It isn't the way the 2013 season was supposed to go for the Valdosta State Blazers.
The 2012 national champs were supposed to compete for back-to-back titles, but a swarm of injuries and bad breaks will keep the Blazers out of the Division II playoffs this season.
A win Thursday night could make a disappointing season easier to swallow for VSU.
The Blazers will honor their 16 seniors before their game with 19th ranked UNC Pembroke, and head coach David Dean says winning this matchup would mean a lot for his team.
"This is a bowl game for our seniors. Its kind of a Titletown Bowl for us," Dean says. "We want to defend this city. The last time we played at home we lost, and we want to send our seniors off on a winning note from Bazemore-Hyder Stadium."
Dean says this is special group of seniors.
The class of 2014 helped Valdosta keep it's city moniker of Titletown, claiming the Gulf South title in 2010 and the national title in 2012.
"A lot of football games have been won by those guys," Dean says. "There's only 16 of them, but 12 of those 16 have played here for four or five years. One of them's been here for six years. So it's guys that have been in the program for a long time and guys we're surely going to miss."
The Blazers kick off against UNC Pembroke Thursday night at 7:30. The game will be aired nationally on CSS.
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