FORT VALLEY -- Fort Valley State entered Saturday’s game against Stillman College seeking a fresh start, a turnaround in its final stretch of games of the season. Playing in front of a homecoming crowd, the Wildcats got exactly that and then some, steamrolling the visiting Tigers 52-3.
“We’re not giving up as a team; we’re still playing hard,” FVSU defensive end Cody Nash said.
The loss is the first of the season in SIAC play for Stillman, which falls to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play. FVSU improves to 2-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play. The Wildcats host Morehouse on Saturday before finishing out the season in the Fountain City Classic against Albany State in Columbus.
Morehouse defeated Benedict 37-31 on Saturday.
“We’re looking at it as a new season and want to win the last three games,“ FVSU head coach Donald Pittman said. “Now, we’ve got one.”
As has been the case in some of their losses this season, the Wildcats led early, scoring three first-quarter touchdowns and leading 24-3 at halftime. This time, however, FVSU finished off the opposition, keeping its foot on the gas to the game’s finish. The Wildcats scored four second-half touchdowns while also keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
“We’ve started out good, and in the second half, we haven’t finished,” said receiver Chris Slaughter, who caught two touchdown passes. “We finished (Saturday).”
The Wildcats continually frustrated the Tigers through a sense of offensive balance, with Cameron Pearson passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns, including the two to Slaughter, a former standout at Peach County. Slaughter hauled in a 33-yard pass for FVSU’s first score of the game, and the other came with 2:15 to go in the third quarter as Slaughter made a catch in the back of the end zone. The play stretched the FVSU lead to 38-3, and that was padded by two fourth-quarter scores: a 3-yard run by Courtney Aaron and an 85-yard Demario Barber punt return.
Another former Peach County standout, Travis Richmond, had a big day, as well. He led the Wildcats on the ground with 15 carries for 93 yards and touchdown while also throwing Stillman off balance by catching passes coming out of the backfield, hauling in four catches for 42 yards.
FVSU’s offense set the tone with the opening score, but not to be outdone was the Wildcats’ defense. On the Tigers’ second offensive play, quarterback Dondre Purnell was hit by Ja’Bois Glen, forcing a fumble. Bernard Goodrum scooped up the loose ball, returning it 33 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, FVSU led 14-0 with two scores within 16 seconds. After forcing Stillman to a three-and-out, the Wildcats quickly scored again, with Pearson finding Barber on a 53-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 lead.
Each team exchanged a second-quarter field goal, including a 52-yarder by the Wildcats’ Justin Rosenbaum. Leading 24-3, the Wildcats held the Tigers’ offense to 118 yards of total offense and forced four fumbles and two interceptions. And of the six turnovers, four resulted in FVSU touchdowns, sending the large crowd home with a homecoming victory.
“It was good for the whole school and town, from the alumni on down,” Pittman said.