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Gwinnett grads help VSU's run to national championship

Valdosta State offensive guard and Central Gwinnett grad Edmund Kugbila (70) reacts near the end of an NCAA Div II national championship college football game against Winston Salem State at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Valdosta State beat Winston-Salem State 35-7. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Valdosta State offensive guard and Central Gwinnett grad Edmund Kugbila (70) reacts near the end of an NCAA Div II national championship college football game against Winston Salem State at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Valdosta State beat Winston-Salem State 35-7. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

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Winston Salem State receiver Jamal Williams is taken down by Valdosta State defenders Jeremy Grable (35), Matt Pierce (left) and Central Gwinnett grad Lance Holder, rear, in the first half of an NCAA Div II national championship college football game at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Lance Holder and the Valdosta State defense made a big impression in last Saturday's NCAA Division II National Championship Game in Florence, Ala.

The Blazers forced six Winston-Salem State turnovers in a 35-7 victory and Holder, a Central Gwinnett grad, was responsible for two of those as VSU won its third national championship to cap a 12-2 season.

Holder, the starting free safety, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble for the two turnovers, and also had four tackles and two pass breakups. For the season, he had 60 tackles and four interceptions.

Fellow VSU defensive backs — Collins Hill's Chris Caspari (four tackles, three solos), Central's Cameron Olds and South Gwinnett's Jazzin Anderson — also contributed for the national champions. The defense also included Central product Trokon Gaye, a junior defensive end who had 22 tackles this season.

Offensively, Gwinnett's impact at VSU is up front.

North Gwinnett's Jake Thomas was the Blazers' starting center and he lines up alongside big starting right guard Edmund Kugbila, a 6-foot-5, 347-pound Central grad. Mill Creek's Austin Thompson also is a freshman reserve at offensive tackle.