Dover, Del. — Wisdom Nzidee kicked the go-ahead field goal with 10 minutes left and the defense highlighted a solid effort with two fourth quarter interceptions to lead Delaware State to a 17-14 victory over South Carolina State in a MEAC contest at Alumni Stadium today.
The victory snapped a 17-game skid for the Hornets (1-6; 1-4 MEAC), who won for the first time since defeating Howard 32-31 in the 2015 season finale. DSU also ended a 12-game slide in MEAC contests.
The Hornets used two first quarter touchdowns to open up a 14-0 lead. South Carolina State scored a second-quarter touchdown and another early in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
After the Bulldogs tied the score, DSU’s Jordan Hannah returned the kickoff to the SC State 40 yard line. The Hornets benefitted from a South Carolina State personal foul on a third down sack to keep the drive alive. Quarterback Keenan Black took advantage of the break by completing an 18-yard pass to Nyfease West and a 17-yarder to Jordan Hannah to move the ball to the Bulldog 10.
The Hornets could not advance any further and had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Nzidee to open up a 17-14 lead with 10:11 left to play. Nzidee is 7-for-7 on field goal attempts this season to lead all FCS kickers with a 1.000 conversion percentage.
South Carolina State had three possessions after DSU regained the lead. The first ended when Hornet defensive back Devin Smith intercepted a pass from SC State quarterback Dewann Ford at the DSU 47.
Delaware State’s defense forced a three-and-out on the next Bulldog possession.
SC State started its last drive on its 20-yard line with 3:03 left to play. After a sack by Hornet linebacker Brian Cavicante and a four-yard loss on a pass play, DSU’s Devin Adams ended the Bulldogs’ hopes with an interception and return to the SC State 19 with a minute to go.
“This was a total team win,” said Delaware State head coach Kenny Carter. “The offense got us off to a great start with the two early touchdowns and the defense played out its mind for much of the game. The players and staff have been working so hard all season. It’s great to have that effort rewarded with a victory. We will savor this win, but it’s important that we get back to work to try and build on what we achieved today.”
Delaware State started quickly, scoring a touchdown on its opening possession for the second time this season. One play after completing a 29-yard pass to Trey Gross on third-and-22, Black connected with Taronn Selby for a 36-yard touchdown to get the Hornets on the board.
The touchdown was the first of Selby’s career.
DSU stretched its lead with an 80-yard scoring drive late in the opening quarter. Black capped off the three-minute-16 second drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Fatu Sua-Godinet. The pair connected on a 35-yard pass to the SC State 9 earlier in the drive. Nzidee’s extra point kick gave the Hornets a 14-0 lead with 55 seconds left in the first quarter. “We have a really great group of receivers,” said Black, who completed 14-of-27 passes for a career-high 218 yards and two touchdowns in his first start. “Our passing game has improved so much this season. The offensive line gave me time to throw and the receivers made some big time plays.”
Gross had four catches for 66 yards, giving him nine receptions for 220 yards in the last two games.
Sua-Godinet hauled in four passes for 65 yards. He has a touchdown catch in each of the last two games and four for his career.
Jahad Niebauer and Alexander Lozano led the Hornets with eight tackles each, while Keyjuan Selby had six tackles and two pass breakups in the contest. Defensive back Xavier Wilcher had his second career interception in the game for the Hornets.
Delaware State begins a two-game road swing at North Carolina Central next Saturday (Oct. 28). Game time is 1 p.m. in Durham, N.C. The Hornets will also visit Savannah State on Nov. 4 before playing their 2017 home finale against Morgan State on Nov. 11.
South Carolina lost for the fourth time in the last five games to fall to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in the MEAC.
Courtesy: DSU Athletics