Florida Tech ends its five-game skid with a 17-14 victory over NGU on Saturday at Younts Stadium
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Trey Schaneville kicked a 23-yard field goal in the second overtime period and Florida Tech pulled off a much-needed victory as the Panthers defeated North Greenville 17-14 Saturday afternoon at Younts Stadium.
This is the first overtime win in program history and it came in the team’s first-ever appearance in overtime over the first seven years of Panther Football.
The victory also puts a halt to Florida Tech’s five-game losing streak, which dated back to the team’s 33-29 loss to Fort Valley State on Oct. 5 at Panther Stadium.
The Panthers are now 4-6 overall and 2-5 in GSC play. Today’s game was the season finale for the Crusaders as they end with a 3-7 record and a 3-5 mark in the league.
Mike Diliello got the Panthers on the board first when he found Derrick Wright for a 13-yard touchdown strike with 3:55 left in the first quarter, capping off a quick four-play, 82-yard drive.
It was Diliello’s eighth touchdown pass of the season and the first receiving touchdown of the year for Wright.
The Panthers doubled their lead when Daniel Richardson ran it in from 10 yards out with 1:16 left on the clock before halftime.
For Richardson, it was his fourth touchdown rush of the year and capped an 11-play, 62-yard drive. NGU finally got on the board on a 13-yard pass from Donny Baker to Lucas Catalfomo with 8:02 left in the third.
After driving down to the NGU27, the Panthers had a chance to increase their lead back to 10 on a 37-yard field goal attempt by Trey Schaneville. However, the Crusaders’ Dantevian Byrd broke through the line and blocked the kick.
Byrd then collected the loose ball himself and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-14 with 8:50 to go.
Neither team could find a game-winning score over the remainder of regulation causing the game to continue in overtime. The Panthers lost the coin toss and started with the football in the extra period.
The Crusaders brought the pressure in the first overtime period and had Diliello running all over the field. The redshirt-freshman made a mental mistake on a third-down play and was picked off by NGU’s Johnny Worthy in the endzone.
Worthy then tried to return it all the way back and made it to the NGU46.
After stopping Tech, the Crusaders now had the opportunity to win the game in their half of overtime. However, on a 4th & 1, North Greenville’s kicker Matt Gravely missed his game-winning field goal attempt wide left from 33 yards, giving life back to the Panthers.
This time it was the Florida Tech defense’s turn to be a menace in overtime. The Panthers rushed Baker three straight plays, resulting in a rushed incompletion and consecutive sacks by Scott Arnold and Thierry Lafortune.
On fourth down, the Crusaders had nothing to lose and Baker simply through it for the endzone and was intercepted by Dezmond Morgan at the TECH05.
Not taking any chances, the Panthers chose to run the ball six straight plays and set up for a close field goal. Diliello had five carries on the drive to position Schaneville in a good spot, and the sophomore kicker took care of the rest with a 23-yard boot down the middle.
As soon as the kick was in, the entire Panther team sprinted across the field in jubilation. Chasing down the hero Schaneville to celebrate the hard-fought victory in their final road game of the season.
“I’m just proud of our guys,” exclaimed head coach Steve Englehart.
“You know, it’s been tough for them obviously riding a five-game losing streak. They have been through a lot and they keep fighting and trying. For them to keep fighting like that today through two overtimes and come out with the win, it say a lot about them.
“It was a fun win. Not only was it our first overtime win but it happened in our first overtime. It was fun to be a part of it. We just kept plugging away and finally broke through with a win. We have to give a lot of credit to North Greenville as well. They did a lot to put themselves in a position to win as well.”
Florida Tech outgained NGU 343-204 in the contest, including a 158-75 advantage on the ground. The Panthers limited the Crusaders to just 1.8 yards per carry in the game and stopped NGU on 3-of-4 red zone opportunities.
Mike Diliello completed 15-of-25 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Drezyn Parson led the team with 77 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Daniel Richardson finished with 45 yards and a score on 10 touches. Wright paced the Panthers with four receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown, while Miles Kelly had three catches for 21 yards. Robert Foy hauled in two receptions for 70 yards, including 63-yard catch-and-run.
Malachi Timberlake recorded a team-best 7.5 tackles in the game to go along with two pass breakups. John McClure notched 6.5 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss. Evan Thompson collected 5.5 tackles, one sack and two quarterback hurries. TJ Harrell also added 5.5 tackles in the game.
The Panthers’ defensive line was impressive as the unit of Eric Johanning, Arnold, Lafortune, Chris Dascher and Ian Pittman combined for 9.5 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss.
“Our defense has been playing well the last few games and it has to do with them getting more comfortable in the defense,” Englehart stated.
“They’re young players and it just takes some time to get used to a new game plan and defensive coaching staff. However, I do believe certain areas, particularly our defensive line, are getting better and producing more as those young guys get more playing time.”
Florida Tech will try to end the season on a winning streak when the Panthers host GSC rival Shorter in the season finale and Senior Day Game next Saturday, Nov. 16, at Panther Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.