ALBANY, Ga.- The Albany State University suffered a tough 38-3 season opener loss to No. 1-ranked Valdosta State football team at home on Saturday evening.
The Golden Rams converted one first down, but the Blazers stopped the Golden Rams on second and nine for no gain. The Blazers then stopped the Golden Rams on a third and nine forcing a punt.
The Blazers marched down the field converting on a third and ten and a third and five for the first conversion. Valdosta State then secured seven yards. On third and two on the ten, VSU collected ten yards for a score and a 7-0 lead with 6:27 left in the first quarter.
Kelias Williams tossed a first-half interception with the Blazers taking possession and returning the ball for 11 yards to the ASU 30.
The Blazers converted the fourth third down of the quarter as the quarterback found junior Kenny Benjamin for six yards. VSU then threw the ball for 16 yards to spot the ball on the ASU three-yard line. Next, they scored the second touchdown of the game to take a 14-0 lead.
ASU had its first big play of the game as Williams rushed 30 yards to the VSU 26 on the ensuing drive to end the quarter. VSU answered by stopping ASU on a third and four from the 20 and Gabriel Ballina pushed a 38-yard field goal wide left.
The Blazers then scored another touchdown to take a 21-0 lead, highlighted by a 12-yard pass and a 20-yard run with 6:23 left in the half.
VSU defense used the team momentum as they picked off Williams at the ASU 45 and returned it to the Golden Ram one-yard line and scored for a 28-0 lead with 4:16 left.
The Golden Rams used a 50-yard run from Tracy Scott for the biggest play of the half by ASU, but the Blazers defense held tough and ASU kicked a 39-yard field goal to trail 28-3 at the half.
For the half, ASU had 18 rushes for 133 yards and was just 2 of 6 with two interceptions for 21 yards. While VSU tallied 206 yards on 33 plays with 20 rushes on 93 yards and VSU was 12 of 13 passing for 113 yards.
VSU missed a field goal on its first possession of the second half but forced the Golden Rams into a punt. Valdosta State had a big gain and a first down on the next offensive possession. ASU stopped the Blazers after a couple of penalties by the Blazers for the first punt of the game by VSU and boomed the punt to the ASU 15.
The Golden Rams moved down the field for their best drive of the game and moved to the VSU nine for a third and five as the fourth quarter began. Williams’ pass was incomplete for a fourth down and the Golden Rams turned the ball over on downs deep in VSU territory.
On a big third down, VSU threw a great pass on a blitz by the Golden Rams for a 27-yard gain setting the Blazers up in plus territory. Next, VSU added another touchdown to the board to take a 35-3 lead with 8:16 left in the game and to take the season opener victory.
For the game, ASU tallied 240 yards of offense on 174 yards rushing and 66 through the air. The Golden Rams were five of 15 passing with two interceptions and had 12 first downs in the game.
Williams was five of 14 for 66 yards and two interceptions. Rashad Jones had two catches for 45 yards to lead the team. Kelias Williams had a team-high 81 yards on the ground followed by Tracy Scott who had for five carries for 59 yards.
Defensively, ASU was led by Tyler Scott with nine tackles, while Jackson had seven tackles. ASU tallied five tackles for loss for 15 yards and collected one sack in the game.
This game marked the first time since Oct. 10, 2013, with VSU as the No. 1-ranked team in the country. The Blazers improved to 20-6 all-time as the top-ranked team. VSU improved to 19-2 all-time against the Golden Rams.
The Golden Reams return to action as they travel to Clinton, Mississippi for a non-conference match-up against Mississippi College on September 14that 7 p.m.
Courtesy: Albany State Athletics