FORT VALLEY -- Fort Valley State topped Paine in a low-scoring tussle 23-10 on Saturday in the Wildcats’ homecoming game.
The defensive side of the ball for Fort Valley State was the difference for as the Wildcats intercepted three passes -- one taken back for a touchdown -- partially blocked a punt, connected on a safety and made a gigantic stop near the goal line on a fourth-down play while the Lions were rapidly moving the football down the field in the fourth quarter.
Key stop after key stop was the calling card for the Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 SIAC) throughout the game.
“Great” was the word used by Fort Valley State head coach Donald Pittman to describe his feelings on what a win on homecoming meant.
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“Our defense made some adjustments at halftime and came up with some big plays,” Pittman said.
Early in the first quarter, Fort Valley State quarterback Otis Brown connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Drelon Freeman that put the Wildcats up 7-0.
Paine quarterback Loranzo Hammonds, who produced 301 total yards of offense, threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antonio White to even the score at 7.
After a field goal by Paine with 5:45 to go in the second quarter put the Lions (1-7, 0-4) up 10-7, Fort Valley State partially blocked an 11-yard punt and recovered the ball at Paine’s 25 that led to a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Jalen White off an option toss that gave the Wildcats a 14-10 lead going into halftime.
The second half proved to be an offensive struggle for both teams, but the Wildcats’ defense came through as they tacked on two points, the result of a sack for a safety by defensive tackle Billy Sparks. Fort Valley State added a touchdown on Michael Lee’s 77-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“I knew it was going to be a good defense game because they have an excellent defense,” Pittman said. “They have an excellent defense, but we have one, also.”