Written by Kyle Dawson, Sports Editor
Head coach Kerwin Bell decided to start Roland Rivers at quarterback against West Florida, but he quickly brought in Adam Robles after about three minutes. VSU won the game 40-28, but there is still no clear starter at the position for VSU.
“I thought he had a better week of practice,” Bell said. “Roland’s just got to learn how to carry that to the field on game day. He’s always looked really good in practice. I think when he gets hit a little bit, he gets down on himself, and he sort of goes in the tank. You can’t do that as a quarterback.”
Robles said he prepares to play every game and that the team winning is most important.
“In practice, we compete and make each other better,” Robles said. “Both of our goals are to win. We just want to make our team better and win football games.”
VSU got off to a great start. On the first play of the game for Robles, he threw a 27 yard pass to Donovan Bolden for a touchdown. Rivers came back later in the quarter and had a rushing touchdown.
A dropped fake extra point resulted in a 13-0 lead. Brandon Roe then returned a fumble 13 yards for a touchdown.
Late in the first, UWF recovered a Rivers fumble deep in VSU territory and later scored. Bell said VSU lost a lot of momentum after the turnover and subsequent score.
“They got the big turnover down there and from that point on their defensive line really controlled us,” Bell said. “They dominated us as bad as any defensive line has since I’ve been a head coach.”
In the rest of the game, the teams alternated scores, but VSU sealed the win with late touchdown runs from Cedric Hollingshed and Jordan Germany.
Miscues played a huge factor in the game. Combined, the teams had 10 turnovers. The VSU defense had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, while UWF had two interceptions and one fumble recovery. VSU had 13 penalties for 85 yards and UWF had nine penalties for 99 yards.
UWF quarterback, and former Blazer, Kaleb Nobles looked great at times as he placed balls in exactly the right spot. Other times, however, he looked rattled as he threw five interceptions and dropped the snap multiple times. Whenever UWF moved the ball near the VSU student section, they chanted “traitor.”
Raymond Palmer had arguably the most important interception for VSU, which came as UWF was trying to overcome a one point lead late in the game.
“I knew Kenny Moore was underneath, and I was hoping he would make the interception,” Palmer said. “He tipped it up to me, and I was right there to clean it up for him. Playing dime coverage helped us capitalize on some matchups.”
Bell said the defense was the key to the win while the offense struggled.
“The big plays by our defense and the turnovers they made late was big for us,” Bell said. “It helped us win the game.”
Bell said the Blazers’ offensive line, which gave up six sacks had one of the worst performances he’s seen as a head coach. He said a lot of the struggles were due to linemen missing practice for sickness and injury.
“We’ve got to get the linemen in better shape,” Bell said. “I think sitting out and being sick hurt us. Around the second quarter, we went down in energy level. We were right on it during the first part of the game. Then the energy was sucked out of us. We couldn’t even get on and off the field.”
Robles finished with 108 yards and a touchdown. Rivers had 102 yards and 2 interceptions along with a rushing touchdown. The quarterback competition will continue next week as the Blazers prepare for Kentucky State, but Bell said he would rather pick one than go with a rotation.
“When you’re trying to pick a guy, you hope one guy just takes it over,” Bell said. “The hard part is when a guy practices really well, but he doesn’t play like it in the game. Getting better up front will help us because our quarterbacks have been getting hit a lot.”
The Blazers will play Kentucky State on Saturday, Oct. 2 at a neutral site in Waycross, Georgia at 2 p.m.