Florence, AL – Cayden Cochran ran in two scores and also had one through the air as Valdosta State took a 35-7 win over Winston-Salem State in the Division II football championship game.
Cochran passed for 109 yards on 18-of-26 attempts and added 14 yards on eight carries for the Blazers (12-2), who won their third championship and first since 2007. Cedric O'Neal added 140 yards on 24 carries with a score in the win.
Kameron Smith passed for 269 yards and a score, but was picked off two times and completed just 16 of his 37 attempts for the Rams (14-1), who were playing in the championship for the first time in school history.
Valdosta State took the lead right off the bat, as Landen Thayer returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a score and a 7-0 lead 12 seconds into the contest.
Winston-Salem got into Valdosta State territory on the ensuing possession, thanks to a 36-yard catch from Jameze Massey, but a 4th-and-9 at the 37 failed and the Blazers got the ball back.
On the eighth play of the drive, O'Neal took the ball into the end zone from 24 yards out for a 14-0 lead with 10:16 to play in the first.
Each of the Rams' next two touches resulted in turnovers, but the Blazers were unable to take advantage.
After Winston-Salem again failed on a fourth down try, this time a 4th-and-6 at the Valdosta State 33, the Blazers added to their advantage.
On the 13th play of the 72-yard drive, Cochran punched the ball into the end zone from a yard out for a 21-0 lead with 5:40 left in the half.
Their second possession of the third quarter saw the Rams finally get on the board. On the eighth play from the Valdosta State 29, Smith and Massey got together on a 29-yard score to make it a 21-7 game with 9:25 to play in the third.
The Blazers, though, put the game away a bit later with a long drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. The 17-play, 80-yard march took up 7 1/2 minutes of the clock with Cochran hitting Quin Roberson for a 17-yard score and a 28-7 lead just under two minutes into the final frame.
Cochran's second score of the game on the ground from a yard out came with 3 1/2 minutes to play to put the emphasis on the rout.