Despite of valiant defensive effort and on a day where head coach Kevin Porter was named SIAC coach of the year, the Fort Valley State University Wildcats came up short in their bid for back-to-back SIAC championship victories as they lost a defensive battle 13-6.
The Wildcat defense held the visiting Tuskegee Tigers to a touchdown in each half however the offense was unable to capitalize on several short fields off turnovers generated by the defense.
The offense only managed two field goals during the contest and although they were able to run the ball consistently the pass game was largely ineffective.
The defense was able to force a Tigers punt and gave the ball back to the Wildcat offense with two minutes remaining on the their 40-yard line. After a holding penalty negated their first down play, they were unable to muster a comeback rally and the fourth-down Slade Jarman scramble came up short of keeping the drive alive.
With 6:52 remaining in the second quarter, Fort Valley was able to intercept Tuskegee quarterback Jamarcus Ezell. They marched the ball down to the three-yard line before fumbling the snap in settling for a 33-yard field goal by senior Juan Serna.
On the subsequent Tiger drive, the defense was able to force a fumble that was recovered by junior Aaron Dore. The offense was unable to gain more than one first down and Serna missed a 41-yard field goal attempt in the quarter.
What could have been a 14-point swing ended with only three points for the Wildcats.
Three who mattered
Jamari Clark: The sophomore running back was the sole consistent offense for the Wildcats totaling 80 yards on 20 carries.
Malcolm Garrett: The freshman defensive tackle made his presence felt early and often in the Tuskegee backfield. He had four total tackles including two tackles for losses, and a myriad of plays that would never show up in a stat book.
Aaron Dore: Junior safety recorded seven tackles a pass breakup and a fumble recovery earning him the turnover sledgehammer. Dore has constantly found himself around the football all season and today was no exception.
This Wildcat defense is lights out: On a day where the offense could never seem to get into a rhythm, the defense constantly kept them in the game and gave them opportunities to win it. They were able to hold a Tuskegee offense who averages a little over 27 points per game to 13.
They said it!
Head Coach Kevin Porter on winning SIAC coach of the year honors: “I think they got the award name wrong. I think the award should be coaches of the year because our entire staff did a tremendous job.”
Porter on the difference between winning and losing games: “It's always five or six plays. The great thing is that it's only five or six plays, the horrible thing about it is that you don't know as a player when those five or six plays are going to occur.”
Senior DB Karonta Donaldson on what he expects from the defensive backs next year: “I just want them to continue to want to be great. Whether it's practice, workouts, or watching film, I want them to keep that swagger!”
Senior DT Devonte’ West on the young defensive lineman carrying on the legacy: “I want them to have a sense of pride about wearing that blue and gold for the ones that played before us and know that they are the heart and soul of the team.”
Senior linebacker Cannon Thomas on his expectations for the linebackers.: “I want the LB’s to remember that everything starts with them. From the weight room to the classroom to the field, thru control the game.”
With a full complement of weapons returning on offense and essentially an entire defense intact for next year, the Wildcats will go into the offseason fully expecting to be right back in the SIAC championship in 2018.