Written by Niamani Carlyle-Hollis, Staff Writer
The Valdosta State Football team kicked Halloween off the right way and seemed to be too much for the West Alabama tigers to handle as they defeated them, 55-28 on Saturday. The big Gulf South Conference rival win helped ensure that the Blazers remain as contenders in the playoff as well as making Head Coach David Dean the winningest coach in the history of Valdosta State football. The big win marked Coach Dean’s 76th career win, giving him the boost over Chris Hatcher who once held the throne as the most winningest coach in VSU history.
In the first quarter, the Blazers were able to get a 14-0 lead up on West Alabama, the tigers gave it all they could to try and slow down the Blazer offense. Things seemed to be clicking on both ends however for the Blazers, as the Tigers were not able to score until the 9:01 mark in the second quarter, setting the score at 14-7.
Not to be a team that is outdone the Blazers came back just a little over two minutes later and scored a touchdown of their own. As the Blazers began to fall in stride, West Alabama began to make costly mistakes on the offensive in. At the six minute mark, Kenya Moore came up with a big interception and ran it all the way back for an easy pick six, making him the first player to return an interception for a touchdown since November 2013. With just 12 seconds left to go in the half, West Alabama was able to score, cutting the Blazers lead to only 7 with a 27-14 score at the half.
Both teams came out after the half more determined than before, as both teams battled to make it to the end zone. It was not until Greg Dent broke loose and was able to score off of a 40 yard touchdown reception, putting the Blazers up 34-14 with just 1:43 to go in the quarter. West Alabama hung in there though and cut the deficit to back within 7, after Devonta Savage returned a kickoff for 95 yards setting the stage for a 5 yard rush by Rashaad Lee.
Going into the 4th quarter with a 34-21 score, the Blazers kicked their offense into another gear and with 14:45 on the clock Blazer Cedric O’Neal burst through the defense for a 74 yard touchdown. West Alabama continued to hang tough as they were able to push towards the end zone for 73 yards and Lee was able to score off of a 10 yard run, setting the score at 41-28 with the Blazers on top.
That would be the last time that the Tigers put points on the scoreboard, the blazers however, were eager for more. With 9 minutes left in the game, the Blazers went on an 80 yard drive and Austin Scott was able to rush in for a 17 yard touchdown, increasing the score to 48-28. Still not satisfied Kenny Murphy put the nail in the coffin for the Tigers when at the 3:34 mark of the fourth quarter, he came up with a big interception and ran it back for a 73 yard touchdown.
With this win VSU’s record improved to 6-2 overall, while West Alabama’s fell to 6-3 overall making it impossible for them to make playoffs this season.
The Blazers will be traveling to Cleveland, Miss. to face yet another GSC contender at Delta State. The game is set to place on Saturday at 5 p.m.