After two close, gut-wrenching victories to start the season, the VSU football team headed north to face unbeaten, No. 6 ranked Albany State. In another nail biter, the Blazers defense came up big at the end to preserve a 30-27 victory, moving VSU to 3-0 on the season.
For the third consecutive week, the “Black Swarm” of defenders from Valdosta had their backs against the wall late in the game.
Daniel Anderson converted on a 43-yard field goal to give VSU the 30-27 lead with 3:15 remaining. Following the field goal, Albany State was given two separate possessions to put points on the board, but the Blazers defense stepped up.
Albany State would only accumulate a total of nine yards in the two drives, and Harrison Dreiling intercepted a pass on the Valdosta State 27-yard line with only one minute remaining.
Coach David Dean’s defense exemplified the “bend but not break” philosophy all game long en route to the victory. The Blazers finished with three sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and the interception that sealed the win.
“I’m awfully proud of (the defense),” Dean said. “They take a lot of pride in making plays like that. We’ve allowed teams to move down field, but when we get in the red zone, we bow our backs and we’ve been able to make plays.”
The Blazers look for an easier test this Saturday as they take on Southern Arkansas (1-2) at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Last year, VSU defeated the Muleriders by a score of 27-0.
Against Albany State, the Blazers racked up 432 yards of offense; 289 through the air and 143 on the ground. Dean hopes to see more of the same balanced attack Saturday.
“The more even that we can get our yardage and be more balanced, (the more) it’s going to cause them a lot of problems,” Dean said.
Despite shutting them out last year, Dean wasn’t pleased with how the offense performed. The Blazers will depend on the defense once again to lead the way against the Muleriders.
“Same kind of deal we had against Newberry,” said Dean. “We have to come out focused, and our defense has got to play good. The big thing I’m concerned with is a letdown after a big Albany State win. We can’t afford to do that.”
Despite the convincing victory last year, Dean sees this game and every game as a big game.
“I think our guys know what’s on the horizon,” Dean said. “In Division II football, it’s a playoff every week. You lose a game and you’re behind the eight ball. For us, we treat each week as a playoff type game. Offensively, we need to be (focused), because last year, we stunk it up against those guys and we need to redeem ourselves.”