Savannah State football opened the 2021 season 161 days after playing their last countable game, falling to the No. 6 ranked team in NCAA Division II, Valdosta State, 53-7.
Valdosta capitalized on an 8-play, 64-yard, 4-minute drive with a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. Following a failed extra point attempt, they led 6-0.
Before it became a runaway win for the Blazers, Savannah State was in the fight. The Tigers’ opening drive was strong. They moved the ball 48-yards on 10 plays with redshirt freshman quarterback Jamurian “JT” Hartage running the plays.
The Tigers pushed to the Valdosta 30-yard line, before a forced fumble on second down turned the ball over, ending their chances at a quick reply.
The Blazers responded on the ensuing possession with another touchdown run—ending an 11-play, 73-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Ivory Durham to Lio’undre Gaillimore.
For the first 11 minutes of the second quarter, the Tigers and Blazers traded possessions with no scoring. With 3:48 ticking away to the half, Valdosta led 13-0. It was anyone’s game. But the home team took full advantage of several costly Savannah State turnovers to rack up 17 points in three minutes, going into the locker room with a 30-0 lead.
The third quarter was all Valdosta State as the Blazers tacked on two more touchdowns for a 44-0 lead into the final quarter.
With 7:14 to play, Savannah State put up their only points of the game. Hartage connected with Brent Carr for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Hartage completed five of 10 attempts on the night. He led the passing effort with 40 yards for the Tigers. D’Vonn Gibbons racked up 20 passing yards and led the team in rushing with 34 yards. D’Angelo Durham had 25 rushing yards on 12 carries for the night.
Savannah State opens a three-game homestand on Sept. 11 when they host Livingstone College at Theodore A. Wright Stadium. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.