Fort Valley State scored 21 unanswered points in the second half Saturday to beat Albany State 21-17 in the 27th annual Fountain City Classic at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.
With the victory, Fort Valley State (4-6, 3-1 conference) advances to the SIAC championship game, to be held Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama. The Wildcats will play Kentucky State, a team that beat Fort Valley State in the regular season 26-10.
“This is huge for our program, huge for our kids,” Fort Valley State head coach Kevin Porter said. “I’m happy for the fans. It’s been awhile since we’ve beaten Albany State. They have a fabulous program.”
The game was all Albany State in the first half. The Golden Rams took the opening drive 67 yards for a touchdown. Caleb Edmonds passed 4 yards to Treyvon Vallery to finish the drive. The Golden Rams led 7-0.
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Albany State made it 14-0 when running back Treyvon Vallery scored from 1 yard out, which completed a 12-play, 61-yard drive.
Offensively, The Golden Rams were led by Edmonds, who passed for 131 yards and rushed for 44 yards, and Vallery, who scored two touchdowns.
Albany State added a field goal in the second quarter and led 17-0 at halftime.
In the second half, however, the defense stepped up for Fort Valley State and shut out the Golden Rams. The Wildcats defense was led by senior defensive back Brian Walker, who recorded nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. Williams was named MVP of the game.
“It feels great,” said Williams. “I’m very excited. Can’t wait to play Kentucky State next week.”
Offensively, Fort Valley State looked sharper in the second half and came out aggressively throwing the ball more.
At 12:12 to play in the third quarter, Otis Brown connected with Bodarius Johnson for an 18-yard scoring strike, cutting the score to 17-7.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, Fort Valley State struck again when Samuel Ryan returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown. That trimmed the score to 17-14.
The winning score for Fort Valley came at 9:45 in the fourth quarter when Brown found Johnson again for a 39-yard touchdown across the middle of the field.
Albany State threatened to score late in the fourth quarte,r but twice they failed to convert on fourth down and turned the ball over on downs.
Difference maker: Johnson had five catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Individual stats: Albany State running back Jarvis Small, 80 yards, 17 carries. Albany State receiver Quadrey Simmons, 4 catches, 82 yards. Brown, 13-of-26, 186 yards, two touchdowns
Coach quote: “We challenged our kids at halftime to be more physical. We challenged them to execute better. They responded and we capitalized on some opportunities,” Porter said.
Player quote: “The coaches challenged us, and we accepted the challenge,” Walker said. “This team has not given up all year.”