Every game these two teams play always goes down-to-the-wire. Delta State had won its previous six meetings with Valdosta but each of those games was decided by eight points or less.
This year’s Gulf South Conference match-up between the two teams was a high scoring shootout, but this time the Blazers came away with a 59-41 victory in Valdosta, Ga. Delta State fell to 3-4 with a 1-2 mark in the GSC, while Valdosta State improved to 6-2 with a 3-1 mark in the GSC.
Delta State didn’t go down without a fight.
Trailing 38-20 in the third quarter, the Statesmen roared back with authority. Trevor Wooden connected with Erick Clayton on a 70-yard TD pass, Wooden marched on a nine-yard TD run and Wooden threw his second touchdown pass of the quarter by connecting with Lavon Downs on a 32-yard pass. D.J. Jarrin kicked the extra point after the second touchdown, while Wooden connected with Downs for the 2-point conversion after the third touchdown to put the Statesmen ahead 41-38 with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
The Blazers battled back with a furry as Cayden Cochran fired a pass to Seantavious Jones that resulted in a 33-yard touchdown pass. Daniel Anderson kicked the extra point to put Valdosta State up again 45-41 with 2:37 left in the third. The score would remain 45-41 going into the fourth quarter.
With 13:13 left in the game, the Blazers put up some more points as Cedric O’Neal marched on a one-yard touchdown run. Anderson kicked the extra point again, and the Blazers took a 52-41 lead. O’Neal struck again with 4:38 left in the game as he scored on a six-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick from Anderson again was good, and Valdosta State extended its lead to 59-41, which ended up being the final.
Both teams racked up a combined 1,079 yards of total offense. Valdosta State had 624 yards on 81 plays, while Delta State had 455 yards on 68 plays. The ground game proved to be a big difference as the Statesmen were held to just 115 yards on 34 carries. Valdosta racked up 212 rushing yards on 45 carries.
Third down conversions were also big as Valdosta was 8-of-15 on the third down conversions, while DSU was just 3-of-13.
Wooden led DSU’s offense as he completed 14-of-34 passes for 340 yards with four touchdowns but threw three interceptions. He also rushed for 40 yards with a touchdown on 18 carries.
Patrick Bethley was DSU’s leading receiver with two catches for 134 yards. Both of his catches resulted in touchdowns. Clayton caught three passes for 84 yards with a touchdown, while Lavon Downs caught three passes for 71 yards with a touchdown to aid DSU's receiving corps.
Rondreas Truesdale led DSU’s ground game with 73 rushing yards on 11 carries.
On defense for DSU, Montavius Hill led the Statesmen with 10 total tackles, followed by C.J. Lester with seven, Ixavier Triplett with six and Kenny Barnes with four tackles and an interception.
For Valdosta State, Cayden Cochran led the Blazers by completing 25-of-36 passes for 412 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. O’Neal rushed for 160 yards with two touchdowns on 33 carries, while Jones caught nine passes for 210 yards with four touchdowns to round out VSU’s offense.
On defense for VSU, Jeremy Grable recorded 10 tackles with a sack to lead the team. DSU will return to action on Saturday when the team hosts the University of West Alabama for the homecoming at Travis E. Parker Field at Horace McCool Stadium.