Assistant Sports Editor
The Delta State Statesmen continued their hot start of the 2014 season by defeating Florida Institute of Technology 58-20 on Oct. 2 at Pirate Stadium in Melbourne, Fla.
The Statesmen got off to a poor start on their first drive. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Tyler Sullivan failed to get his offense going because of pressure from the Florida Tech defense.
The next drive resulted in a Florida Tech score. Panthers quarterback Tyler Bass threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Aaron George, which put their side up 7-0 at the 8:28 mark in the first quarter.
Delta State tied the game when Sullivan threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Ricky Hunt at the 5:38 mark in the first quarter.
The beginning of the second quarter was dominated by the defenses. Both offenses couldn’t get things going or couldn’t find the end zone.
With 8:48 left in the second quarter, Florida Tech kicker Brion Ashley missed a 22-yard field goal, which could have put his team in the lead.
The next drive after the missed field goal, Sullivan threw a 64-yard pass to Hunt which ended up at the Florida Tech 5-yard line. Hunt was tackled by a Florida Tech defender to stop a touchdown.
On the next play, Sullivan scrambled 5 yards for a touchdown, which put Delta State to a 14-7 lead at 6:59 mark.
On the next drive, Florida Tech scored a touchdown when running back Trevor Sand ran 20 yards to the end zone, but Ashley missed the extra point which made the score 14-13 in favor of Delta State at the 3:58 mark.
The next drive resulted in a Delta State touchdown, when Sullivan threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Casey Osborne putting the Statesmen to a 20-13 lead with 3:00 minutes left in the first half.
Vince Sciorrotta’s extra point was blocked by the Florida Tech special team unit after Osborne scored.
Florida Tech scored on the next drive when quarterback Mark Cato threw a 44 yard touchdown pass to Xavier Milton. It tied the game at 20-20 with 1:08 left in the first half.
Sadly, it was the last major effort that Florida Tech had in the game.
Delta State took a 23-20 lead at halftime when Sciorrotta kicked a 21-yard field goal with no time left in the first half.
The Statesmen came in the second half looking to destroy the Panthers for good. Florida Tech did not know what was to come.
The Statesmen’s stingy defense led by senior defensive lineman Diego Lubin, senior linebacker Rory Island, and junior defensive back Jon Knox came into the second half to crush the Florida Tech offense.
On the first drive of the second half, the Delta State defense crushed the Florida Tech offense forcing them to punt.
A few moments later on Delta State’s first drive of the second half, Sullivan threw a 31-yard pass to Justin Leavy. The junior receiver ran the ball past midfield to the Florida Tech’s 49-yard line.
A few seconds later, Leavy scored a touchdown when he caught a 49-yard pass from Sullivan, which put the Statesmen up 30-20 at the 11:31 mark in the third quarter.
When Florida Tech had the ball after the Delta State touchdown, the Panthers did not know what to do as they continued to get crushed by the Delta State defense.
During the drive, Cato was intercepted by Statesmen defensive back Knox which was returned for 9 yards to Florida Tech’s 31-yard line.
After two failed passes on their second drive of the second half, Delta State scored a touchdown at the 9:31 mark of the third quarter when Sullivan threw a 41-yard pass to Leavy. It made the score 37-20 Delta State.
At the 7:29 mark, Sullivan threw another touchdown pass when he connected 4 yards to James Johnson during a first and goal situation. It resulted in a 44-20 Statesmen lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Florida Tech. On 2nd down and 10 with the ball on their own 21-yard line, Cato completed a 2-yard pass to Collin O’Neal.
After the pass was completed, defensive back Trey Shaw forced a fumble which was recovered by Lubin on the Florida Tech 29-yard line. It occurred at the 7:00 mark of the third quarter.
After Delta State recovered the fumble, they scored a touchdown when sophomore running back D’Juan Bellaire ran for 12 yards to the end zone. It made the score 51-20 Delta State with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Florida Tech looked to get things going in the game. They failed to get them going as the Statesmen defense crushed their push to the end zone.
Delta State scored their final touchdown of the game when Eddie McCadney ran 3 yards to the end zone at the 9:51 mark to close out a 58-20 win.
After the victory, the Delta State side celebrated in the locker room with enthusiasm, momentum, and joy. Head coach Todd Cooley was pleased about his side’s play in the second half which led them to victory.
Sullivan completed 24 out of 41 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked in the game.
Sullivan is looking to continue his spectacular performance this season as he attempts to become the top passer in the Gulf South Conference.
For the wide receivers, Leavy caught four passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Hunt caught four passes for 114 yards and one touchdown.
Osborne caught five passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. Junior receiver Pat Bethley caught three passes for 59 yards.
McCadney ran the ball 11 times for 38 yards and one touchdown. Bellaire ran the ball eight times for 38 yards and one touchdown.
On the defensive side, Lubin earned two sacks in the game while linebackers Randall Boyd and Landry Tullo each sacked the quarterback once. Senior linebacker Ryan Self joined in collecting an assist sack.
Defensive back Richard Nash led the Statesmen tacklers collecting nine in the game, while Lubin collected five. Knox had five tackles brining him to 27 for the season, making him the leading tackler on the team.
The Statesmen will return to Parker Field-McCool Stadium tonight to take on Shorter. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.