Every game at this point is treated as a playoff game, so Fort Valley State’s trip to Atlanta against formidable Clark-Atlanta should be taken seriously.
Clark-Atlanta had beaten Fort Valley State in last season’s opening game, but the Wildcats sent an early message that there will be no need for overtime this season as an efficient Nicholas Stephens at quarterback and a more productive Tony Reid were instrumental in a 40-16 win over the Panthers.
Wildcats’ head coach Donald Pittman has always used a two-quarterback system and that philosophy was in full affect as Nicholas Stephens received the starting nod at quarterback against the Panthers.
Eugene Smith who started against Benedict on October 2nd, completed 20 of 31 passes for 211 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but Benedict defenders sacked the more mobile, athletic Smith four times.
Pittman had showed concern about the efficiency of the offense by Smith, and with each game having an increased importance; it appears the head coach decided that a change was necessary despite last week’s win against Benedict.
In the local Macon newspaper, Coach Pittman had said the following about Smith’s performance against Benedict.
“He doesn’t know the offense that well yet,” head coach Donald Pittman said. “Once he gets comfortable with it, he’ll do much better in getting rid of the ball. He’s holding it too long.”
For FVSU, it hasn’t really mattered who is behind center, because the team has been putting up points on the scoreboard all season long.
The Wildcats have scored 40 or more points in four consecutive games and the margin of victory has been more than 30 points.
Nicholas Stephens was an efficient 13 for 19 for 132 yards and three touchdowns along with no interceptions.
Fort Valley was able to move the chains with Stephens and running back Tony Reid provided support with a 122 yard effort that garnered two rushing touchdowns on just 12 carries. The versatile Reid also collected four passes for 63 yards and two additional scores via the reception.
The Wildcats win over the Panthers raises FVSU ‘s record to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the SIAC. The Panthers drop to 3-3 and 3-2.
The Wildcats’s special teams and defense have played a vital role this year in regard to giving FVSU scoring opportunities.
A Clark-Atlanta fumble in the first quarter led to a 41-yard field goal by FVSU’s Justin Rosenbaum. In the second quarter, prior to halftime Clark-Atlanta fumbled a punt at their own 31 yard line and an opportunistic Stephens was able to convert on the Panthers’ miscues with a pass to Reid for a touchdown just before halftime.
Next week , FVSU will host Tuskegee in a must-win game to stay relevant in the SIAC postseason picture. Tuskegee is coming in with momentum after defeating Morehouse on October 9th.