Deondre Daniels’ falling on a blocked punt in the end zone with 2:18 left should have secured a South Carolina State victory over Florida A&M on Saturday.
The roaring Oliver C. Dawson Stadium crowd was still on its feet one minute later, when the Rattlers’ Ryan Stanley hit Kamari Young at the goal line for a 19-yard touchdown that delivered an exhausting 42-38 defeat.
“I was proud of the fact that the team did fight back into the game,” Bulldogs head coach Buddy Pough said. “I’ve got no qualms with the fact that they gave their all. We just weren’t quite good enough.”
Stanley led the Rattlers offense with 427 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-for-49 effort with two interceptions. Xavier Smith had eight catches for 137 and two TDs, and David Manigo had 11 catches for 136 yards.
While the teams combined to pass for 689 yards, rushing yards were hard to come by. Florida A&M (5-1, 3-0) had just 78 yards on the ground to South Carolina State (3-2,1-1), which had 86.
Quarterback Tyrece Nick’s rushes were runs on run-pass option plays that didn’t net many yards, something Pough was not happy with.
“That really hurt us,” he said. “We had a rough day at the quarterback read game. I got to the point at the end of the third quarter, I said let’s try the other guy.”
The other guy was Corey Fields, a redshirt freshman who had pushed the gunslinging Nick in spring and fall practices.
Nick, a redshirt junior, was 6-for-17 for 107 yards and an interception before making way for Fields. Fields came under center after Jalen Barr picked off a Stanley pass in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
Three plays and 67 yards later, Fields found De’Montrez Burroughs for a 13-yard touchdown pass that cut Florida A&M’s lead to 28-24.
The Rattlers scored on an 18-yard Bishop Bonnett TD run with 4:53 to play to make it 35-24. On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Fields was 5-for-5 for 85 yards, closing out the drive with a 17-yard TD pass to Shaq Davis.
Daniel’s punt-block-for-touchdown came two minutes later, and the crowd was poised to celebrate a comeback victory after seeing the Bulldogs fall behind 28-14 early in the third quarter.
Two minutes was more than enough time for Florida A&M to work.
“It was not a good day for us standings wise within the league,” Pough said. “We’ve just got to play better. We didn’t play good out there today.”
Pough still needs one win to surpass Willie Jeffries’ record of 128 school victories.
Benedict falls to Miles, remains winless
At Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, Eric Phoenix threw for two touchdowns and Jayden McCloud rushed for a third, but defending SIAC champion Miles College scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 24-21 victory over the Tigers.
The Tigers (0-5, 0-2 SIAC) had three interceptions, but the Bears (4-1, 2-0) got its go-ahead score with 19 seconds left, a PaDarius Martin run from 2 yards out that closed a 9-play, 60-yard drive.
Benedict is at Albany State University Saturday.
The Citadel 35, Western Carolina 17
At Charleston, Brandon Rainey threw just three passes—all of them in the end zone, as The Citadel collected its first Southern Conference victory in a 35-17 victory over Western Carolina.
Rainey, who also rushed for 90 yards and two TDs, threw two strikes to Remis Bulmer and a third to Raleigh Webb.
The Citadel (3-4, 1-2) is at Furman Saturday.
Monmouth 45, Presbyterian 0
At West Long Branch, N.J., Kenji Bahar was 16-for23 in passing for 233 yards and three scores in the Monmouth’s 45-0 over winless Presbyterian.
Presbyterian (0-6, 0-2 Big South) plays host to Kennesaw State Saturday.
Kennesaw State 45, Charleston Southern 23
At Kennesaw, Ga., Jack Chambers passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns, but Charleston Southern fell to Kennesaw State 45-23 in the Big South Opener for both teams.
Charleston Southern (1-4, 0-0) is at North Alabama Saturday
Newberry 30, UVA-Wise 7
At Newberry, the Wolves closed out a 3-game homestand with a 30-7 romp over UVA-Wise.
Colton Bailey was 18-for-26 in passing for 198 yards and a touchdown.
Newberry (2-4, 2-2 SAC) is at Catawba Saturday.
Georgia State 31, Coastal Carolina 21
At Conway, Georgia State’s Dan Ellington rushed for 128 yards and passed for 122 and a touchdown as the Panthers eased past Coastal Carolina 31-21.
The Chanticleers (3-3, 0-2 Sunbelt) are at Georgia Southern Saturday.
Edward Waters College 45, Allen 14
At Jacksonville, Fla., Edward Waters College rolled past Allen 45-14.
St. Thomas is at Allen (1-2) Saturday.
Wingate 34, Limestone 3
At Wingate, N.C., a 21-point third quarter enabled Wingate to rout Limestone 34-3.
Shaw Crocker threw for 167 yards and a touchdown, and Domineke McNeill had 96 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Nijere Peoples had two scores to lift the Bulldogs.
Limestone (2-4, 1-2 SAC) is at Mars Hill Saturday.
West Georgia 42, North Greenville 21
At Tigerville, West Georgia went up 28-7 on North Greenville by halftime and closed out a 42-21 victory over the Crusaders.
North Greenville (2-4, 1-3 GSC) is at Shorter University Saturday.