December 5, 2020

Florida Tech upsets No. 1 Wolves

(Melbourne, FL/uwgsports.com) — The West Georgia Wolves fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday afternoon in Melbourne, Fla., as a furious second-half comeback came up just short against the Florida Tech Panthers, as FIT beat West Georgia 28-26 at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

The game was billed as one of the biggest in the history of the Florida Tech program, as it was Homecoming, Senior Day and their first home matchup against a top-ranked opponent.

In addition, the game had postseason implications for both, as the Wolves came into the contest as the top-ranked team both in the nation and the region and Florida Tech was ranked 8th in the region.

How it Happened
Florida Tech opened the game with methodical drive, going 75 yards in nine plays while taking 3:17 off of the clock to take a 7-0 lead on 21-yard touchdown pass from Mark Cato to tight end Gabe Whitt. The tight ends were a big part of the first half for the Panthers, as the two FIT tight ends combined for 12 catches for 132 yards.

After the touchdown, the Wolves went 3-and-out and were forced to punt. On the ensuing punt, the exchange between the UWG long snapper Daniel Vining and punter James Dugan was mishandled. The ball popped free and the Panthers came up with it in the end zone to stretch their lead to 14-0 with 6:27 left in the first quarter.

West Georgia responded quickly, using just six plays to go 67 yards and redshirt freshman Wil Garrett ran it in for the score, his eighth of the season. The two-point conversion was no good and UWG trailed 28-6.

(Photo: floridatechsports.com)

(Photo Credit: floridatechsports.com)

The two teams went scoreless for the bulk of the second quarter until late in the period, when Cato struck again with a 31-yard pass to Whitt for the touchdown and a 21-6 advantage.

On the ensuing possession, Dallas Dickey was intercepted over the middle and the return gave FIT the ball at the UWG4. Three plays later, West Georgia found itself down 28-6 heading into the locker room after a quarterback sneak from Cato for the touchdown.

The second half was a different story, as the Wolves reeled off 20 unanswered points, beginning with a 20-yard touchdown run from Devontae Jackson to cap the opening drive of the period. After a three-and-out courtesy of the UWG defense, West Georgia mounted yet another drive, going 43 yards in 10 plays to make the score 28-19 after another Wil Garrett touchdown.

Following that score, the defense rose to the occasion once more and forced a turnover, an interception by senior linebacker Marion Chapman at the FIT 30 yard line. The UWG offense pounced on, finishing off a short drive with a three-yard score from Jackson, making the score 28-26 with 13:13 left in the fourth quarter.

At that point, lightning detectors went off in Florida Tech Panther Stadium, forcing a 30-minute lightning delay. After the delay, Florida Tech mounted a methodical drive with the running game, reaching the UWG red zone before Dylan Donahue forced a fumble that was recovered by Zed Brown in the end zone.

After an exchange of punts, the Wolves took over with 1:48 left in the contest. The Wolves gained positive yardage on the first two plays of the drive, but on 3rd-and-1, Garrett was sacked for an 11-yard loss, forcing a tough fourth-down play. Senior quarterback Dallas Dickey found senior receiver Shaq Hall over the middle, but the pass fell to the turf, ending the game.

Jackson had his best day running the ball, rushing 21 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Dickey had 14 carries for 85 yards and Wil Garrett had two touchdowns, giving him nine for the season. Dylan Donahue. Alex Armah and Carlos Hutton each had six tackles on the day, with Donahue coming up with a sack and a forced fumble.

What it Means
West Georgia falls to 9-1 on the season, 5-1 in Gulf South Conference play, while FIT moves to 7-3 and 5-1 against conference opponents. The Wolves, Panthers and North Alabama are all now tied atop the GSC standings.

If each wins next week (UWGvShorter, FITvValdosta, UNAvUWA), then there will be a three-way tie for the Gulf South Conference title.

The biggest question is what will happen in the region standings, as UWG is now 9-1, UNA is 7-2 and were the top two teams this past week. The region rankings will come out on Monday. The top team in the region receives a bye in the first round and the top seven teams get into the NCAA Playoffs.

Next Up
West Georgia will return home for the 2015 regular season finale on Senior Day and Public Servants Day in University Stadium. Kickoff for the contest is set for 2:00 p.m.

For up to date news and information on all University of West Georgia athletics visit www.uwgsports.com.

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