The final score of the Palmetto Capital City Classic might not have been loaded with touchdowns, but Benedict will gladly take Saturday’s result.
A second-quarter safety was the difference in a 5-3 victory over Livingstone at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
But it was the first Capital City Classic win for Benedict since 2009, and the first win for the school since a 33-15 win over Morehouse College Oct. 25, 2014.
“It was a great battle out there,” Benedict coach Mike White said. “I’m just glad at the way our guys stayed focused on the sidelines and talked about finishing the game.
The Tigers’ offense was held in check by the Blue Bears, with 19 rushing yards and 169 passing yards.
The Benedict defense returned the favor. Livingstone had just eight rushing yards on 28 attempts, and 111 yards passing — along with four sacks and three interceptions.
Considering Livingstone beat Benedict 49-6 in the Capital City Classic last year, Saturday night’s victory was as much of a statement as could be made.
“When we came out, everybody said we were gonna get beat,” said junior Kendrick Frazier, who had four tackles, a sack and two interceptions to earn the MVP award. “We came out at our press conference and everybody said we were gonna get beat 80-0, but the scoreboard said 5-3. We came out and played.”
The first half was a story of defenses not giving an inch — along with some penalties. Both teams settled for a combined nine punts, had 17 penalties for 140 yards, and minus-8 rushing yards.
The Blue Bears finally got on the scoreboard with 19-yard field goal with 2:45 left in the first quarter
Then the Tigers’ defense gave itself a break in the closing minutes of the half.
Frazier picked off a Juwan McCall pass and ran it back 24 yards to the Livingstone 6. Benedict couldn’t punch the ball in, but got a 26-yard field goal from Tory Mimbs to even the score at 3-3 with 2:51 left.
Andrew Feraimo ran the ensuing kickoff, but he was downed at the 3-yard line. Two plays later, the Tigers cornered running back Jarius Richardson in the end zone for a safety.
On the next possession, the Tigers attempted a 48-yard field goal, but two penalties pushed them out of field-goal range. Benedict quarterback Mason Duckett completed a hail mary pass to Devontae Alfred as time expired, but the wide receiver couldn’t make it across the goal line and was downed at the 1.
Mimbs missed left on field goal attempts from 42 and 43 yards in the second half. Harmon Brown electrified the crowd with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but it was called back for a block-in-the-back penalty.
The way the Benedict defense played, none of the early season mistakes mattered.
“I liked the way they played out there. They played really well,” White said. “I liked it when they came to the sidelines, they settled down and talked about the next series. That’s what it takes to play defense.”