Florida Tech, Mississippi College set to face off Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT at Robinson-Hale Stadium
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Following a disappointing loss to Fort Valley State, Florida Tech will look to get back in the win column when it resumes Gulf South Conference action this Saturday on the road at Mississippi College.
Kickoff at Robinson-Hale Stadium is set for 8 p.m. ET in Clinton, Ms.
The Panthers have looked to put last week behind them after giving up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and falling to Fort Valley State, 33-29, at Panther Stadium. Tech had a chance late in the game to retake the lead but a failed pass attempt on a fourth and goal sank the Panthers chances as they fell to 3-2 on the season.
The loss marks the first time Florida Tech lost to an opponent from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) as the Panthers were 4-0 against the league heading into the matchup.
The Panthers now get to bounce-back against an opponent to which they are undefeated against in five tries.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Florida Tech owns a 5-0 record against Mississippi College, a program that has been playing football since 1907. The Choctaws join the Hawks of Shorter, as the two GSC teams who the Panthers are undefeated against all-time.
The Choctaws are 2-0 and averaging 31.5 points per game at Robinson-Hale Stadium this season. However, the Panthers have had great success on MC’s home field winning both games by a combined score of 66-14, including a 35-0 shutout in the past meeting in Clinton, in 2016.
Overall, Florida Tech has outscored Mississippi College 182-47 over the five games in the series, which includes two consecutive shutouts, 41-0 in 2016 and 35-0 in 2017.
The Panthers’ offense has really overpowered the Choctaws in the series; amassing 2,419 yards offense in the five games compared to 1,425 by MC. Tech has a 1,176-758 advantage in the rushing department, which includes a school-record 368-yard performance in the 2016 meeting at Panther Stadium.
Additionally, Tech nearly doubles up the Choctaws in yards through the air, 1,243-667. The Panthers have thrown for more than 200 yards in 4-of-5 meetings with MC.
Over the program’s seven seasons, Florida Tech is 20-19 all-time on the road, including an 8-12 road record versus GSC opponents.
MEET THE PANTHERS
The Panthers are led by seventh-year head coach Steve Englehart, who owns a 42-31 record at Florida Tech.
Tech is third in the GSC in total offense at 435.4 yards per game. The Panthers are second in the league in passing offense at 279.8 yards per game and are seventh in rushing offense (155.6).
Mike Diliello has completed 58.6% of his pass attempts for 858 yards and four touchdowns and two interceptions. Diliello is also Tech’s leading rusher with 326 total yards and a GSC-leading eight touchdowns. Drezyn Parson is the next leading rusher with 132 yards and a touchdown while Daniel Richardson has 127 yards and three touchdowns. Corey Lane is also a 100-yard rusher with 109 on 33 carries.
Miles Kelly leads the GSC with 438 receiving yards on 19 receptions this season. Kelly is joined by Brian Spurgeon, Jr., Damien McGhee and Simon Williams as Panthers with double-digit receptions and at least 100 receiving yards.
Evan Thompson, who paces the team with 35 tackles and 1.5 sacks to go along with an interception and a forced fumble, leads the Panthers’ defensive unit. John McClure has 34 tackles and Patrick Banks has 30 stops. Newcomer Scott Arnold has a team-best 4.0 tackles for loss this season. Tyrone Cromwell leads Tech with seven pass break-ups and two interceptions, including a pick-6 last week versus FVSU that he took 96 yards to the house.
MEET THE CHOCTAWS
The Choctaws’ head coach is John Bland who is in his sixth season at Mississippi College and owns a 9-36 overall record at the school.
MC opened the season against DI-FCS Alcorn State in the season opener and then posted victories over Albany State (24-17) and North Greenville (39-27) at home this season before falling in overtime to No. 25 West Florida (27-21) and at No. 1 Valdosta State (42-17).
MC’s offense is averaging 262.4 total yards per game. However, the group is led by a talented player at quarterback in Detric Hawthorn who leads the team with 216 rushing yards and scored a pair of touchdowns last Saturday against VSU. Jordan Wright is just behind with 213 rushing yards and two scores, while Jaylin Jones has rushed for 155 yards and a team-high four scores.
Defensively, the Choctaws held VSU to their lowest offensive output of the season, allowing 405 yards to a team that is averaging over 500 yards per contest this season. Jonathan Jones leads the squad with 33 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Derric Hawthorn has tallied 26 tackles and returned interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back games this season.
Fans who are unable to attend can watch the live broadcast of the game on the Choctaws All-Access channel.
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