The VSU football team traveled to Arkansas-Monticello last weekend riding a high of momentum following its advancement up the polls to the number four Division II team in the country; however, the excitement would be short lived as the Blazers were upset 23-9 by the Boll Weevils.
The Blazers entered the fourth quarter up by a 6-3 score however Arkansas-Monticello would score 20 unanswered points. The accumulation of turnovers and penalties proved to be the deciding factor in the game.
“I just think you can put it to turnovers and penalties as what the difference in the ballgame was, and then of course us in the fourth quarter, not being able to tackle, those were the difference in the game,” said Head Coach David Dean.
VSU finished the game with 15 penalties for 177 yards and also turned the ball over five times. Dean is going to need his team to cut back on both heading into next week.
“We got to hang onto the ball,” Dean said. “Five turnovers is entirely too much. We cannot do that, we aren’t good enough on offense to overcome five turnovers. We can’t have fifteen penalties. Those two things killed us offensively and defensively. Several third down penalties on defense; pass interference and a helmet-to-helmet hit on the quarterback. If we can eliminate those and just play smart football then we’re going to have a lot better chance of being successful.”
Dean’s squad will try to make improvements on these crucial mistakes as the Blazers head back to Arkansas, this time facing Ouachita Baptist (3-1).
Senior quarterback, Austen Roberts, threw four interceptions in the loss and he is looking for improvements in both preparation and in execution.
“We can improve in a lot of areas,” said Roberts. “Offensively, we didn’t handle the ball like we needed to and penalties killed us. I think everyone’s come out here with a new focus this week and is ready to play.”
Following the loss, there appears to be a new vibe and determination surrounding the team. Although mistakes were made, the areas for improvement were identified and despite the loss, there are still positives to be taken from it.
“I think we got a little bit complacent,” Dean said. “We were 4-0, we had been moved up to #4 in the country and we were playing a team that was 2-2. Everybody on our schedule is a good football team and we played a great defensive team last week. I think our guys got a little complacent and I think they realized now that they can’t do that. I think that more than anything else, it helped us refocus, it helped us get a little bit of our hunger back and hopefully that’ll show Saturday afternoon.”
The Blazers will play the Ouchita Baptist Tigers on Saturday before heading back home to prepare for the homecoming game against West Alabama on Sat., Oct. 15 at 3 p.m.