Fort Valley State rode more than 500 miles last week to take on Kentucky State.
The Wildcats were nice homecoming guests in losing 17-11 with top-20 Washburn on the road next on the schedule, so FVSU needed a superb week of practice in hopes of regrouping.
The problems? The game is Thursday, and its in Topeka, Kansas. All of a sudden, a bus ride to Frankfort isnt so bad.
As a season with potential possibly spirals out of control, FVSU left Tuesday for the drive of nearly 1,000 miles through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri before finally arriving to take on the 13th-ranked Ichabods on Thursday night. Its the shortest of weeks for the Wildcats, who fell to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in SIAC play last week.
They didnt score an offensive touchdown, managing two safeties and an interception return for a touchdown by Thomas Wolfe III. FVSU couldnt crack the 200-yard mark in total offense, its 196 still 11 yards more than Kentucky State.
We had some dropped balls, head coach Donald Pittman said. People were open in the passing game, and we missed them, and we dropped balls. We missed blocks here and there, and we had penalties kill drives also.
Nick McDaniels 43 yards led the ground game, and quarterback Eugene Smith was only 9-of-25 (36 percent) for 106 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Adding to that, he was sacked four times.
And again, the defense -- now No. 6 nationally in yards allowed -- did its part, with two sacks and two interceptions and by holding the Thorobreds to 1.8 yards per carry and 3.6 yards per play.
We just didnt have a good game offensively, Pittman said.
Still, the Wildcats hope to benefit from a weak East Division of the SIAC, which is 4-10 in conference play and 9-20 overall compared to 13-7 and 20-14 for teams in the West.
FVSU is a half-game ahead of Clark Atlanta and two ahead of Benedict. Albany State is 0-1 and Morehouse 0-2. The Wildcats remain out of conference next week with homecoming against Concordia-Selma and then host Morehouse on Nov. 2.
The thing about it is, were still in first place in the division, Pittman said. And we have time to fix whatever we need to fix.
Thursdays game has no impact on the standings, but a quality performance could turn the season around.
Washburn is in the top 10 in scoring offense and defense, interceptions, pass efficiency defense and takeaways, plus in the top 25 in several other categories.
The Ichabods were picked to finish fourth and sixth in the 14-team Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The MIAA has five ranked teams and three in the top 10.
The only SIAC team to get any votes is Tuskegee, which is 32nd. So a good night by FVSU would bolster a down conference, as well.
We have nothing to lose, Pittman said. If we win, thats ... a season-maker.