DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bethune-Cookman found a way to win at the wire once again, edging South Carolina State by a score of 17-14 on Thursday night in a crucial Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before a Municipal Stadium “Blackout” crowd of 7,465 and a national ESPNU audience.
Quentin Williams’ three-yard run with 5:14 remaining lifted the Wildcats (5-1 overall, 3-0 MEAC) to their fourth victory of the season decided by four points or less, and third in which they trailed in the fourth quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a tough ball game and come down to the wire,” said B-CU Head Coach Terry Sims. “We had to be the smarter football team tonight. That was our final part of the game plan, and limit our mistakes and penalties.”
South Carolina State (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) had the final possession and advanced from its own 7 to its own 42. But pass breakups by Trenton Bridges and Elliott Miller – the freshman who blocked a last-second chip shot field goal in last week’s 28-26 win at North Carolina Central – helped the Wildcats regain possession and run out the clock.
The Bulldogs took a 14-10 lead on Antonio Hamilton’s 82-yard punt return with 10:43 left.
“Unlike last year in Orangeburg, it was not a mistake on the special teams players running down field,” expressed Sims. “The kick went the wrong way. The guys were following the direction it was supposed to go, and the ball just went the other way on the kick.”
But Williams, who finished 10 of 23 for 133 yards and rushed for another 47, led the Wildcats on an eight-play, 51-yard drive to regain the lead.
With former Wildcats greats and NFL stars Nick Collins and Ryan Davis looking on from the sideline, the first half belonged to the defense, as Bethune-Cookman settled for a 3-0 lead on Uriel Hernandez’s 32-yard field goal in the opening period.
South Carolina State matriculated the ball 97 yards in 12 plays to register the first offensive touchdown against the Wildcats at home this season, a 4-yard Caleb York to Taquan West pass with 5:44 left in the third.
Williams responded with a 10-play, 73-yard drive that saw the Wildcats regain the lead just moments later. His 39-yard run, along with strong rushing from Anthony Jordan and Michael D. Jones, set up a 2-yard Williams to Ja-Quan Lumas score that made it 10-7 in favor of the Cats with 1:05 left in the stanza.
Jordan rushed for 121 yards for the Wildcats, while Jones added 35.
York threw for 175 yards, and it was Jalen Simmons who rushed for 91 yards for South Carolina State, who had two touchdowns called back due to penalties in their third loss in four games.
“We made too many mistakes,” said South Carolina State Head Coach Buddy Pough. “When you have the type of mistakes we made and too many penalties, it’s hard to win. It’s hard to believe we were still in the game.”
Bethune-Cookman travels to North Carolina A&T next Saturday, while South Carolina State hosts Howard.
“It’s a big win and we’ll enjoy it tonight,” Sims said. “But tomorrow morning we have to get ready for North Carolina A&T.”
Courtesy: B-CU Athletics