ORANGEBURG - With a second consecutive MEAC championship in hand, South Carolina State was strictly concerned with style points in Saturday's final regular season game against North Carolina A&T at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
The idea was to make a final, favorable impression on the FCS seeding committee in the quest to land a first-round home game in the national playoffs for the first time since 1981.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 7 in all three major FCS polls, downed the improved Aggies 28-10 to close the regular season with a 10-1 record - matching the school record for wins in a season.
It was also S.C. State's 19th consecutive conference win - a MEAC record - and ties a school mark for consecutive conference games without a loss.
S.C. State now will sweat it out until the pairings are announced at 3 p.m. today.
"Getting a home game is what it's all about now," Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough said.
"I'm like everybody else because I'm thinking about what is going to happen tomorrow. There is nothing else we can do. It's wait and see."
Perhaps the Bulldogs were thinking ahead a little too much to the seeding announcement. The visiting Aggies hung tough in the first half, playing the champs to a 7-7 draw.
N.C. A&T (5-6, 3-5) struck first in the wake of an interception and a 48-yard return to the Bulldogs 37 by Justin Ferrell. The Aggies needed seven running plays from there to open the scoring. Tony Coles covered the final two yards.
S.C. State countered with a 12-yard scoring pass from Malcolm Long to Tre' Young at 9:03 of the second quarter after an interception by lineman Jayson Ayers at the Aggies 31.
"I felt we had to do something good early (in the second half), or we might just lose and ruin our season," Pough said.
The Bulldogs got the message. Long connected with Young on a 49-yard scoring pass on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. S.C. State never looked back.
The Bulldogs piled up 458 offensive yards - 236 on the ground, 222 by air.
Will Ford, who had just 39 net yards at halftime, finished with 156 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries to become the all-time MEAC rushing leader.
"Getting the record today crossed my mind, but when I saw that A&T wasn't going to lay down for us that kind of went away," Ford said.
Ford now has 4,649 yards on the books, one more than former Hampton star Alonzo Coleman.
Long was 18-for-31 passing for 222 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 41 yards and one score. Young had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. It was the senior's second consecutive 100-yard receiving game, his fourth of the season.