by Chris Kessler
Valdosta State bent but never broke on defense.
The Blazers defense played about as perfect as possible, keeping Shorter off the score-board Friday night.
“It was very important to come out successful and also get a goose-egg, and make a statement; we’re a defense that comes ready to play,” safety Lance Holder said, who had a force fumble in the game.
In the first half, VSU struggled with Shorter’s option offense, who held possession for over 23 minutes and totaling 198 yards on offense in the first half.
“From transitioning to practice to the game, you got to get used to the speed for the first couple of series,” head coach David Dean said.
Shorter came close to putting points on the board just before halftime, but VSU’s Lawrence Virgil came up with a clutch sack to force Shorter to settle for a 37 yard field goal attempt, which was missed by Guy Hunt.
On third down, the Blazer’s held Shorter a to 20 percent conversion rate.
Up 6-0 ,with 12 minutes in the second quarter, VSU forced a Shorter fumble, recovered by Jeremy Grable. The Blazer’s offense quickly capitalized with a 18 yard rushing touchdown by Austin Scott, to take a 13-0 lead.
In the second half, the Blazer’s defense turned up the heat on Shorter, limiting the Hawks to just 33 yards on offense in the third quarter.
Despite a commanding 34-0 lead to start the fourth quarter, The Blazers’ defense didn’t let up.
Shorter’s closest opportunities to score came early in the fourth.
Shorter’s DJ Hughes took a pitch to the outside, headed to the end zone, before Holder knocked the ball loose and was recovered by VSU’s Andre Johnson.
Shortly after a VSU turnover, the Blazers’ defense was asked to rise to the occasion again, to keep the shutout going.
“It was just the fact we had to bow-up. One thing about our defense, we might bend but we won’t break,” Holder said. “That’s something we take a lot of pride in, don’t let them in the end-zone, that was a big accomplishment.”
Shorter had the ball inside the red-zone once again, but VSU forced a second straight fumble, keeping a zero in the guest column.
Along with the shutout, the Blazers finished with four sacks and forced three turnovers
This article was written by Chris Kessler.