COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Benedict College Tigers held Fort Valley State to just 10 yards rushing and added their third interception return for a touchdown this year, as the Tigers defeated the Wildcats 28-14 on Saturday night in Charlie W. Johnson Stadium to improve to 3-1, their best start since 2003.
George Myers Jr. rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown, as the Tigers rushed for 168 total yards. Benedict completed only four passes on the evening, but two went for touchdowns to Okechi Ntiasagwe.
“It was a good win for us. We needed to win this game. It’s a divisional game. I guess Fort Valley’s had our number for a little while, so it was good to play four quarters and pull a tough game out,” Benedict head coach Mike White said. [easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”y” identifier=”B00JRM6Y8E” locale=”US” tag=”hbcusports-20″]
Benedict beat Fort Valley for the first time since 2009, and just the third time since Benedict resumed football in 1995. Benedict improves to 3-1 overall, and 2-0 in the SIAC and stands on top of the SIAC East Division with a 1-0 division record. Fort Valley State drops to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the SIAC.
Fort Valley State quarterback Domontay Jones threw for 257 yards and had a 71-yard touchdown strike to Orenzo Smith, but was intercepted four times and was sacked seven times by the swarming Benedict defense. Linebacker Stephen Williams had two interceptions, while Edward Kirkland also had two interceptions, returning one back 47 yards for a touchdown. Last week, Kirkland returned an interception back 100 yards against Central State. Through four games, Benedict has recorded nine interceptions and returned three back for touchdowns.
“They kind of talk about those things and it was great to see and a huge boost momentum-wise,” White said. “I look to see more of that because that’s all they talk about.”
The Tigers drove 84 yards on 10 plays, getting a 19-yard pass from Phillip Brown to Ntiasagwe for the game’s first score with 5:48 left in the first quarter. He finished the day with three receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
“We need to get our passing game going. We have some good receivers,” White said. “We’ve just got to get the protection and make a good throw and I think they’ll make the plays. I think that will be important for us as we go with a freshman quarterback to get him going.”
The Wildcats tied the game on a one-yard run by Chauncey Jackson on the second play of the second quarter. That drive was kept alive by a 26-yard pass from Jones to Modari Johnson.
Benedict recovered the ball when the Wildcats fumbled the punt on their next series. The Tigers recovered and drove 53 yards on 11 plays, with Myers running around the right edge for a 6-yard touchdown.
Kirkland picked off Jones on the next series, but Benedict couldn’t move the ball and was forced to bring in Tory Mimbs for a punt. However, a roughing the kicker penalty against the Wildcats gave Benedict new life at the 25-yard line. On the first play after the penalty, Brown threw a 25-yard pass to Ntiasagwe streaking down the left sideline for a score, giving Benedict a 21-7 lead at the half.
Kirkland’s 47-yard interception return in the third quarter gave Benedict a 28-7 lead with 1:48 left in the quarter.
The Wildcats picked off a Brown pass with 9:08 left in the game, and on the next play, Jones heaved a deep pass to Orenzo Smith, who caught the 71-yard pass for a touchdown to cut the lead to 28-14.
“That was the negative part of the night,” White said. “I thought we played so good, but we never want to give up those big plays and I think we gave up three, maybe four, tonight. That was disappointing, but I’m glad for the win.”
Benedict had to punt the ball back to the Wildcats, and Fort Valley got as close as the Benedict 7-yard line, but an offensive pass interference penalty and a pair of sacks pushed the Wildcats back and Benedict was able to take over with 1:18 left and run out the clock for the victory.
White said the Tigers are gaining confidence each week. Benedict takes to the road for the next three weeks, starting with a trip to Boiling Springs, N.C. to face Division I opponent Gardner-Webb University. That is followed by trips to Lane in Jackson, Tenn., and Clark Atlanta University before returning to Columbia to face Morehouse on Oct. 22 for Homecoming.
“I think with this staff, we stay pretty grounded. But we are a team that struggled so much last year that we gain a little confidence each week that we play well.”
Courtesy: Benedict Athletics