The Statesmen outgunned the Florida Tech Panthers in a Gulf South Conference shootout 52-31. Both teams combined for 1,051 yards of offense. Delta State (3-1, 2-0 GSC) had 590 yards on 76 plays, while Florida Tech (1-3, 0-2 GSC) had 461 yards on 84 plays. DSU turned the ball over two times, while Florida Tech turned it over three times. DSU committed 10 penalties, but nine came in the second half.
“I think we had two turnovers two night which is an improvement,” DSU head football coach Todd Cooley said. “I thought our special teams was better. That’s an improvement. I think Florida Tech played a good football game, and I think they’re a team that’s getting better every week. I think also we spent a lot of energy in those first three games. That’s no excuse. We’ve got to play better and be ready to play.”
Holding on to a slim 31-24 lead, the Statesmen came through big time in the fourth quarter. Timothy Foy marched on a five-yard touchdown run with 14:16 left in the game; Travis Champion completed a pass to Patrick Bethley that resulted in an 81-yard touchdown pass and Justin McArthur scored on a three-yard run with 8:10 left in the game. Vince Sciorrotta kicked the PAT after each score to help DSU take a 52-24 lead with 8:10 left to play.
The Panthers scored their final points of the night with 4:08 left on the clock as Kaleb Leach marched on a two-yard TD run. The extra point kick from Brion Ashley was good, but DSU led 52-31, which would be the final for the night.
“In the fourth quarter, I thought we played a lot better,” Cooley said. “We got into a rhythm a little bit offensively. To Florida Tech’s credit, they kept scrapping back. They’ve got a good football team.”
In the first quarter, DSU jumped on top as Champion completed a five-yard touchdown pass to Timothy Foy with 1:45 left on the clock.
In the second quarter, DSU’s defense came up with a big score as Jeremy Davis intercepted a Bobby Vega pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. The kick from Sciorrotta was good, and DSU led 14-0.
With 8:35 left in the first half, the Panthers scored their first points of the game as Vega marched into the end zone on a one yard run. The kick from Ashley was good, and the Panthers’ cut the Statesmen’s lead to 14-7. DSU was able to battle back as Michael Davison marched on a two-yard TD run with 2:55 left in the second quarter. The kick from Sciorrotta was good, and DSU pushed its lead up to 21-7. The Panthers were able to put a few more points on the board as Ashley connected on a 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to cut DSU’s lead down to 21-10 going into the lockerroom at halftime.
The Statesmen scored 10 more point early in the third quarter as Foy caught a pass from Champion that resulted in a 62-yard touchdown reception, while Sciorrotta kicked a 31-yard field goal to give the Statesmen a 31-10 lead with 10:18 left in the third.
The Panthers charged hard as Vega connected with Xaiver Milton on an 11-yard touchdown pass, while Dan Masteller hit the end zone on a one-yard run. The PAT kick from Ashley was good after each score to help the Panthers cut DSU’s lead down to seven points at 31-24 with 2:50 left in the third quarter. That was as close as Florida Tech could get.
Champion did well again under center for DSU as he completed 29-of-36 passes for 417 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bethley caught three passes for 126 yards with a touchdown, Tim Foy caught six passes for 108 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 39 yards with a touchdown on eight carries and Richard Freelon rushed for a team-high 117 yards on 20 carries to aid the offense.
On defense for DSU, Richard Nash and Franklie Lee recorded eight tackles each to lead the Statesmen, followed by David Evans and Dandrick Jackson with six tackles each and Davis with two interceptions.
On offensive for Florida Tech, Vega completed 38-of-51 passes for 332 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, Trevor Sand rushed for 109 yards on 16 carries and Milton caught 12 passes for 124 yards with a touchdown.
On defense for Florida Tech, Justin Arcune led the Panthers with 11 tackles.
DSU will have a short week of rest, as the team will travel to Livingston, Ala. on Thursday to play West Alabama in another GSC showdown.