Florida Tech upends Battlers

PHILIPPI – Quarterback Bobby Vega passed for four touchdowns as Florida Tech defeated Alderson Broaddus, 32-20, in the inaugural ECAC Futures Bowl hosted Saturday at AB Stadium.

Florida Tech turned the ball on its first two possessions, but the Battlers (4-7) were unable to convert Panther miscues into early touchdowns. ABU did not start a drive in its own end of the field until the final minutes of the first quarter.

ABU came away with three points off the early Tech turnovers and a botched punt attempt. Kicker Jordan Butler connected on a 30-yard field goal attempt after missing a 29-yard try on the previous blue and gold drive for the Battlers’ first points of the game. He finished the game 2-for-4 on field goal opportunities.

Vega completed a 20-yard touchdown strike to the game’s eventual offensive MVP Xavier Milton with 1:17 on the clock to take a 7-3 lead into the second quarter.

Milton proved to be a menace for the ABU defense en route to his award-winning performance. He caught 14 balls for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the Panther win.

The Battlers scored their first touchdown of the game trailing 10-3 midway through the second quarter. Freshman quarterback Dakota Bruggeman made his first collegiate start Saturday and marched ABU down the field following a Vega fumble to help the blue and gold retake the lead. He capped a five-play, 24-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown scamper. Bruggeman rushed for 73 yards and passed for 195 yards in the loss.

Seth Lewis punched in the Battlers’ two-point conversion attempt following the Bruggeman TD run to put ABU on top 11-10.

Milton hauled in his second touchdown of the afternoon with 3:25 left in the half, but ABU answered with a quick score of its own. Bruggeman completed four passes of 10 or more yards on the Battlers’ next drive, including a 25-yard pass to Paris Person to put ABU on top 17-16 at halftime.

The Battlers looked as if it they the momentum coming out of the locker room, but a fumble on the half’s opening kickoff deflated the rowdy blue and gold fans in attendance.

Florida Tech outscored ABU 16-0 in the final 24:04 of the game. Vega ended the game 27-for-40 for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Aaron George caught Vega’s last two touchdown passes to secure Tech’s first road victory in the 2013 season.

Milton and linebacker Nathan McDowell earned Offensive and Defensive Player of the Game honors respectively. McDowell led the Panthers (5-7) with eight tackles and tied for the team lead with two sacks and two tackles for loss.

Bruggeman completed 21-of-41 passes in the game and compiled 195 passing yards.