|August 29, 2009||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
|NEW||TD||12:59||K. Tindal 29 Yd Pass From B. Gantt (B. Blackmon kick)|
|NEW||FG||01:01||B. Blackmon 18 Yd|
|VSU||FG||08:40||Daniel Anderson 35 Yd|
|VSU||TD||04:39||Ronnye Nelson 3 Yd Run (Daniel Anderson kick)|
|VSU||TD||03:08||Cedric Jones 40 Yd Pass From Kellen Lewis (Daniel Anderson kick)|
|NEW||TD||11:45||D. Pressley 25 Yd Pass From B. Gantt (B. Blackmon kick)|
|NEW||TD||09:50||D. Smith 27 Yd Pass From B. Gantt|
|NEW||TD||13:40||SJ Worrell 1 Yd Run|
|VSU||TD||00:32||Cedric Evans 18 Yd Pass From Russ Callaway (Daniel Anderson kick)|
|Stats at a Glance||NEW||VSU|
|3rd Down Conversions||8-17||4-14|
|4th Down Conversions||2-2||2-4|
|Passing (Comp-Att)||333 (25-39)||319 (23-47)|
|Rushing (Att)||137 (41)||92 (28)|
VALDOSTA, Ga. - The Todd Knight era of Newberry College football got off to the best start possible as the unranked scarlet and gray came back from a halftime deficit to take down nationally ranked Valdosta State University, 31-24, in front of 9,217 fans at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium on Saturday.
Newberry (1-0) intercepted five passes - four of which were inside the Newberry 25-yardline - to stave off the VSU (0-1; No. 13 AFCA; No. 8 D2Football.com) attack. The scarlet and gray also put up 470 yards of offense and controlled the clock throughout the game.
Senior quarterback Brandon Gantt (Lexington, S.C.) completed 25-of-39 passes for 333 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. The 333 yards and 25 completions are both the ninth-most in a single game in Newberry history. It was the 14th time a Newberry quarterback has passed for over 300 yards in a game.
David Pressley (Anderson, S.C.) led the receiving corps with 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown, while David Smith (Union, S.C.) was not far behind with six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. Kelton Tindal (Sumter, S.C.) had five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Tindal moves to fifth in the Newberry record books in receiving yards with 1,549 career yards. He is just four yards from Joey Spigner in fourth place. He is also now tied for second in school history in receiving touchdowns with 13.
On the ground, S.J. Worrell (Madison, Ga.) led the team with 19 carries for 77 yards and what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
Defensively, the star of the night was senior safety Ron Parker (St. Helena Island, S.C.). Parker totaled 10 tackles to lead the team and also snuffed out back-to-back VSU drives with interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Also recording interceptions were Brooks Burnette (Bonneau, S.C.), Kamaal McIlwain (Van Wyck, S.C.) and Antonio Patton (Woodruff, S.C.). McIlwain recorded four pass breakups on the night and Patton averaged 20 yards per return on three punt returns.
The game got off to a picture-perfect start for Newberry, as the scarlet and gray took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards in seven plays for the season's first score. Gantt connected with Tindal for a 29-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-8 to give Newberry a 7-0 lead.
Newberry extended the lead to 10-0 in the first quarter on an 18-yard field goal from Britt Blackmon (Kershaw, S.C.) with 1:01 remaining in the quarter. A 25-yard completion from Gantt to senior tight end Justin Greene (Irmo, S.C.) set the field goal up.
Entering the game, one of the biggest stories in Division II football was VSU transfer quarterback Kellen Lewis, who joined the Blazers after setting multiple records at Indiana. His hype was quickly deflated as Patton's interception at the Newberry 22 put an end to the first quarter.
However, Lewis would turn the tables in the second quarter. After leading a drive that ended in a 35-yard field goal from Daniel Anderson, the senior connected on touchdown passes of 52 and 40 yards to give VSU a 17-10 halftime lead.
But the Newberry defense responded with a fire that helped the scarlet and gray score 21 straight points. After forcing the Blazers to go three-and-out on the second half's opening drive, NC went 56 yards in five plays to tie the game on a 25-yard Gantt-to-Pressley touchdown pass.
On the next drive, the Newberry defense injured Lewis, forcing him from the game for the night. Backup quarterback Russ Callaway's first pass of the night was picked off by Burnette at the Valdosta 44, and he returned it to the VSU 30.
It only took two plays for Newberry to take the lead for good, as Gantt's 27-yard touchdown pass to Smith gave Newberry a 23-17 lead after a botched snap on the PAT attempt.
Callaway continued to lead the VSU offense and the Blazers were poised to tie the game before McIlwain made a spectacular catch at the Newberry 4-yardline to record his fourth career interception and end VSU's drive.
After a Newberry punt and a VSU missed field goal, Newberry engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Worrell's 1-yard touchdown plunge. A two-point conversion pass from Gantt to Pressley gave Newberry a 31-17 lead.
Valdosta State moved the ball well in the latter stages of the game, but Parker's heroics kept the Blazers out of the endzone until the final minute of the game. The senior safety intercepted a Ronnye Nelson pass at the Newberry 4-yardline on a fourth down trick play and rescued Newberry on the next VSU drive, coming up with a spectacular leaping pick in the endzone after VSU had intercepted a Gantt pass deep in Newberry territory.
The Blazers moved to within a touchdown with 32 second on the clock on an 18-yard Callaway-to-Cedric Evans touchdown pass, but Pressley fell on the ensuing onside kick to seal the win for Newberry.
Newberry limited Lewis to 9 completions on 19 attempts for 148 yards and a touchdown, while Callaway was 14-of-27 passing for 171 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Nelson threw an interception on his only passing attempt, but scored a rushing touchdown.
The scarlet and gray remain on the road next week in an effort to push its season record to 2-0 against Division I-FCS opponent Austin Peay. Kickoff in Clarksville, Tenn., next Saturday is set for 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time at Governors Stadium.