WINGATE, N.C. – Austen Roberts scored on a quarterback keeper in the second overtime period to lead No. 20 Valdosta State to a 34-28 victory over No. 14 Wingate at Irwin Belk Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Roberts run came after Theseus Jackson picked up five yards on the Blazers' first play of the second overtime period. Roberts faked a hand-off to Jackson on second down and raced untouched up the middle for the winning score.
Valdosta State (1-0) got the ball first in the first overtime period and picked up just four yards on a pair of runs. On third down, Roberts was flushed from the pocket and let loose the ball towards the end zone as he was hit. Tray Herndon and Seantavious Jones converged on the ball. Herndon dove and stretched the full length of his 5-10 frame to haul in the pass for the touchdown.
Wingate (0-1) answered the touchdown with one of its own on its possession in the first overtime period. After picking up a first down on a Cody Haffly to Andrew Nallenweg third down pass, a pair of penalties backed the Bulldogs up to the 30. VSU forced another third down, but a pass interference call gave Wingate new life on the Blazer 6. Four plays later, Haffly found Nestor Lantigua in the left corner for the tying score.
The Bulldogs got the ball first in the second extra period and moved to the 20 yard line before being forced into a field goal opportunity. Matt Pierce came off the corner and got a hand on the ball, forcing it to fall short of the uprights.
Wingate opened the scoring in the first quarter as Josh Clawson caught an 11-yard pass from Haffly for a touchdown. The Bulldogs took over on their own 45 yard line after a VSU punt and needed just seven plays to move down the field. Haffly completed all five of his passes on the drive, the last coming on a corner route by Clawson.
Haffly hit Chris Bowden for a 94 yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the second quarter to put WC up 14-0, only to have Valdosta State cut its deficit to seven points on its next possession.
The Blazers took over on their own 20 and used nine plays to drive the field. Theseus Jackson carried much of the load on the drive as he carried the ball six times for 63 yards on the drive. Roberts appeared to put VSU on the scoreboard with a 17 yard run, but the play was called back for an illegal block. Two plays later, Jackson burst through the line for an 11-yard touchdown run to cut the Wingate lead to 14-7.
Valdosta State took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 80 yards, mostly on the ground, to even the game at 14-14. Roberts threw just two passes on the drive, completing both for 11 yards total. Jackson gained 27 yards rushing on the ground while Roberts picked up 40, including the final two on a keeper for the touchdown.
Wingate immediately answered with a touchdown of its own to reclaim a seven point lead. The Bulldogs marched 74 yards on 12 plays for the touchdown. Haffly completed four of his five passes on the drive, with the big one coming on a 26-yard completion to Marquise Allen that moved the ball into Blazer territory. Ten plays later, Haffly hooked up with Bryan Caffrey from six yards out for the score.
VSU tied the game once again less the three minutes into the fourth quarter as it marched 80 yards on seven plays. Roberts ran for seven yards on the drive and completed three passes for 68 more. Jackson appeared to score as he broke a 57-yard tight rope run down the sideline. However, the play was called back due to an illegal block. On the next play, Roberts hit Quin Roberson for a 53-yard scoring pass to even the game at 21-21.
Each team saw field goal opportunities come to naught in the final eight minutes of play as Wingate blocked a Blazer attempt with 7:40 remaining while a poor snap thwarted a Bulldog attempt with 2:29 to go.
Valdosta State was forced to punt on its possession after the Wingate missed field goal and Timmy Rogers returned the ball to the Blazer 28, but WC was only able to pick up one yard on two plays before Alex Webster picked off a Haffly pass on the one yard line to give the ball back to the Blazers.
Roberts completed 19-of-33 passes for 180 yards and two scores in the game while also carrying the ball nine times for 88 yards. Jackson finished with 122 yards and a score on 16 carries while Quin Roberson caught four passes for 85 yards and a score. The Blazers compiled 452 yards of total offense in the contest, including 272 rushing yards on 39 attempts.
Four Valdosta State players recorded double digit tackles, led by Harrison Dreiling and Chris Pope with 12 each. Ryan Smith and Jeremy Grable had 10 each.
Haffly completed 24-of-46 passes for 306 yards and four scores, including eight completions for 152 yards to Bowden. Vince Jordan picked up 65 yards on 16 rushing attempts. The Bulldogs finished with 436 yards of total offense.
Richie Kazazian led the WC defense with 15 tackles.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, September 8 at 7:00 p.m. when it plays its home opener against Newberry in Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The game will be televised as part of the GSC-TV Game of the Week package.