Home / Fall 2015 / Rivers leads VSU in first GSC win

Rivers leads VSU in first GSC win

Wide receiver Donovan Bolden stretches to catch his second touchdown pass in a game against Mississippi College. The Blazers won their first Gulf South CConference game 34-7. (Photo Courtesy: Kristin Whitman/THE SPECTATOR)

Written by Gabe Burns, Asst. Sports Editor and Aldean Starr, Staff Writer

The Valdosta State Blazers are on the board in Gulf South Conference play.

After losing its first two conference games in somewhat staggering fashion, VSU rebounded with a 34-7 victory over the Mississippi College Choctaws. The Blazers dominant performance gave them their fourth victory.

After forcing a punt on MC’s opening drive, the Blazers (4-2, 1-2) scored quickly as EJ Hilliard connected with Greg Dent on a 74-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage.

Dent totaled 203 yards and a score on six receptions. Obviously a standout performance that the New York Giants scout in attendance will keep in mind.

“I just had to get open, and when I got the ball, I had to make plays,” said Dent. “We have to know where we need to be, and get better every day. We just need to push it so we can get into the playoffs.”

Mississippi College (2-4, 0-3) threatened to tie the game, but Cooper Lemonds recovered a fumble to prevent any damage. Peter Tulloch added an interception, but neither opportunity resulted in VSU putting up any points.

As has been the season’s theme for the Blazers, the team struggled to get going outside the lone touchdown. Backup quarterback Roland Rivers relieved Hilliard late in the second quarter and provided a spark with five straight completions to five different players. The drive concluded when Rivers found Donovan Bolden in the endzone. VSU carried a 14-0 advantage into the half.

“You have to go in there, stay focused and do your job,” said Rivers. “I knew we had to get a touchdown right before the half so we could have some momentum going into the second half.”

Rivers stayed in the game and completed a 75-yard pass to Dent on the first play of the 3rd quarter. Cedric O’Neal then punched it in to put VSU up three touchdowns.

Rivers took it himself for a 28-0 Blazers lead. Following the Choctaws’ only points of the afternoon, Rivers connected with Bolden again to put an exclamation point on the win.

MC finally scored early in the fourth, but it was too little too late for the Choctaws. The school has yet to win a GSC game since rejoining the conference prior to last season, and could not capitalize on VSU’s stalling offense and two missed field goals in the first half.

The Blazers seem to have a quarterback competition on their hands, but luckily, both signal callers appear capable of leading the offense. Hilliard finished 8 of 10 for 119 yards and a score, while Rivers went 14 of 20 for 197 yards and three total touchdowns. Neither quarterback turned the ball over, and both received great protection from an offensive line that did not surrender a single sack on the day.

Saturday was Rivers’ most extended action of the season, and the young quarterback impressed.

“We wanted to give (Roland) some game experience,” said coach David Dean. “We had decided this week that we were going to roll both of them in the ball game, and then when Roland came in, he was throwing the ball really well.

“It’s like a three point shooter. You don’t want to take those out when they’re hot. We just felt like we wanted to keep him in there and keep playing.”

VSU heads to Rome, Georgia aiming to even their conference record with a win over Shorter. The game is Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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