This story was written by Chris Webb.
Valdosta State looked sharp to start out the season defeating Albany State 38-10 in front of a crowd of 8,403 at Bazemore-Hyder stadium on Saturday night.
Things didn’t start out so sharp for VSU though, going three and out on their first two possessions of the night.
“The start was frustrating, we are going to have to play much better than that to start the game,” Head Coach David Dean said about his offense early “I think we just had some anxious mistakes that we will learn from going forward.”
After a fake punt on 4th and 1 late in the first quarter, the Blazers offense started to settle down and start clicking.
“I thought it was something we needed with the way our defense was playing,” Dean says on the fake “At worst we would have allowed 3 points, we just needed a momentum swing.”
The fake sparked a 17-play, 54-yard drive capped off by a 45-yard field goal by kicker Anthony Pistelli, a new career long for him.
VSU grabbed that momentum and didn’t look back; touchdowns on two of their next three drives gave the Blazers a 17-0 lead entering the half.
The Blazer defense limited ASU to only 70 total yards in the first half while forcing three turnovers.
Another fumble by Albany State following the opening kick off of the third quarter was followed up two plays later by an 8-yard touchdown run by Austin Scott making it 24-0.
Turnovers were the name of the game tonight as the “Black Swarm” were able to force turnovers as the offense turned that into 21 points.
“I was really proud of our defense,” Dean said “they were flying to the ball all night… we talked all summer about being more physical and they did just that tonight.”
The most physical player for the Blazers tonight was All-Gulf South Conference defensive end Tevin Davis.
Davis looked unstoppable in his first game of the season and is glad to back 100 percent after missing the end of last year with a broken toe.
“I actually almost cried coming out there tonight,” Davis said with a chuckle, “This was my last home opener and since I missed the last home game last year it just feels great to be back out there running.”
Davis and the Blazers defense finished the night allowing only 39 yards on the ground and just 206 overall facing a talented Golden Ram offense.
“We had to stop the run and we did that, we forced them to have to throw the ball, if we can continue to control the run this defense has the chance to be a very good group for us,” Dean said about his team’s performance on defense Saturday night.
ASU didn’t crack the scoreboard until a field goal late in the third quarter made it 24-3.
New quarterback Jake Medlock looked solid in his debut as a Blazer going 13-24 with 140 yards and two touchdowns.
He was also able to add 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground looking as a nice dual threat option for the VSU offense.
All-GSC running back Cedric O’Neal had a solid night with 67 yards on 14 carries, before being taken out when the game got out of hand.
VSU will take on Winston-Salem State next Saturday at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia at4 p.m.