VALDOSTA, GA – It was two and a half hours late, but the Albany State (2-1, 0-0 SIAC) verses Valdosta State (3-0, 0-0 GSC) game wasn’t one of those fancy high-scoring games. Instead it was a gritty battle where the Blazers who had torched their previous two opponents by scoring 50+ points had to earn every yard. In the end the Blazers would prevail 21-3, but ASU hsowed grit in the rain-drenched game an Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
The Golden Ram defense led the charge. Brandarious Rawling was disruptive with 14 total tackles. He had eight solo tackles and four assists, with two tackles-for loss. Rawlings also had two pass breakups. Josh Hill and Antonio Leroy Jr., each chipped I seven tackles on the night.
Kicker/punter Gabriel Ballinas also had a masterful day. His pinpoint placement on punts kept the Blazers’ backs to the end zone. He punted a total of eight times with a long of 51 yards, pinning the blazers inside the 20 on four of those kicks. He added the Golden Rams’ only score with a 19-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Coach Gabe Giardina felt some areas performed better than others. ” Defensively and in the kicking game we really played well. We had some real bright spots. Offensively we have to be honest with ourselves and know that when you turn the ball over four times and you go 4-for-21 passing it’s not going to be good enough to win,” he said.
In the end, it was the passing efficiency of the Golden Rams that would undo the powerful offense. ASU gained only 65 yards passing, well below their season average. Quarterback Dionte Bonneau was just 4-21 with two interceptions throwing the soaked balls.
The ASU running backs were the sparks for the offense. Marcuis Fulks gained 96 yards on the day, carrying it 17 times for a 5.5 yards-per-rush average. Kam Ward carried the ball 12 times for 44 yards, while Bonneau gained 44 yards.
“Our team has not lost its resolve. They were great in the locker room and after the game they were very united and positive. The guys did a great job of remaining loose in the locker room in the delay. They understand what persistence is all about and came out ready to play. This team would play at midnight in a parking lot,” Giardina said.
Calvin Lewis V led the receiving corps with two catches for 39 yards. Javon Wooten had one long catch for 30 yards, which was mostly run-after-catch as he weaved through the VSU defense.
5 Takeaways from ASU vs VSU game:
• The ASU Golden Rams are resilient after sitting for 2.5 hours before playing the game
• ASU held the VSU Blazer under 50 points for the first time this season
• Gabriel Ballinas has uncanny precision, sticking four punts inside the 20
• Brandarious Rawlings wreaked havoc on the VSU offense
• Marcuis Fulks is a gritty runner, gaining nearly 100-yards
Next up for the Golden Rams. Albany State will host the Clark-Atlanta Panthers at the ASU Coliseum on Sat., Sept.25 in a 7:00PM kickoff. The game is “Take a Kid to the Game Day.” Listen to the Golden Rams live on https://www.praise1055.com/