The Fort Valley State Wildcats know the importance of their next game.
If they can beat Kentucky State on Saturday, they are still in the thick of the SIAC East race, with a chance to play in the conference championship game. But if they lose to the Thorobreds, they will have to get a lot of help from other teams to make it.
“We know we have to start playing our best football right now, and we know that Kentucky State is a very good football team that beat us last year,” said FVSU head coach Donald Pittman, whose team is 2-1 in the SIAC. “They have three coaches, including their head coach, Josh Dean, who used to coach with me here at Fort Valley State, and I know that they would love to come in here and beat us again.
“Right now, we still control our own destiny, because we have games with Morehouse and Albany State left, and they haven’t lost in the conference yet. Our kids know the importance of this game, and we have responded with our best week of practice.”
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FVSU is coming off of a frustrating 35-28 loss to Tuskegee, a game in which the Wildcats had the lead at halftime but gave it up in the first three minutes of the third quarter on a kickoff return for a touchdown and a interception return for a score.
Kentucky State had lost three straight games before winning against Central State a week ago. The Thorobreds are led by 230-pound running back Jacquise Lockett, who had 243 yards rushing in the last game, and has more than 500 yards.
“We know we have to adjust to all their crazy, unbalanced formations, and if we get guys in the correct gaps and everyone does their assignments, we should be able to slow their ground game down,” defensive back Andrew Campbell said. “I like our defense over their offense any day.”
Meanwhile, FVSU will look to quarterbacks Malcolm Eady and Otis Brown to lead the way. Both have continued to see playing time, and both have been effective, with Eady having 402 yards passing and 277 yards rushing, while Brown has rushed for 322 yards and passed for 511 yards and eight touchdowns, The leading receiver is freshman Drelon Freeman, who has 386 yards receiving in his four games to go with seven touchdowns.
“I think that we are very confident going into this game,” said Eady, who will also see time at running back. “We have had a very good week of practice, and we are ready to bounce back after a very tough loss last week.”