MELBOURNE, Fla. – The Florida Tech football team (3-0) started its Gulf South Conference schedule on the right foot Saturday evening as the Panthers rolled past the Delta State Statesmen (0-3), 30-12, in their league opener at Panther Stadium.
The victory evens the all-time series between Florida Tech and Delta State at three games apiece.
After a pair of below-average performances by the Florida Tech offense this season, the Panthers were firing on all cylinders against the Statesmen. The Crimson & Gray racked up 403 yards of offense including 184 through the air and 219 on the ground.
Delta State, on the other hand, struggled against the Panthers’ defense, mustering just 193 yards of offense, 112 passing and 81 rushing, on 64 plays.
Trent Chmelik was impressive in the game for the Panthers, completing 19-of-28 passes for 184 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The junior quarterback also ran for 22 yards in the game.
Romell Guerrier was the main beneficiary of Chmelik’s great night as the senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown.
Antwuan Haynes finally found some open running room against DSU, rushing 14 times for 88 yards and a 69-yard touchdown, in addition to catching two passes for five yards.
After not playing during the first two games of the season, Austin Evarts made the most of his opportunity in the Panthers’ new look wildcat offense on Saturday. The sophomore, who is listed as a wide receiver on the roster, stunned the Statesmen’s defense for 76 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
Reigning GSC Defensive Player of the Week, J.T. Hassell paced the Florida Tech defense with nine total tackle and two pass breakups. Evan Thompson made eight tackles, including one tackle for loss and one sack. Dezmond Morgan had four tackles in the win, including a sack.
The Panther defense was exceptional against Delta State. The unit produced 12 pass breakups, six sacks and seven tackles for loss totaling 54 yards. Xavier Story led all players with five pass breakups while Karenz Stephens posted three.
The Crimson & Gray wasted no time getting points on the scoreboard against DSU. Chemelik launched a gorgeous 41-yard touchdown pass to Guerrier in the endzone on the Panthers’ opening offensive possession, giving Florida Tech a 7-0 advantage just 1:15 into the game.
Not to be outdone, Haynes broke free for a 69-yard scamper during the Panthers’ second possession of the game, giving his team a 14-0 edge.
Evarts then added to the scoring when he collected a direct snap and ran it 11 yards to the endzone for a 21-0 lead with 10:54 still remaining in the first quarter.
The Statesmen finally got onto the board in the second quarter as DSU quarterback Patrick Shegog hit Tyler Harrell for a 22-yard pass and catch to cut the Panthers’ advantage to 23-6. However, a fumble on the PAT attempt ruined the Statesmen’s chance at an extra point as Hassell collected the ball and carried it coast-to-coast to get the two points for his team.
Evarts tallied his second touchdown of the game during the waning moments of the first half as he powered through the DSU defense for a well-earned 21-yard score.
The final points of the contest came on the defensive side of the ball as DSU’s Darren Gardenhire intercepted Chmelik and ran it in for a touchdown from 15 yards out with 1:45 left in the third.
With the first conference victory under the belt, Florida Tech will now prepare for its battle with GSC rival West Georgia next Saturday, Sept. 22. Kickoff between the Wolves and Panthers is set for 2 p.m. ET.
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