Raleigh, NC — Fayetteville State had a lot to overcome in a key divisional matchup against Shaw as special teams’ play helped the Broncos prevail 15-12 over the Bears.
After missing two field goals earlier in the game, place-kicker Elton Andrew kicked a 43-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in the game to send the visitor’s side of the stadium into celebratory glee. Andrew missed a 44-yarder before halftime as the Broncos trailed 12-6 and another 44-yard attempt at the 9:20 mark in the third quarter.
“I left six points on the board,” said Andrew. “So I am not too happy about that. Thank God for that last kick. It was definitely adversity. Nobody wants to kick when the ball is wet and waterlogged. The blocking, the great snap, and the great holding are what made the kick. Overall, it was a great effort from the team.”
Fayetteville State (4-1 overall, 3-0 CIAA) looked its best during the light drizzle when defensive back Joshua Williams jumped a route on the third play of the game for an interception. On the next play, Elijah Henry rushed 32 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The Jacob Young extra-point kick failed.
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After that, the rain increased and so did the adversity.
Shaw (3-3, 2-1) drove the ball 42 yards in 10 plays and put three points on the board with a 29-yard field goal from Versteegen. The Bears started their next drive at the Broncos’ 31-yard line after an FSU punt traveled 11 yards before going out of bounds. Andre Brandon closed out the drive with a three-yard rush and a 9-3 lead with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
Fayetteville State may have scored on its first offensive drive, but mayhem followed. After the 11-yard punt on the second drive, FSU lost a fumble on the third, punted on the next, fumbled again, had a turnover on downs after a mis-snap on a punt attempt that gave Shaw the ball on the Broncos 10-yard line. After all of that, including the missed field goal before halftime, Fayetteville State was still optimistic going into the locker room down 12-6.
Versteegen hit a 27-yarder with 2:28 left in the first half.
“In the first half, we had a problem holding on to the football,” said Head Coach Richard Hayes. “It was raining really hard, but they had to play in the same weather that we played in. We were able to survive that and weather the storm. In-the second half, we came out. The rain stopped a little bit. We were able to get our RPO game up a little bit. We were a resilient bunch today and kudos to the defense. Kudos to my kicker for making that last-minute field goal and it was a true team’s win.”
Late in the third quarter, another spell of adversity made things tense in the game. On a 2nd-and-8 play from the FSU 27-yard line, a pass-attempt by Avery McCall appeared to have been intercepted by the Bears’ defense but the play was ruled to have bounced off the ground before the pick. In dismay, an un-sportsman-like penalty was called on the Shaw bench which resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic FSU first-down.
The Broncos began moving down the field with two short rushes by Darnell Walker and one by Donshel Jetton. K’hari Lane connected one of his 24 pass attempts with Zachary Kellum for 14 yards. Walker bulldozed his way on the next play for 21 yards, carrying multiple Bears, down to the Shaw six-yard line. With 12 seconds left in the quarter, Lane connected with Tyeous Sharpe for a touchdown and a 12-12 game.
Lane finished the game with 13-of-24 passes for 99 yards. Walker finished with 12 rushes for 78 yards. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
The Fayetteville State defense continued to hold its ground in the second half forcing Shaw into a turnover on downs in its first possession of the fourth quarter and punt on its second. On Shaw’s third drive, which started on their 21-yard line, Chrishon Springs came up with a sack for a loss of six yards and Cameron Merrell did the same of the following play. After a one-yard rush, the power in the press area and the game clock went out with a little over 5:47 left in the game. The Bears punted on 4th-and-21 to give the Broncos possession on the FSU 27-yard line with 5:36 left in the game.
“It was hectic!” said Coach Hayes when speaking about the long drive with no clock in the stadium. “We knew we still had timeouts and after every play, we kept going to get the time from the referee.”
The Broncos chipped away at the yards, alternating between pass receptions and rushes. FSU called a timeout when it reached Shaw’s 27-yard line. After a rush to the 25 and a 4th-and-6 yard situation, Elton Andrew booted the game-winner with 47 seconds left.
Fayetteville State fumbled the ball five times in the first half only to regain three of them. Two of the fumbles were on punt attempts that resulted in a loss of downs and two were recovery by Shaw.
The Broncos will host Johnson C. Smith (0-5 Overall, 0-3 CIAA) next Saturday for homecoming. The kickoff is at 2 p.m. The Golden Bulls lost 26-12 to Winston-Salem State this weekend in Charlotte.
Courtesy: Fayetteville State Athletics