The VSU football team (6-4) saw their season come to a disappointing end last Saturday when they allowed No.13 North Alabama (8-2) to steal a playoff spot, defeating the Blazers 30-23 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Lion’s receiver Wes Holland scored the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter, leaving less than a minute remaining in the game.
That 12-play drive ate up 3:40 from the game clock and forced the Blazer offense to take over with very little time remaining.
Sophmore Griffin Rolle returned the following kickoff for 25 yards, placing the Blazers in great fielding position to tie up the score in the final seconds at UNA’s 27 yard line.
VSU third string quarterback Brett Whitmire, on the crucial drive, was intercepted in the endzone by UNA’s Bryan Thomas.
The decisive turnover which concluded the tough home loss leaves the Blazers out of the NCAA Division II playoff field and ends their long, up and down season.
The Blazers lost their last three games of the season by a total of 13 points.
Redshirt freshman Dartez Jacobs speaks for his teammates agreeing that the team didn’t meet VSU’s high expectations this season.
“Down the road everybody started slacking off and worrying about themselves,” Jacobs said. “We could have finished stronger. We didn’t finish. That’s the big thing. We had a lot of missed assignments.”
VSU, almost half way through the season, were comfortably sitting on an undefeated 4-0 record.
They would be handed their first eye opening loss against Arkansas-Monticello in the fifth week of the season.
The Blazers were ranked No.4 in the country at this time and saw their national ranking begin to decline.
After bouncing back in winning their next two games in a row against West Alabama and Quachita Baptist, the Blazers regained a sense of momentum before traveling to Cleveland, Miss., to face No.1 conference rival Delta State.
The nationally televised competition was a close game, resulting in a 36-33 loss for the Blazers that would throw the team into a late season tailspin.
The second to last game wouldn’t be any better for VSU suffering their first loss at home all season long to West Georgia in the last 4.9 seconds 23-20.
UWG got their first victory over VSU since 2005 pushing the Blazers further and further from an expected playoff berth before going into their final game against UNA.
The Blazers began the 2011 season with arguably the second hardest schedule in the nation.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Michael Doscher, despite not making the post season, isn’t disappointed the way the young squad handled the tougher opponents.
“We hung tough with every team we played with,” Doscher said. “There are a lot of positives that come out of it. No, it’s not the results we wanted but you move on and learn.”
The Blazers will return most of the starters on offense next season, however they will lose several defensive standouts.
“It hurts…you take it and work hard so it doesn’t happen again,” Doscher said.