Courtesy of Fort Valley State Athletics
FORT VALLEY, Ga. – The final Wildcat Stadium days will always bring a smile to a dozen Wildcat seniors. Fort Valley State scored three times in a six-minute span of the third quarter and ran away from Morehouse College, 56-28, on the gridiron Saturday afternoon for ‘Senior Day.’
Leading by only one score, 21-14, at half, the top Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference running back Emanuel Wilsontook over. On his fourth-straight carry of the second possession of the third frame, Wilson was gone for 60 yards and the touchdown. The FVSU score started a run of three touchdowns in a row. A 13-yard Gentry Sparks screen pass from Kelvin Durham before Wilson turned another short Durham toss into a 54-yard touchdown and suddenly the Wildcats raced ahead, 49-14, and never looked back against the Maroon Tigers.
With the victory, FVSU improved to 6-1 and 3-1 in the SIAC East. The six wins sealed the first Wildcat winning season under fledgling Head Coach Shawn Gibbs and last time since their 6-4 finish of the 2019 campaign.
FVSU also sent 12 seniors playing their final game in Wildcat Stadium – DB Tyler Moore, QB Darius Douglas, WR Jaren Lawson, WR Shaw Robinson, DB Deon Andrews, LB Ethan Manns, DB Christian Maddox, DL Tyson Latimore, DL Bryce McGuire, C Emanuel Boone, OL Waylin Bell and WR Kevin Epps – went away with a last home victory.
Wilson, the top SIAC back, touched the football only 12 times on Saturday, but he more than made the most of them with 211 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. After he had only 59 yards in the first half, Wilson more than doubled it with a finishing total of 129 yards on nine carries and scoring rushes of two and 60 yards. The redshirt junior pulled in three passes for 82 yards with scoring grabs of 13 and 54 yards.
Durham completed 15 of 25 attempts with 255 yards and a career-high five scoring passes to one interception. He also ran for 60 yards on six rushes. Sparks had three catches for 37 yards and his 13-yard touchdown, while Fralon Warren added three of his own for 35 yards and a 20-yard score. Hakeem Ellington and Epps finished with two receptions for 57 and 26 yards, while Corintheus Edmonds added a 13-yard touchdown with his only catch. Kentrelle Williams capped the home scoring with a 64-yard burst up the middle as part of his 69 yards on seven totes.
The Wildcat offense eclipsed the 500-yard total offense mark for the first time in seven games this year. FVSU rushed for 264 yards and passed for another 252 for a balanced 516 yards of offense on only 54 plays for a 9.6-yard average. FVSU accomplished this while it had the ball almost 10 minutes less on the day, 25:48 to 34:12.
The FVSU defense allowed 422 yards of offense, but it gave up only 291 yards and 14 points over the first 50 minutes of the day with four tackles for loss, an interception and three forced fumbles.
For the first time this season, FVSU had four double-digit tacklers led by linebacker Dialo Mosley’s 11. Kentrell Lawson, Landon Austin and Adeon Farmer, who had 1.5 tackles for loss, all added 10 stops. Lataj Wright picked off a pass and returned it 38 yards and Solomon Rigginssacked the Morehouse quarterback once.
The Wildcats started fast with touchdowns on their first two possessions and three of the opening four. With the ball first, Wilson pulled in the 13-yard pass from Durham only 5:14 into the game ona 9-play, 75-yard drive. Following a three-and-out by Morehouse, Wilson capped another long 73-yard drive with a two-yard plunge and 14-0 advantage.
Leading 14-7, on the first second-quarter possession, Durham found Warren wide open on a cut to the middle from 20 yards for the third home score at 6:50 to go in the frame.
FVSU will travel to Atlanta next Saturday afternoon, Oct. 22, for its final true road game of the season. The Wildcats face the Panthers of Clark Atlanta in a 2 p.m. kick-off. FVSU completes its 2022 regular season with netural-site games against Savannah State (Oct. 29) in Macon, Ga., and versus Albany State (Nov. 6) in Columbus, Ga.