David Dean knew what the numbers were like, that suspense and Valdosta State vs. Fort Valley State just didnt belong in the same sentence.
Last year, it was 62-14. In 2008, 56-3. A year earlier, 69-0 in Fort Valley. It had been seven meetings since the Wildcats made the Blazers sweat.
But as the Valdosta State head coach stood in the late-afternoon heat under the visitors stands at Henderson Stadium, he had a prediction.
I would be very, very surprised if they lose another game this year, he said after the 36-21 win over Fort Valley State. I dont know whos on their schedule, but I find it very hard to believe ...
They may go undefeated. We may end up -- hopefully, if we have an opportunity to get where we need to go -- facing those guys again, which is a little bit scary.
Fort Valley State is at FCS member Savannah State this week, and the Wildcats have two non-conference games upcoming against Division II Washburn (Texas) and Concordia-Selma (United States Collegiate Athletic Association).
Dean had talked in the past of Fort Valley States athleticism, but that hadnt done the Wildcats any good against the Blazers or most any other major opponent. But Fort Valley State stayed with Valdosta State for simple football reasons.
They did a lot of stunting up front and bringing edge pressure, he said of Fort Valley States defense. Both of those things caused us some problems in our run game.
And I think the one thing they did this year that they havent done in the past is they tackled very well.
We were able to slip some tackles last year. This year, they didnt miss those tackles. I think that was a big difference in forcing us to have to drive a lot.
In those three losses, by an average of 52-6, the Wildcats averaged 13 penalties for 110 yards, three interceptions and eight punts.
Saturday, the numbers werent very different: 12 penalties for 90 yards (with two for 25 yards on one second-quarter Valdosta State drive), eight punts and only one interception.
But the Blazers went against form and nearly matched the Wildcats with 10 penalties for 95 yards and two interceptions.
The Blazers did rack up 454 yards, including big plays of 69, 55, 42, 38 and 37 yards, as well as a 65-yard kickoff return. They outgained the Wildcats by 3.1 yards per play.
The Wildcats are in a kicking-game transition, and while they did miss a field goal, Fort Valley State punted and covered punts better.
Fort Valley State was in better condition for an opener than usual, and the Wildcats got solid performances from players who hadnt had a lot of practice time because of injuries or yearly administrative issues regarding financial aid, eligibility and the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Once those guys get into the system and get the practice time in (this) week, itll be the difference between day and night, Fort Valley State head coach Donald Pittman said.
GMC off to good start
Breaking in a new quarterback hasnt slowed Georgia Military College from bolting out to a 3-0 start and a No. 7 national ranking.
The Bulldogs opened with a 37-21 win at Blinn in Mississippi, then they ventured into the mountain region and upended No. 2 Snow in Utah 35-17.
Then finally able to spend a weekend not on a bus, GMC rolled to a 52-7 win over Atlanta Sports Academy.
Last month, head coach Bert Williams said Weve got some dudes, man on defense, and that unit is allowing 84.7 rushing yards (12th nationally) and 264 passing yards a game, with nine sacks (tied for eighth).
GMC is back on the road, but for a unique trip. The Bulldogs will play ASA Brooklyn at West Virginias 60,000-seat Mountaineer Field before returning home next week to host Arkansas Baptist.
A big debut
Apparently, some folks were ready for volleyball in Milledgeville.
An announced crowd of more than 2,500 watched Georgia Colleges debut in the sport last week, and they got what they wanted.
The Bobcats topped Fort Valley State 25-4, 25-20 and 25-15 to win in their first match.
Then some growing pains hit. Georgia College followed with four straight 3-1 losses in a tournament at West Georgia, falling to the host team, Valdosta State, West Alabama and Malone.
The Bobcats are at home this weekend against Montevallo on Friday and Columbus State and West Georgia on Saturday. Fort Valley State tries for revenge on Tuesday when Georgia College visits.