It was a quarter and a half on Saturday that the Shorter Hawks pressed Fort Valley State and held a lead over the Middle Georgia team.
But the host Wildcats took advantage of one big mistake and scored three touchdowns in the final nine minutes of the first half, leading them to defeat Shorter 30-23 in the non-conference game.
Quarterback Tyler Pullum threw for 243 yards and a touchdown, and ran in another for the Hawks, who amassed 356 yards of offense and led 13-3 early in the second quarter.
Fort Valley (1-2) closed the gap with 8:19 to go in the second on a 29-yard pass from Slade Jarman to QA Walker, but the point after was blocked by Shorter’s Caleb Winton to make it 13-3.
A Mike Hicks Jr. 56-yard interception return to set up a one-play 3-yard TD run by Jarman that put Fort Valley up 16-13 with 2:17 to go.
Jarman connected with Shemar Bridges for a 53-yard pass on the Wildcats’ next drive and then hit Jaylen Lowder for an 11-yard touchdown pass that gave the home team a 23-13 lead going into halftime.
Both teams added a third-quarter touchdown, before Fort Valley ran out the final three minutes after a 21-yard field goal by Shorter’s Nicholas Pope made it a one-score game, 30-23.
Shorter (0-3) scored on its first possession as Trevor Smith capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Pope’s extra point was good to put the Hawks up 7-0.
Fort Valley got on the board with 55 second left in the first quarter when Eli Mashburn made a 33-yard field goal.
John Dietl III caught a 13-yard pass from Pullum in the second quarter to put Shorter a yard out from the goal line.
Elijah Gilbert was the target for Pullum’s next pass to score a touchdown, but Pope’s extra point was no good.
Christian Da-Silva, Andrew Warren and Wilbert Boyd IV each had over 50 yards receiving for the Hawks, while Tupac Lanier led the ground game with 68 yards on 16 carries. Ethan Manns had seven total tackles, including one for a loss.
Shorter will be back at Barron Stadium on Saturday for it’s only night home game of the season as the Hawks host No. 1-ranked Valdosta State. Kickoff is 6 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to wear black and all veterans, active military and first responders will be admitted to the game for free.