Written by Kyle Dawson, Sports Editor
The VSU Blazers football team beat Albany State Saturday 16 to 7 during a shaky performance that head coach Kerwin Bell called the worst that the team could have played.
“We played about as bad as I could have imagined we’d play, but there’s something about a good football team that finds a way when you’re not playing good,” Bell said. “This team has it. You can see it in their eyes when we went in the locker room.”
After a scoreless first quarter in which VSU missed a 21 yard field goal, ASU scored first in the second quarter after a ten play, 72 yard drive.
VSU picked it up in the third quarter. Andrey Gray netted a 43 yard field goal, and Roland Rivers added two touchdowns, one passing and one rushing. No one scored in the fourth.
Rivers, who was 13-32 with 137 yards and one touchdown in the air, played extremely average according to Bell. Rivers said that having an extra week to practice and get used to the physicality will help him for the next game at North Alabama.
“I’m definitely going to get in the film room and be a student of the game,” Rivers said. “I haven’t been hit since last year. It’s all new to me, getting hit, but Albany State played their tails off tonight.”
The defense, however, was the key for the Blazers against ASU. While they did allow 377 yards, with 220 of those on the ground, they forced four interceptions which stalled key drives for the Rams.
Dante Robinson was responsible for two of the interceptions, one of which set the Blazers up on the Rams’ goal line and another stalled a 12 play drive for ASU. Brandon Roe and Andre Johnson had the other two picks.
Robison said the two interceptions were great because it helped get the team back into the game after being down, but he said that the defense has a lot to work on.
“On defense, we need to work on keeping the quarterback in the pocket so that he can’t really hurt us like that,” Robinson said. “That’s what really hurt us in the beginning, the quarterback scrambling.”
Special teams for the Blazers were very inconsistent, but one bright spot was punter Gavin Wilson. Wilson pinned ASU inside the 20 yard line on half of his punts with one being downed at the two. Wilson ended up with 336 total punting yards.
As for North Alabama, Bell said that the Blazers will have to be more intense during preparation.
“We’ve got to work our butts off to get better for this second game,” Bell said. “We’ve got to challenge everybody including our coaching staff. I think all great football teams improve between week one and week two and we’ve got an extra week, so now that we’ve seen ourselves against another opponent it’s time to really make a big jump.”
VSU will look to make that jump in Florence, Alabama, on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.