Football Gets Blazed by Valdosta State
By Cody Parker, Sports Editor
The UNCP football team went down big in the first half of their game against Valdosta State on Nov. 8 and were unable to dig themselves out of that hole, losing 36-7.
The Blazers put up 29 points in the first half and blanked the Black and Gold until the fourth quarter.
The 15 seniors on the team were honored before the game.
“It was a special day for them; however, you wish you could give them a little bit better of an outcome,” said Head Coach Shane Richardson.
In addition to honoring the seniors, the game was dedicated as military appreciation day.
Members of UNCP’s Army ROTC program led the team out to the field, and the coaching staff wore camouflage pants given to them by the Army ROTC program.
“…really want to thank all of the military service men and women and veterans for the upcoming Veteran’s Day,” Richardson said.
Valdosta State’s first scoring drive was predicated on a strong running attack as they ran the ball seven times in the drive. However, the play that put them into the end-zone was a pass. A 29-yard strike from Kaleb Nobles to Shane Henderson put the Blazers on the board first.
This was a sign of things to come as the two would connect for two more touchdowns in the game.
All three came from routes up the middle of the field.
Coach Richardson said Henderson was a good player, but the touchdowns were caused by schematical breakdowns on defense.
The Blazers added a field goal in the final 30 seconds of the quarter to take a 9-0 lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter is when Valdosta State really broke the game open.
Nobles threw two touchdown passes in that second quarter, including his second to Henderson.
Two of Valdosta State’s second quarter touchdowns came in the final three minutes of the half.
The first was on a fumble recovery that was taken back for a touchdown.
UNCP’s Seth Owen was scrambling to avoid the rush and fumbled the ball.
The Black and Gold followed that up by going three and out on their next possession. This gave the Blazers one minute and 13 seconds left in the half to try and score again. Nobles threw his third touchdown of the half to D’Amonte Ridley with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Braves’ only score of the game came off the arm of Reggie Pinner early in the fourth quarter.
It was third and 14 to go and Pinner rolled out to his right and lobbed the ball toward the back of the end-zone where Jonathan Hough ran to make a tough over-the-shoulder catch.
The last score of the game mirrored the first as Nobles and Henderson once again connected up the middle of the field to bring the score to its final of 36-7.
This was the final home game those 15 seniors will take part in, and the team goes into the final game of the season with a 1-8 record.
“…having the opportunity to go out and compete and play college football, and not everybody gets to do that.” Richardson said of what he wanted the team to feel headed into the final game of the season.
Photo by Stefanie Smith. Rontonio Stanley tries to elude a defender in the game against Valdosta State.