After letting a close game slip away in their Gulf South Conference opener, the Shorter Hawks will get a break from league play this week.
Shorter will head to Middle Georgia on Saturday to take on fellow Division II school Fort Valley State in the two teams’ first-ever meeting. It’s the Hawks second non-conference game this season after losing to D-I East Tennessee State two weeks ago.
“I think Fort Valley has some good things going,” Shorter head coach Zach Morrison said. “They have a big, physical offensive line. They’re larger than ETSU, but maybe not as quick. They bring size there, and defensively they have some guys who fly around well and make some plays. It will be a good little trip to see if we can pull one out on the road.”
Morrison and the Hawks thought they might have pulled one out at home last weekend when they went into halftime tied with West Florida, 14-14. But a re-energized Argonauts offense came out in the second half and defeated Shorter 42-14.
“The first half of the game on Saturday was some of the most fun I have had while coaching here. Guys were playing their hearts out,” Morrison said. “Going in at half tied 14-14 showed that we can play with teams in our conference. Every week will be a new challenge, but if we can get 11 guys on offense, defense, and special teams playing as hard as they can for 60 minutes we can be a tough team.”
Fort Valley, which plays in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, is winless so far this season as well. They lost 38-17 to Division II Miles College and then lost to D-I FCS Florida A&M last week, 57-20. Florida A&M took advantage of three Fort Valley State turnovers and scored three times in a matter of seven minutes in the second quarter.
Shorter’s Tupac Lanier took off for one of the longest touchdown runs in school history when he went 65 yards nearly untouched through West Florida’s defense late in the first quarter last Saturday. Trevor Smith ran the ball well when he was called upon as well.
“We got some good production from the receivers. I’m proud of Andrew Warren, Christian Da-Silva and Elijah Gilbert making plays,” Morrison said . “There are a lot of positives to pull from the game, but we still need to execute better.”
Defensively, Morrison noted the units intensity, energy and enthusiasm throughout the first half, which included a forced fumble by Terrance Snellings and a recovery by Drew Tossie to halt a West Florida drive.
“We love adding those turnovers! We had an opportunity for a couple more throughout the game as well,” Morrison stated.
Lanier, a sophomore from Statesboro, was named the team’s offensive player of the game after finishing with 80 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Senior lineman Terrance Snellings earned defensive player of the week honors for his constant pressure on West Florida’s backfield. Special teams player of the week is freshman Gregory Fields Jr., who led the Hawks in all-purpose yards.
Scout team players of the week for the Hawks are Kameren Barnes (offense), Tristin Escoe (defense), and Stone Darough (special teams).