Courtesy of VSU Athletics
VALDOSTA, Ga. - Valdosta State turned in its best offensive effort of the year as the Blazers defeated West Alabama 35-6 in Gulf South Conference football action at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium Saturday evening.
The Blazers tallied 488 yards of total offense, including 413 through the air. Blazer quarterback Kellen Lewis completed 27-of-37 passes on the evening for 306 yards and a touchdown while also carrying the ball seven times for 16 yards and a pair of scores. Cedric Jones caught 10 passes from Lewis, the first Blazer to catch 10 passes in a game since Jones did so against Northwest Missouri State in the Blazers 2007 national championship victory, for 90 yards and a score. The 10 receptions gave Jones 244 for his career, moving him into second place on the VSU career list and third in the GSC, leaving him just three shy of Sean Pender's school and conference record of 247 catches.
Valdosta State (2-2, 2-1) opened the scoring on its first drive of the game as it marched 69 yards on 10 plays. Lewis completed six-of-eight passes on the drive, tallying 63 yards, before Ronnye Nelson scored on a two-yard run with 12:45 to go in the first quarter.
After the a pair of punts by each team, the Blazer special teams set up the second VSU touchdown of the game when Rashad Etheridge blocked a Brock Sharp punt attempt on West Alabama's third series of the game.
Valdosta State took over on the UWA two yard line after the block and Lewis scored on a quarterback keeper to put the Blazers in front 14-0 with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Lewis added a one-yard scoring run on Valdosta State's next drive to push the VSU lead to 21 points. David Arnold began the drive with a pair of carries for 21 yards before Lewis and R.J. Bastone hooked up for a pair of receptions that covered 25 yards. A Jones reception moved the ball to the Tiger six yard line while a holding penalty gave VSU a first and goal from the UWA three. Lewis picked up two yards on a keeper up the middle and was stuffed for no gain on his next run before faking a hand-off and rolling out right to score untouched.
A Roosevelt Ross fumble on the VSU 24 set up the next Blazer scoring drive, which covered 76 yards in just eight plays. After a Nelson carry netted no yards, Lewis hit Kody Case for 13 yards and Jackson Dean for
32 more to move the ball down to the UWA 31. A pair of catches by Jones netted six more yards while Isaiah Jupiter hauled in a catch at the UWA 13. Nelson proceeded to pick up six yards on a carry before closing out the drive with a seven yard touchdown run to give VSU a 28-0 halftime lead.
The Blazers got their final points of the game on their first drive of the third quarter. After a punt gave Valdosta State the ball on the UWA 49, Lewis completed a 22-yard pass to Gerald Ford. After an incomplete pass, Jones hauled in a pass on the sideline and broke a tackle before making two more defenders miss him as he scored on a 27-yard reception to post VSU to a 35-0 lead.
The Valdosta State starters played just one more series the rest of the game, a drive that ended with a 33 yard missed field goal, while the defense twice stopped the Tigers (3-2, 1-2) inside the Blazer 15 yard line. The only West Alabama score of the game came with 1:40 remaining when Eric Hendricks forced an Arnold fumble on the VSU 40. Tavarus Finley recovered the fumble and returned it 30 yards to the VSU 10. A Blazer penalty on the play moved the ball to the five-yard line, from which Ross scored on the next play.
Arnold led the Blazer rushing game with eight carries and 52 yards while Donald Maxwell paced the VSU defense with seven tackles, including two for loss.
Gary Johnston came on for an injured Deon Williams and completed
eight-of-19 passes for 61 yards while Ross carried the ball 16 times for 102 yards. Hendricks tallied a team-high 11 tackles and forced two fumbles in the game.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, October 1 when it travels to Cleveland, Miss. to face Delta State at Parker Field. The game will be televised as a part of the GSC Game of the Week package and is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. Eastern kickoff.