Originally created 12/12/04

Valdosta State blazes to title

FLORENCE, Ala. - Valdosta State rallied to win its first NCAA Division II championship Saturday, with Fabian Walker throwing two touchdown passes and running for another score in the Blazers' 36-31 victory over Pittsburg State.

Valdosta State (13-1) forced four turnovers and held Pittsburg State (14-1) to 371 yards of total offense - 243 yards below the Gorillas' average. The Blazers intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles.

Valdosta State's Terrence Bell intercepted two passes, including a momentum-changer late in the first quarter after the Gorillas had taken a 14-0 lead.

Walker threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Zach Parker early in the second quarter to start the comeback, and Valdosta State took the lead for the first time early in the second half when Pittsburg State punter Andy Majors dropped a snap in the end zone and was stopped for a safety, giving the Blazers a 19-17 lead.

Walker, who played in the 2003 Sugar Bowl for Florida State, then led two consecutive scoring drives.

Walker completed 19 of 27 passes for 165 yards and ran for 55 yards on 11 carries.

Leading 36-31 late in the fourth quarter, Valdosta State converted on a fourth-down play with a fake punt to keep the ball and hold onto the lead.

Pittsburg State got on the board in the opening minute when linebacker Jimmy Taylor scored on a 32-yard interception return. It was the first interception return for a touchdown in the Division II title game since 1979.

Valdosta State's Will Rhody kicked two field goals, including a 27-yarder with 3 seconds to play in the first half to tie the game.


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