a streaking Jones in stride for a 53-yard touchdown.
Valdosta State rolled to 597 yards of total offense in the game, the sixth-highest total in school history. Meanwhile, the Blazer defense, which was led by Harrison Dreiling with 11 tackles, forced three turnovers while holding Ouachita Baptist to just 298 yards of offense, 75 of which came on the game's opening drive.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday, October 15 when it hosts West Alabama in the Gulf South Conference opener for both teams. The game, which is Homecoming for Valdosta State, is slated for a 3:00 p.m. kickoff.