FORT VALLEY -- It took Fort Valley State nine games to play like head coach Donald Pittman expected.
Pittman has been preaching glass-full optimism all season, that it was a matter of time before the Wildcats clicked on offense.
That time came Saturday night.
Quarterback Malcolm Eady ran and passed the Wildcats up and down the field en route to a 46-19 win over Morehouse at Wildcat Stadium.
Those on hand saw FVSU (4-5, 3-0 SIAC) deal the knockout punch in the second quarter and never let Morehouse (2-7, 0-4) start a rally.
I would think wed get rolling faster, Pittman said. We didnt get into sync until later on, but thats fine.
Eady was 10-of-21 for 193 yards and one tipped interception with three touchdowns in about three quarters, adding 89 rushing yards.
DeAngelo Smith caught seven passes for 140 yards and three scores as the seniors went out in style on their night in the home finale.
Senior JaBioas Glenn (Dooly County) returned an interception for a touchdown, and senior Calvin Jackson (Southwest) had a pick, as well. Tracey White and Thomas Wolfe also had interceptions.
Albany State did its part to set up the Fountain City Classic as the East Division championship with a 31-6 win over Benedict. The Wildcats and Rams kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus for the right to play in the SIAC championship.
The big news for the Wildcats was that it took until the final four minutes of the second quarter for them to get a 15-yard penalty, which they immediately followed with a pass interference call. That put the Maroon Tigers at the FVSU 36, until LeRon Furrs sack on the next play.
A few snaps later at the FVSU 20, Glenn read the play and picked off a pass to easily cruise 80 yards for the touchdown and a 33-0 lead with 2:21 left in the half.
I watched a lot of film, Glenn said. I saw on the sideline a coach give a call. I knew it was coming.
FVSU was credited for 91 yards on nine first-half penalties, and the Wildcats were suddenly on target to yet again pass their growing penalty average.
They finished with 11 for 111 yards, below average in both areas.
Ooh, thats still bad, Glenn said. Were still working on it. Weve got to improve this week.
Other than that, it was a quality evening for the Wildcats, who went up early on Eadys 18-yard pass to Smith a little more than two minutes into the game, set up Morehouses fumble on the kickoff.
FVSU muddled through most of the quarter before taking over on its 23 after a punt.
Eady kept for 22, then dumped a pass to Michael Bellamy, who turned in a dazzling a 27-yard catch-and-run.
Eady and Smith hooked up for 17, and then Jonquez Sanders went in from the 3 two plays later, and it was 13-0 only 87 seconds into the second quarter, the PAT failing.
The defense got the ball back with a sack and forced fumble by DeRon Furr that was recovered by Peach County alum Kelcey Lewis at the Morehouse 32. Sanders got the call from the 1.
The defense did it again, with Gregory Thomass sack and forced fumble, recovered by Putnam County grad Bernard Little. Three plays later, Smith made a nice adjustment on the pass and outfought his defender for a 20-yard scoring catch. Chris Wards kick was good for a 26-0 lead at the 4:51 mark.
Thats my go-to guy, Eady said of Smith. That touchdown was all him.
FVSU outgained Morehouse 201-73 in the first half, the Wildcats defense recording 17 negative yards.
DeRon Furr was ejected for targeting late in the first half, that initial FVSU 15-yard penalty. He stood on the sidelines in long shorts and a sweatshirt in the second half, but will be eligible for the entire Albany State game.
He wasnt missed, although Morehouse did have an efficient scoring drive to open the third quarter, going 75 yards on 10 plays in 3:12 to break the shutout. Eady threw a strike to Smith for a 58-yard score midway through the third.
The Maroon Tigers picked up two more second half touchdowns against FVSUs backups, hardly spoiling the night.
I think everybodys coming together now, Eady said. Were seeing progress.