Panthers Dominate Crusaders
En Route to 37-7 Home Victory
MELBOURNE, Fla. – The Florida Tech football team dominated North Greenville from the opening snap on Saturday as the Panthers jumped out to a 30-0 lead and cruised to a 37-7 Gulf South Conference victory on Senior Day at Panther Stadium.
“It’s always a good feeling to get a win against a good team,” said head coach Steve Englehart. “I did not anticipate a 30-point win. We just got off to a fast start and our defense got turnovers. We didn’t do a good job on converting on those opportunities at the beginning of the game, but as the game went on our offense picked it up and started to move the ball well.”
The Crimson & Gray outgained the Crusaders 356-211 and held NGU to 1-for-9 on third downs. The Panthers allowed North Greenville to enter the red zone just once in the game.
Trent Chmelik completed 13-of-18 for 178 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off once in the game off a tipped ball at the line.
Antwuan Haynes rushed for 88 yards on 22 carries and set the all-time rushing record on a run in the first quarter. Haynes now has 3,361 rushing yards in his four-year career.
David Bryant also got into the mix with 67 yards on eight rushes, while Chmelik ran for 19 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season.
J.T. Hassell guided the Panther defense with five tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. His second tackle of the game gave the senior his 100th stop of the season, a new program single-season record.
Evan Thompson finished with four tackles and Adonis Davis added three tackles and a sack. Dezmond Morgan made his presence known in the game as the sophomore recorded two interceptions, which he returned for 37 total yards, and a blocked kick. Daniel Welch and Karenz Stephens combined for five tackles and each registered an interception for the Panthers in the game.
The Panther defense came out fired up for the start of the game and forced NGU into turnovers on four of their first five possessions. Florida Tech finished the game with five forced turnovers, including four interceptions.
Morgan credits the preparation during the week for the Panthers’ impressive defensive performance.
“We were ready and had them (NGU) schemed out pretty well so we knew exactly what they were going to do every play almost,” said Morgan. “We just did our jobs. But every guy was also motivated to send the seniors off with a win and we did that today.”
J.T. Hassell forced a fumble by Dashonnell Wright on the Crusaders first play of the game. Hassell recovered the loose ball on the NGU 26-yard line. Six plays later, Trey Schanevilleknocked in a 37-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 3-0 edge with 12:16 left in the first quarter.
Florida Tech did it again on the Crusaders next offensive play as Desmond Morgan picked off Donny Baker and returned it three yards to the NGU 24. Schaneville then capped the drive with a 42-yard kick to hand Florida Tech a 6-0 lead with 11:12 to go in the opening quarter.
Trent Chmelik accounted for the opening touchdown for the Panthers, powering the ball in from one yard out to cap off a 13-play, 55-yard drive and push the Panthers’ advantage to 13-0.
Florida Tech picked off Baker for the second time during NGU’s fourth drive of the game. This time Daniel Welch intercepted the pass to set the Panthers up on the Crusader 28-yard line with 2:02 left in the first quarter.
If took just two plays for the Panthers to make the most of Welch’s pick as Chmelik connected with Romell Guerrier on a 14-yard touchdown strike to put the Panthers up 20-0.
Guerrier and Chmelik teamed up again midway through the second quarter on a 57-yard touchdown pass to give Florida Tech a 27-point lead with 7:34 left before halftime. The score was Guerrier’s 11th touchdown catch of the season, tying him with Xavier Milton for the most in a single season in program history.
Schaneville added to the Panthers’ lead with a 27-yard kick with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The field goal is the freshman’s 13th of the season, giving him the program single-season record for made field goals.
It wasn’t until the 9:34 mark in the third quarter when NGU was able to light up the scoreboard, this coming on a one-yard dive by EJ Humphrey to make the score 30-7.
It was fitting that the final Panther tally came on a touchdown by a senior, as Chmelik found Terrance Bynum in the back corner of the end zone for an 11-yard score with eight seconds to go in the third quarter.
With a hefty lead in hand, the Panthers began to drain the clock the final quarter and walked with a dominant 30-point victory in their final regular season home game.
Florida Tech concludes the 2018 regular season next week on the road at Shorter on Nov. 10 in Rome, Georgia. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET at Barron Stadium.
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