Fort Valley State head coach Kevin Porter said his players never worried about reaching the SIAC championship game.
That was especially true when the Wildcats were 1-6 in October.
But Fort Valley State did make it to the conference championship game, and the Wildcats won it, beating Kentucky State 33-30 on Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama.
“Our focus was never to get to the championship game. It was to just keep playing and then play your best ball at the end of the season,” said Porter, whose team finished with four straight wins to end up at 5-6 in his first season with the program. “Our kids could have quit, but they didn’t. They kept believing in what we were doing, and that’s a tribute to them.”
Even Saturday, the Wildcats could have quit after the Thorobreds took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Wildcats kept fighting back, and Juan Serna nailed a 37-yard field goal with 1:31 left to tie the score and force overtime. Both teams made field goals in the first overtime, and while Kentucky State added another field goal in the second overtime, Fort Valley State got an 11-yard touchdown pass from Otis Brown to Chauncey Jackson for the win.
Brown rushed for a team-high 52 yards and completed 17-of-31 passes for 254 yards to eight different receivers. Camron Young and Ryan Bowman led the Wildcats’ defense with nine tackles each.
“We’re all really excited,” Porter said. “It’s just really a tribute the kids and how they just kept coming to work every day and come game time, just playing each play and not worrying about the result. I’m proud of our kids and their effort.”