ORANGEBURG - Will Ford picked the perfect stage to make history on Saturday before 24,449 fans at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
The senior running back from Travelers Rest ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns to help the 12th-ranked Bulldogs score a 35-20 win over No. 22 Florida A&M in a key MEAC game.
It was the Bulldogs' 14th consecutive conference win - a school record - and their seventh victory in a row against Florida A&M.
In the process, Ford became S.C. State's all-time leading rusher. His 7-yard run on the first play of the second half allowed him to surpass previous leader Michael Hicks.
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Ford, who has 4,164 rushing yards, also moved into second place on the MEAC rushing chart. He needs 480 yards to surpass Hampton's Alonzo Hampton.
"Getting a win is always the first priority, but luckily I was able to get the record too," Ford said.
"It was a great day all the way around. We knew this was a game we had to win, and playing in front of a crowd like that made it even more special."
S.C. State coach Buddy Pough was quick to praise his running back.
"He's done special things since the minute he got here," said Pough, whose team improved to 5-1 overall, 3-0 in the conference. "He's a guy who is certainly worthy of all the praise and accolades."
The Bulldogs took command in the first half, building a 35-13 lead, and went on cruise control offensively in the second half.
S.C. State was four for four the in the red zone in the first half, scoring a touchdown on each of its trips. The Bulldogs closed the half with a backbreaking, 47-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Donovan Richard.
"I don't know if we can play any better than we did in the first half," Pough said "A lot of guys make a lot of plays. To put a game plan together and have it work out pretty much like you designed it is an enjoyable thing."
The key early was the play of S.C. State's defense, which forced the Rattlers to settle for field goals on their first two possessions.
"We marched up and down the field but didn't get the job done in the red zone," Rattlers coach Joe Taylor said. "Basically, the difference was their defensive line came off the ball and kind of beat up on our offensive line."
Ford wasn't the only headliner for the Bulldogs. Quarterback Malcolm Long was 14-for-19 passing for 164 yards and one touchdown. Tre Young caught six passes for 77 yards and one score.
On defense, lineman Jayson Ayers had three tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Richard had two interceptions.
The special teams contained Florida A&M's LeRoy Vann, who entered as the leading punt returner in the FCS at 23.94 yards per attempt.. Vann managed 5 yards on three punt returns, and 73 yards on five kickoffs.