Bulldogs defense against N.C. A&T

South Carolina State junior defensive end Bruce Johnson (98) reaches for North Carolina A&T redshirt junior tailback Amos Williams (23) during Saturday's game in Orangeburg.

LARRY HARDY, T&D

The South Carolina State football team likes to get back on the field soon after a loss, with an opportunity to challenge for a win in the next game on the schedule.

Well, this week, the Bulldogs (1-3 overall record, 0-2 in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play) will not have a long wait to suit up again after Saturday's 21-7 home loss to top-ranked North Carolina A&T.

S.C. State will have the quickest turnaround in program history, playing at home on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against visiting MEAC foe Morgan State University. And, although it looks like losses to both N.C. Central and N.C. A&T put the Bulldogs out of the conference championship race, there are 6 MEAC games left on the schedule.

The Bears will come to town with an 0-4 record, including an 0-1 record in MEAC play.

"We need to win a football game right now," S.C. State head coach Buddy Pough said at his weekly press conference on Monday. "We would have had to have played a lot better on offense (on Saturday) to have had a chance.

"We aren't quite there; we're not grown up enough to be what those teams are, so that's the story. But, I'm excited about the fact that we get to play again as soon as possible."

The Bulldogs aren't the only team to have struggled against N.C. A&T this season. The Aggies' win on Saturday was their third consecutive road win, and third consecutive win in the series with S.C. State.

"After standing on the sideline and watching A&T for an entire game, I've got to say that Coach (Rod) Broadway and his coaches have assembled maybe one of the better groups of offensive talent that I've seen in this league in a while," Pough said. "And they are good all over, with high-level skill on both sides of the ball."

Pough said that the next order of business is "get back to chopping wood" in preparation for another conference game that fortunately is at home. There is some concern that Bulldog fans aren't accustomed to games on Friday night. But, being in attendance at what could be a win to get the team rolling in the right direction in the program's first Friday home game in history should grow in popularity as the week goes on.

"We practiced this morning at 6:20 a.m. and had a pretty enthusiastic-style of practice," Pough said. "We've got good people around this program.

"I don't think you have to do anything extraordinary to create any special enthusiasm. These guys will continue to work and we will. It is a bit frustrating. But, at the same time, because we've got some youth and because we are kind of young, you do see the excitement about going out and working and trying to get better."

The three losses (at Southern, at N.C. Central and against N.C. A&T) have come by a combined total of 25 points, as the Bulldogs have seen their experienced defense keep them competitive in games, while the offense works to improve its continuity.

"It's painfully honest that we were in all of these games," Pough said. "We weren't - in any shape, form or fashion - outclassed in any way.

"I think you can even see our offense having some success and they are even moving the football. We're just not consistent enough offensively."

The defense and special teams have played well in all four games this season, as the Bulldogs have blocked a kick or a punt in each contest.

"Our punt block team is pretty special," Pough said. "We've got to build on those positives.

"We've got to figure a way to make those things turn into more of a benefit for us. But, at the same time, it is frustrating to get these opportunities and you don't seem able to capitalize on them."

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