Caleb Edmonds saw his pass attempt hit the hands of a Valdosta State defensive lineman and deflect into the hands of sliding linebacker Dante Robinson.
Edmonds might have given a prized possession to have that throw back.
Robinson’s interception at the Albany State five-yard line gave the Blazers a first-and-goal where two plays later, Dallas Baldner hauled in a short touchdown pass from quarterback Roland Rivers to give Valdosta State the lead.
The Blazers never trailed again on their way to a 16-7 victory over Albany State in front of 5,401 in the season opener for both teams Saturday night at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, continuing VSU’s dominance between the two Southwest Georgia schools. The Blazers improved to 17-1 all-time in the series.
It was a victorious coaching debut for Valdosta State coach Kerwin Bell, whose Blazers were outgained on the ground 220-67 as well as through the air (157 to 137). But four ASU interceptions led to 10 Valdosta State points, including Robinson’s pick that set up the Blazers with the go-ahead score with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
Edmonds, trying to make something happen with the Rams deep in their own territory, may have tried to do too much. Albany State led 7-3 and its defense had kept a potent VSU offense grounded.
“You know, the guy tipped it up and when the ball goes into the air like that, it’s bad,” said Edmonds, who finished with 157 yards passing on 15 of 30.
“No quarterback likes that and no offense likes that. It’s going to be bad most of the time.”
Albany State coach Dan Land wasn’t happy with the turnover, but he chalked it up as a learning experience.
“We made a play down there and there was just miscommunication where it was at,” Land said. “We didn’t want that type of route, but what happened was there was miscommunication between Caleb and the sideline. We wanted a fade route, and he did an out route and their guy threw his hands up. It was a good play by them and a bad play by us.”
Land refused to say that the third-quarter interception led to the outcome.
“We still had opportunities to make some more plays to get back into the game,” he said. “We just didn’t and the second half just didn’t go our way. We made good calls, offensively and defensively, and the defense got a little tired because the offense wasn’t on the field long enough to give them a break. It worked all the way around, we’ve just got to finish in the second half, we just got to do it.”
Valdosta State (1-0) scored all of its points during the third quarter, overcoming a 7-0 deficit.
Edmonds engineered a 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive midway through the second quarter that culminated with his six-yard touchdown run. He was 3 for 3 on the drive, completing a pair of passes to former Westover High standout Ta’Keevian Harris as well as a key 21-yard pass to freshman Tyler Storey to move the Rams inside the VSU 25.
The Rams held Valdosta State to just 33 yards of total offense in the first two quarters.
However, the Rams’ second possession of the second half helped the Blazers get on the scoreboard when a pick by Andre Johnson at the Albany State 26 led to an eventual 43-yard field goal.The Blazers’ longest scoring drive was 42 yards after an 11-yard ASU punt late in the third quarter. Quarterback Roland Rivers scored on a nine-yard scamper to make it 16-7.
Albany State marched to the VSU 29 early in the fourth quarter before another interception killed the Rams’ chances.
As tough as it was for the ASU players to swallow, safety Nick Scott said the Rams must make the necessary corrections before meeting Tuskegee next Saturday in the White Water Classic in Phenix City, Ala.
“We’ve got to learn from it and build on it so we can improve the rest of the season,’” he said.
Land said he saw several positives, but he was disappointed that Albany State once again didn’t find a way to finish the game after leading at halftime.
“The biggest thing I was telling them at the beginning is that we had to finish,” he said. “That was what we harped about all last year, and that was what we went into this year saying that we wanted to finish. We just didn’t get it done tonight. But I saw some good things out there, I really did.
“The second half, we just got to come out and do the things we need to do and make sure we don’t make the mistakes we did again.”http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/third-quarter-surge-sends-valdosta-state-past-albany-state/article_1711169c-720d-58d8-8b9b-af76701207e8.html