football-grass-447South Carolina State knocked North Carolina A&T from the unbeaten ranks Saturday with a 29-24 MEAC victory in the Atlanta Football Classic.

The Bulldogs (3-2, 2-0) used an efficient offense to hand the Aggies (3-1, 1-1) their first loss. Quarterback Richard Cue, voted his team’s MVP, threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns while completing 17 of the 28 passes that he attempted.

“I thought we played hard the entire game. We didn’t do some of the best things at times but there was no lack of effort,’’ South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough said. ”We knew they were good against the run, so we knew we had to throw the ball to have a chance at winning the game.’’

North Carolina A&T held South Carolina State to 86 yards on the ground.

South Carolina State went ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter on Dondre Freeman-Lewis’ two-yard run. The teams then swapped touchdowns and South Carolina State took a 14-10 lead into the third period. Dominique Drake scored on 14-yard run for the Aggies and Cue tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Davis with 48 second left in the second period.

The Aggies recaptured the lead, 17-14, midway through the third period when Ricky Lewis scored on a 13-yard run. South Carolina State used its special teams go ahead for good later in the period. First Darius Drummond tackled North Carolina A&T blocked punter Dominic Frescura’s kick following a high snap and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety. The Bulldogs took the ensuing free kick and drove Nick Belcher booted a 49-yard field goal.

Cue hooked up with Tyler McDaniel on a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that increased South Carolina State’s lead to 26-17 and put the game out of reach. Belcher added a 22-yard field goal for the Bulldogs’ final points.

North Carolina A&T threatened to make a game of it again, driving 76-yards in 10 plays and scoring on quarterback Lewis Kindle’s 25-yard pass to Desmond Lewis. The Aggies got the ball back with 1:32 left in the game. But South Carolina State sacked Kindle, and he threw three incomplete passes to end the threat.

South Carolina State has won four MEAC championships in the last 10 years. The Bulldogs’ win sets up an Oct. 19 showdown with defending MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman for first place in the MEAC.

“South Carolina State has been a force in this league for a long time,’’ North Carolina A&T coach Rod Broadway said. “I have always respected how they do things. In order to win a championship in this league, you’ve got to be able to beat those guys. They’ve won them, they know how to win them and they’ve got a chance to compete for another one this year. But we’re closing the gap. We’re getting to the point where we can play with the top teams in this league. We just have to figure out how to win some of these close ballgames.”

Key Results

Jackson State 42, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 33 – The Tigers overcame an early 13-point deficit and defeated the visiting Golden Lions in a rematch of the 2012 SWAC Championship Game. The loss kept the Golden Lions (0-5, 0-3 SWAC) winless this season after they beat Jackson State in overtime to win the 2012 SWAC championship. Jackson State (4-2, 4-0 SWAC) used a punishing running game to subdue Arkansas-Pine Bluff and remain unbeaten in the conference. The Tigers piled up 366 yards on the ground. Running back Tommy Gooden led Jackson State with 214 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries. Rakeem Sims added 86 yards on 14 carries. The Tigers won despite losing three fumbles. Arkansas-Pine Bluff went ahead 13-0 in the first period when Jeremiah Young scored on a 10-yard run and quarterback Benjamin Anderson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Kensey. Anderson threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns, but that wasn’t enough to overcome Jackson State running game, which enabled the Tigers to control the ball for 9 minutes, 20 seconds and in the fourth quarter after they took the lead. Gooden’s six-yard touchdown run with 2:37 left in the third period gave Jackson State a 35-33 lead, and his 30-yard scoring run with a minute left in the game sealed the victory.

Fayetteville State 35, Chowan 29 (3 OT) – Quarterback Derek Bryant threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Broncos to a home CIAA victory in triple overtime. Fayetteville State (3-2, 2-0 CIAA) had 587 yards total offense and forced five turnovers. In addition to the turnovers, Chowan (2-3, 1-1 CIAA) was guilty of seven penalties for 167 yards. Chowan sent the game into overtime tied 22-all with a two-yard touchdown pass from Dain McFarland to Robert Holland with two seconds remaining in regulation. A pass interference penalty against Fayetteville State set up the touchdown.  Chowan go the ball first in the first overtime. The Hawks’ possession ended with an interception in the end zone. But the Broncos missed a 35-yard field goal when they got the ball and the game went into the second overtime still tied 22-22. Bryant’s nine-yard touchdown pass put the Broncos ahead 29-22 in the second overtime, but Chowan tied the score again when McFarland and Holland teamed up again, this time on a nine-yard touchdown pass. The Broncos came up with another interception in the third overtime, and Bryant tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Moye to end the game.

Lane 28, Stillman 27 – The Dragons withstood a withering offensive assault and spoiled the Tigers homecoming with a one-point SIAC Western Division victory thanks to a blocked extra point attempt in the waning minutes of the game. Stillman (3-2, 2-1 SIAC) pummeled Lane (3-2, 2-1 SIAC) or 582 yards total offense, with 489 coming through the air. But the Tigers shot themselves in the foot with four turnovers, including two fumbles that led to touchdowns. The Dragons never trailed and they led 21-14 at the half. Stillman tied the score at 21on Josh Straughan’s three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Octavian Ford. Straughan completed 31 of 46 passes for 437 yards before leaving the game with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. Lane regained the lead, 28-21, with a seven-play, 67-yard fourth-quarter drive that ended with Jerald Hatchett’s 15-yard touchdown run. Backup quarterback Torrance Moises put Stillman in position to tie the score again and possibly send the game into overtime when he scrambled 33 yards with 1:41 left in the game. However, the Dragons broke through and blocked the kick to preserve the win, which ended a four-game losing streak against Stillman.

Mississippi Valley State 28, Ala. A&M 9 – The Delta Devils use a ball hawking defense to spoil the Bulldogs’ homecoming as they registered their first victory of the season. Mississippi Valley (1-4, 1-2 SWAC) came up with five interceptions while allowing Alabama A&M to complete four pass attempts. The Bulldogs only had 77 yards passing. They ran the ball for 281 yards and outgained the Delta Devils by nearly 200 yards in total offense, 300 to 105, but committed six total turnovers. The Delta Devils got off to an inauspicious start, fumbling a first-quarter punt in the end that gave the Bulldogs their first points. But they roared back for a 21-9 lead at the half. The Delta Devils’ victory was marred by an injury to starting quarterback Patrick Ivy, who was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. Ivy completed four of five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game.

Other Scores

Alabama State 34, Texas Southern 2

Alcorn 57, Warner 0

Ave Maria 48, Concordia-Selma 34

Bethune-Cookman 21, Delaware State 7

Clark Atlanta 21, Morehouse 17

Elizabeth City State 26, Saint Augustine’s 25

Emporia State 52, Lincoln (Mo.) 14

Johnson C. Smith 49, Lincoln (Pa.) 10

Kentucky State 49, Alderson-Broadus 20

Miles 27, Benedict 13

Morgan State 34, Florida A&M 21

Mercyhurst 63, Cheyney 14

Norfolk State 26, Savannah State 24

North Carolina Central 37, Howard 28

Prairie View A&M 31, Grambling State 3

Tennessee State 40, SE Missouri 16

Tuskegee 21, Fort Valley State 13

Urbana 62, West Virginia State 10

Virginia-Lynchburg 37, Edward Waters 20

Virginia State 14, Shaw 10

Virginia Union 32, Livingstone 25

West Texas A&M 72, Central State 0

Winston-Salem State 56, Bowie State 21

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