FORT VALLEY -- In a game in which Fort Valley State saw its starting quarterback leave the game in the first half, the road to victory was paved by the defense and special teams in a convincing 33-3 win over Benedict on Saturday.
Two first-half interceptions by George Maxey were good for a 5-yard return for a touchdown and the other set up a 2-yard run by Malcolm Eady. And a punt return by Drelon Freeman set up a 32-yard field goal by Juan Serna, who also drilled a 46-yarder in the first quarter.
It all added up to a 20-0 halftime lead for FVSU. The Wildcats improve to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the SIAC while Benedict remains winless at 0-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play. FVSU hosts Alderson Broaddus on Saturday and resumes SIAC play Oct. 10 at Kentucky State.
“Right now, we’re 3-0 in the conference. We just have to finish the second half of the season strong,” Maxey said.
The Wildcats’ defensive front overwhelmed the Tigers throughout the game, holding them to 116 yards of offense and forcing four interceptions.
“That’s a credit to our defensive coordinator, Coach (Richard) Jones and a lot of film study,” Maxey said. “Just studying different routes, different schemes. The coaches made the right calls and put us in position.”
Maxey’s interceptions turned out to be well-timed. FVSU lead 3-0 before a Serna punt pinned Benedict as its own 3. After a 2-yard loss, Tigers quarterback Patrick Hoard’s pass was tipped and fell into the waiting arms of Maxey, who came up with the ball and muscled his way into the end zone for the score with 8:16 to go in the first half.
“The ball was in the air, and I just to make a move for it and get into the end zone,” Maxey said.
Maxey nearly had another pick-six on the next Benedict drive. He stepped in front of an errant pass by Foster, returning it down the sideline from near midfield before being pushed out of bounds at the 2. Eady, coming off the bench in place of injured quarterback Otis Brown, found the end zone on his first full series, working his way through the middle for the touchdown from 2 yards away.
The Wildcats poured it on in the second half, scoring 14 third quarter points on a pair of Eady touchdown passes. After the Tigers got on the board with a 32-yard field goal, FVSU answered with a long 70-yard pass from Eady to Jevon Bell to lead 27-3 and got into the end zone again with Eady finding an open Freeman in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and 33-3 lead.
Eady was 5-of-9 for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Jalen White’s 39 yards on seven carries led the Wildcats’ rushing attack.
Brown left the game in the second quarter after an apparent shoulder injury. He rushed 28 times for 27 yards and completed 5-of-6 passes and was intercepted once.