It didn’t feel like fall on Saturday afternoon, as it was a scorching seventy-nine degrees in the twilight of October, only two days to Halloween. However, we are in the thick of football season as the eighth ranked Spartans took on the defending champion Middle Georgia State Knights this past weekend.
This particular game had major conference and postseason implications as the No. 4 Knights held a one game lead on UNCG in the South Atlantic Conference prior to kickoff. This is the final regular season home game for the Spartans, and it showed in the turn out Saturday. There were kids playing pickup football on the sidelines, parents and supporters chanting and using cowbells, lawn chairs and tents set up, all to the tune of Future and 21 Savage on a fan’s rather large sound system.
On the field, the Spartans came out of the gates strong. After picking off Middle Georgia State’s Nick Eason in the end zone and forcing a turnover on downs on two consecutive possessions, UNCG was the first to get on the board courtesy of a Brandon Travis touchdown pass to Devyn Merklin.
Even after the Knights scored on the ensuing kickoff, the Spartan’s stout defense stuffed Middle Georgia State’s offense in not allowing the two point conversion. UNCG led MGS 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, and it seemed as if an upset of the defending national champions was possible if both teams held their forms from the onset of the game.
When Middle Georgia State changed starting quarterbacks in favor of junior Brandon Thomas, that was when the Knights’ offense seemingly came alive. Thomas ran for two touchdowns before connecting through the air with Anthony Brown for another to lead UNCG 26-7 at the half.
Not to take the challenge of facing the fourth ranked club team in the nation lightly, the Spartans were quick to respond in the second half. Quarterback Brandon Travis opened up the scoring in the third quarter on a designed run, and with the extra point, cut the lead down to 26-14. In the end, it was too much Middle Georgia State, as the 6’5 Anthony Brown was targeted for the Knights next three touchdowns, with the visitors scoring 20 unanswered in the second half to close out the Spartans 46-14.
Despite the tough loss, Head Coach Michael Vadini liked the intensity that the football team brought out to the field.
“The thing that I was happy about is that our guys never quit. Even though the game got difficult, we overcame challenges early, which is awesome.”
In facing the defending national club champions, Vadini stated “It was fun to watch us make plays from the onset, but they made more plays. Eventually that caught up with us, and that led to them scoring more points than we did.”
Vadini also expressed how playing against Middle Georgia State serves as a measuring stick for the young club football team moving forward.
“I would not have wanted it any other way, cause when you think about it, we won two games [won another by forfeit] and lost 3, the most recent to last years national champions [in Middle Georgia State]. I think it’s great, because in this game, in sports and in life, you gotta want to battle.”
Coach V closes out with the development of his team in their first season of club football.
“Win or lose, they’re learning a lot, they’re playing better, they’re improving. It’s really fun to watch them grow.”
The Spartans fall to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the South Atlantic Conference. For their next game, UNCG travels to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, November 5 to face the Cougars of Columbus State University in their final regular season matchup.