Football Central: Crusaders welcome Florida Tech in season finale

Football Central: Crusaders welcome Florida Tech in season finale
Friday, November 8, 2019
Football Central: Crusaders welcome Florida Tech in season finale

Tigerville – North Greenville will wrap up the 2019 season on Saturday afternoon when Florida Tech comes to town for a 1:30 PM kickoff in Younts stadium.

Last Time Out: Crusaders drop nail-biter to West Florida

Another close call for the Crusaders last weekend as they were edged by a top-25 team for the second time in as many weeks. This time the West Florida Argos put together a pair of second-half scoring drives to send NGU home with another near miss, just a week after falling to #1 Valdosta State by less than a touchdown.

The Crusaders put up the first points of the game when Aaron Watson returned an interception for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. NGU’s defense forced another turnover while a special team’s fumble recovery on punt team gave NGU two more opportunities for points. A pair of missed field goals and West Florida triple from 30-yards out made it 7-3 at halftime.

The Argos put together a pair of scoring drives in the second half to make it 17-7 as the game headed to the fourth quarter. North Greenville had one last gasp. The Crusaders hit on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Baker to Catalfomo to cut it to 17-10. NGU provided more fireworks after recovering an onside kick but came up empty in the final drive as the Argos escaped the upset.

Full Recap: North Greenville vs. West Florida

Last Time Out: Florida Tech edged by West Alabama

The Panthers were victims of a heartbreaking loss of their own last Saturday as a last-second field goal from West Alabama sent them home with their sixth loss of the 2019 season. The game with the Tigers was a low scoring affair that featured a little more than 700-yards of total offense, three interceptions, and a fumble.

The outlook was fair for the Panthers in the early goings with 10-points in the first quarter. They were held scoreless the remainder of the game. West Alabama added a field goal in the second before both squads suffered through a scoreless third quarter. A 12-yard touchdown pass from Qua Boyd to Jack McDaniels evened it at 10-points early in the fourth quarter before the Tigers added the dagger, knocking through a field goal as time expired to earn the victory.

Full Recap: Florida Tech vs. West Alabama

Reunion Time in Tigerville

Saturday’s game marks another celebration for NGU athletics with the recognition of the program’s 25th season as a four-year organization. To celebrate the milestone, the NGU Alumni Association and Athletic Department will welcome back athletes spanning the previous 24-years representing the original seven varsity sports that expanded to four-year programs.

It’s a Hall-of-Fame kind of Night

Along with the reunion, NGU will welcome the Hall-of-Fame class of 2019. This year’s inductees include athletes from men’s basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball, and football. Also included in the ceremony are a pair of Hall-of-Legends inductees, an honor reserved for NGU’s most gracious donors and supporters.

The Class of ’19 names include Zawaski Bateman (Men’s Basketball), Rachel Glazebrook (Softball), Herbie Goodman (Baseball), Shawanda George Miller, Freddie Martino (Football), and Angie and Sam Kelly. The Hall-of-Fame dinner will be held Friday night with official inductions taking place at halftime of Saturday’s football game.

CLICK HERE to read more about this year’s inductees.

The Series: North Greenville vs. Florida Tech

North Greenville beat the Panthers in the first-ever meeting, a 2016 playoff battle in Melbourne, Florida. The Crusaders strutted back to Tigerville with a 27-13 victory over the Panthers, quickly ending their first-ever trip to the postseason as a program. Tech rebounded and now lead the series 2-1 after winning the next two meetings, including a 42-31 win in Younts Stadium in 2017.

Last season was especially difficult for the Crusaders in their return trip to Melbourne. Five turnovers, including four in the first quarter, spelled trouble for North Greenville after falling behind 20-0 after just one-quarter of play. North Greenville’s only score of the game came on a one-yard touchdown run from EJ Humphrey while the Panthers added 17-more points to earn the 37-7 victory.

Scouting the Panthers

The 3-6 Panthers have taken a small step back from recent years but still pose a credible threat, as do all Gulf South Conference opponents. Offensively, the Panthers are putting up 24.44 points a contest while the defense is allowing just under five more to opponents which are scoring at 29.22 clip. Of the 28-touchdowns this season by the Florida Tech offense, 15 have come via the rush while another 13 have come through the air.

The touchdowns are a product of an offense that is averaging 400-yards per game including 152-yards rushing and 248.44 yards passing. The Panther’s quarterbacks have been susceptible to turnovers, tossing eight interceptions so far on the season. Even more worrisome for the Panthers is a total of 20-fumbles on the season with 12 resulting in turnovers.

Defensively the Panthers are equaling their offense, allowing 15-touchdowns passing and another 18 scores via opponent rushing games. North Greenville’s quarterbacks have been protective this season limiting turnovers and will have to continue that trend on Saturday with an opportunistic group from Florida Tech which has 10 picks on the season, ranking them second in the league in that category.

Florida Tech Players to Watch

Mike Dihiello | Mike Dihiello is the guy that seems to make the FIT offense tick. So far this season he is ranked 17th in D-II with 11 touchdowns rushing and is 35th in the country in total touchdowns. He also ranks nationally in yards per completion (13.45) and points responsible for (114). The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for eight touchdowns on 1,372-yards.

Damien McGhee | McGhee isn’t the leading receiver for FIT, that title belongs to Miles Kelly who leads the team in number of receptions and yards, but McGhee leads where it counts which is on the scoreboard. The wide-out is 35th in the nation in 2019 in touchdown catches with seven in nine games. The next closest is Kelly with two.

Tyrone Cromwell | Cromwell’s name seems to get thrown around quite a bit in GSC circles and for good reason. The defensive back leads the team and is ninth in Division II with two blocked kicks and ranks fifth in the statistical rankings in passes defended per game with 1.9.

Evan Thompson | Another name for FIT that carries a lot of weight is Evan Thompson who seems to have a nose for the football. The junior linebacker is 12th in D-II with 48-solo tackles and has a total of 75 for the season. He also has a team-high 8.5 stops for a loss with 2.5-sacks.

Game information

Location: North Greenville University (Tigerville, South Carolina)
Stadium: Younts Stadium
Kickoff: 1:30 PM Eastern Time
How to Follow: The Crusaders and Panthers will kick off at 1:30 PM in Younts Stadium. Coverage will begin shortly before. Links for the video stream as well as live statistics are provided below. North Greenville will honor its seniors prior to Saturday's kickoff. 

CLICK HERE for Live Video | CLICK HERE for Live Statistics | CLICK HERE for Scoreboard