Covering South Carolina State from 1996 to 2014 gave me the rare opportunity to cover head coaching legends in succession.
I witnessed the transfer from Willie Jeffries to Buddy Pough in 2002. During those 12 seasons covering Pough, I was privileged to see many historic moments and milestones achieved under his leadership.
Oct. 19 marked the latest in a bevy of milestones reached under Pough’s leadership of S.C. State football:
Aug. 30, 2002 - South Carolina State 26, Tennessee State 20
The Pough era opens in comeback fashion. Down 20-7, the Bulldogs rally to score 19 unanswered points at home.
Oct. 5, 2002 - S.C. State 31, Florida A&M 13
The Bulldogs get their first signature win under Pough and as they dominate the then-10th-ranked Rattlers. The win snaps a seven-game losing streak to FAMU and begins a run of dominance in which S.C. State wins 14 straight meetings.
Oct. 26, 2002 - S.C. State 47, Hampton 41 (2OT)
The Bulldogs pick up their first-ever win over the Pirates in dramatic fashion as Trevon Smith’s 14-yard run closes out a comeback from 14 points down.
Nov. 23, 2003 - S.C. State 49, North Carolina A&T 9
The Bulldogs turn the “Battle at the Border” in Charlotte, N.C., into their own senior showcase. Scoring four touchdowns on defense and special teams, S.C. State humbles the 13th-ranked Aggies and begins a decade-long downturn for the Greensboro program.
Oct. 17, 2004 - S.C. State 28, Bethune-Cookman 14
Thanks to two key interceptions by Orangeburg-Wilkinson grad and Clemson transfer Ryan Hemby, the Bulldogs snap a six-game losing streak against Pough’s biggest nemesis during his tenure.
Nov. 22, 2004 - S.C. State 34, North Carolina A&T 28
The Bulldogs claim a share of their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title since 1994 and see DeShawn Baker become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Chad Eaddy in 2000.
Sept. 3, 2005 - S.C. State 27, Alabama State 14
The Bulldogs pick up their first win in the inaugural MEAC-SWAC Challenge at Legion Field in Birmingham, Fla.
Sept. 1, 2007 - Air Force 34, S.C. State 3
The contest marks the first ever against a Division I program for the Bulldogs, a significant moment under Pough despite the outcome.
Nov. 11, 2007 - S.C. State 28, Morgan State 17
The centennial season is highlighted by Terrance Smith’s 1-handed game-winning touchdown catch. It becomes known as the Centennial Catch.
Nov. 18, 2007 - S.C. State 51, N.C. A&T 7
It is a historic day at the Lowcountry Classic. Quarterback Cleveland McCoy sets the school record for most career touchdowns, but the day belongs to running back Will Ford, who breaks Kenny Bynum’s single-game record for rushing with 322 yards.
Oct. 26, 2008 - S.C. State 35, Hampton 13
The “true” breakthrough victory for the Bulldogs. Led by Travil Jamison’s five second-half touchdowns, S.C. State completes its first season sweep of the Pirates and Bethune-Cookman and jump into the driver’s seat of the MEAC title race.
Nov. 2, 2008 - S.C. State 23, Delaware State 17
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The Bulldogs end two years of frustration against the Hornets and move a step closer to an outright conference title.
Nov. 16, 2008 - S.C. State 32, Morgan State 0
The Bulldogs wrap up the outright MEAC title in the city of Baltimore, where they eventually went 40 years without a loss.
Nov. 23, 2008 - S.C. State 56, North Carolina A&T 0
The Bulldogs complete the regular season with three straight shutouts for the first time since 1971. It also marks the longest winning streak under Pough at eight games and fifth season with double-digit wins in school history.
Nov. 30, 2008 - Appalachian State 37, S.C. State 21
The Bulldogs give the eventual Football Championship Subdivision champions a tougher-than-expected battle in the opening round of the playoffs. It is the first of two straight postseason meetings between the two schools.
Sept. 2, 2009 - S.C. State 34, Grambling 31
Denmark-Olar graduate Semaj Moody preserves the Bulldogs’ second straight win in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge on a sweltering day in Orlando, Fla. Six days later, S.C. State returns to the Sunshine State to defeat Bethune-Cookman.
Nov. 14, 2009 - S.C. State 37, Morgan State 13
On a day quarterback Malcolm Long becomes the first Bulldog to throw for over 2,000 yards in a season, the Bulldogs clinch a second straight conference title and win a conference-record 18th straight game.
Nov. 21, 2009 - S.C. State 28, N.C. A&T 10
The Bulldogs wrap up a second straight 10-win season and Ford becomes the MEAC’s all-time career leading rusher.
Oct. 9, 2010 - S.C. State 34, Norfolk State 13
The Bulldogs win their 20th consecutive conference game, a streak that ends a week later vs. Bethune-Cookman.
Nov. 20, 2010 - S.C. State 48, North Carolina A&T 3
The Bulldogs win their third straight MEAC title and fourt under Pough and advance to the FCS playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Sept. 17, 2011 - Indiana 38, S.C. State 21
The Bulldogs post their most-ever points against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
Sept. 22, 2012 - Texas A&M 70, S.C. State 14
The contest is more memorable for marking the only time the Bulldogs have faced an eventual Heisman Trophy winner. Quarterback Johnny Manziel breaks onto the national stage as he throws for three touchdowns and rushes for two in the first half.
Nov. 23, 2013 - S.C. State 17, North Carolina A&T 3
The Bulldogs earn a share of the MEAC title but are denied the automatic playoff qualifier based on the head-to-head tiebreaker with Bethune-Cookman. They still earn a first-ever home playoff game, but lose a week later to Furman 30-20.
Sept. 20, 2014 - S.C. State 17, Furman 7
An inspired defensive effort gives the Bulldogs their first win over a ranked non-HBCU school under Pough. It is the first of two wins that season over top-25 teams.
Sept. 27, 2014 - S.C. State 17, Hampton 10
The Bulldogs pull off a rare comeback victory from a halftime deficit to earn Pough his 100th career win at his alma mater.
Oct. 25, 2014 - S.C. State 20, Bethune-Cookman 14
The Javon Hargrave game as he ties an FCS and NCAA record for all classifications with six sacks to go with a forced fumble that results in a touchdown. The contest is decided by a 49-yard touchdown reception and run by Austin Smith in which he breaks away from three to four Wildcat tackles with 33 seconds left. The Bulldogs end up in a five-way tie for the MEAC title.
Oct. 19, 2019 - S.C. State 24, Morgan State 10
Pough surpasses Willie Jeffries for the most wins at S.C. State.
Thomas Grant Jr. reported on The T&D Region sports scene for two decades as a Times and Democrat staffer. In 2014, he became sports editor of The Lexington County Chronicle and The Dispatch-News in Lexington.
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