College Sports

Bulldogs win with full house

ORANGEBURG | Tre Young was happy - but puzzled - when he heard his name announced Saturday at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium in the late moments of South Carolina State's 52-10 demolition of Delaware State.

Young, a senior receiver, had just broken the school record for career reception yards previously held by Charlie Brown (1977-80). With four catches for 135 yards, including a game-changing, 80-yard touchdown toss from Malcolm Long, Young has 1,734 yards.

Just one problem: Young professed not to know anything about Brown, the former Washington Redskins great who - oh, callow youth! - was in attendance for S.C. State's homecoming.

"I heard that over the (public-address system), and I was shocked. I never broke any records in high school even," he said.

So what about his famed predecessor? "I'm gonna have to Google him," Young said, shaking his head.

Never mind that a recount later revealed Young had broken Brown's record the week before, one day before his 24th birthday. These days, S.C. State, ranked 10th in the FCS, is so prolific in all areas that it's easy to lose count.

At 7-1, the Bulldogs are off to their best start since 1997, a 9-3 Heritage Bowl season. By crushing Delaware State, they ran their MEAC win streak to 16, longest in school history.

Toss in Long's first 300-yard passing game for S.C. State, plus Delaware State coach Al Lavan's assessment that "this is as good and as fast a team as I've seen Buddy have," and S.C. State is piling up numbers that are hard to ignore.

But the numbers that ultimately might mean the most weren't on the field. Saturday's crowd of 21,2587 - second this fall to the overflow crowd of 24,446 that witnessed S.C. State's 35-20 whipping of Florida A&M on Oct. 17 - pushed the season home attendance to 61,656, an average of 20,552.

That's a 53.5 percent increase over 2008 (13,383). The Bulldogs were ranked fourth nationally in FCS attendance before Saturday.

But it's not as if all those boosters stumbled accidentally through the gates. Historically, the Bulldogs' following has not lived up to its teams' success. So this summer, Pough and S.C. State's administration decided to do something about that.

Pough said he had grown tired over the years of leaving the stadium after games and "seeing 25,000 in the parking lots, maybe 7,000 inside," he said. "There are folks who use this place as a party (location).

"We handle the security, and we need to make some money. We can't give it away."

Hence the school's "Gamezone" initiative. Fans no longer can park outside Dawson Stadium, grill and drink and party - and then go home without setting foot inside the stadium or, worse, even buying a ticket.

This season, fans have to pass through five entrances into the stadium area (the "Gamezone"), and each must have a game ticket. If not, security personnel will be happy to sell them one.

With prices of $25-$30 ($35 for the homecoming game) plus $5 for parking, S.C. State gets an influx of cash, and tailgaters have an "incentive" to come inside and cheer for their team.

"We tossed around ideas for a number of years, but we never had the courage to put it in play," said athletics director Charlene said.

At first, S.C. State's plan had its critics. "I took the idea to Charlene," Pough said, laughing, "so now that it's taken off, I've got to own up to it."

That's easier because, for the most part, response has been positive, Johnson said. "Some folks didn't understand it at first," she said, "but we sent out brochures to 20,000 alumni and e-mails after the first game.

"I think we've done a good job. People are buying into it."

There are benefits other than the monetary boost. As the Bulldogs continue to win, the possibility of hosting a first-round NCAA playoff game grows.

"If we're fortunate enough to make the playoffs, I think (increased attendance) makes us a lot more attractive," Pough said. "(NCAA officials) use a formula: rankings, then facilities, then (attendance) numbers."

Dawson Stadium's capacity of 22,800 gives S.C. State an edge over most FCS teams - if the seats are filled. Barring an upset in their final three games, the Bulldogs should take care of the wins.

Players feed off a full house, and fans Saturday fed off the players' performance. It seems there is no downside in sight.

Well, nothing that a few history lessons for Young and Co. won't cure.

Delaware State 7 0 3 0-10

S. C. State 24 7 14 7-52

First Quarter

SCSt-Young 24 pass from Long (Erickson kick), 9:25.

SCSt-Ford 13 run (Erickson kick), 6:53.

SCSt-Long 2 run (Erickson kick), 2:14.

DeSt-Moore 90 kickoff return (Flickinger kick), 2:02.

SCSt-FG Erickson 37, :00.

Second Quarter

SCSt-Young 80 pass from Long (Erickson kick), 8:24.

Third Quarter

SCSt-Jamison 2 run (Erickson kick), 11:56.

DeSt-FG Flickinger 23, 6:01.

SCSt-Ford 14 run (Erickson kick), 1:36.

Fourth Quarter

SCSt-Adams 36 interception return (Erickson kick), :12.

A-0.

DS SCST

Firs tdowns 13 29

Rushes-yards 33-87 41-190

Passing 138 316

Comp-Att-Int 14-26-2 16-24-0

Return yards 0 93

Punts-avg. 4-45.0 1-47.0

Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0

Penalties-yards 7-69 2-10

Time of Ppssession 29:58 30:02

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-Delaware St., Rosseau 10-50, J.Jones 15-50, Elko 2-1, Glaud 6-(minus 14). S. Carolina St., Ford 17-87, Jamison 6-42, Wiley 7-40, Long 6-21, Team 5-0.

PASSING-Delaware St., Glaud 8-15-1-68, Elko 6-11-1-70. S. Carolina St., Long 16-24-0-316.

RECEIVING-Delaware St., Moore 4-30, Jackson 3-43, E.Jones 3-37, Langdon 2-14, Team 2-14. S. Carolina St., T.Smith 5-91, Young 4-135, Team 3-24, Christie 2-50, Clark 2-16.

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