The South Carolina State football team had no letdown at all following a season-opening home win against a nationally-ranked Wofford team, shutting out Lane College 34-0 on Saturday inside Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
The Bulldogs (2-0) had many young, first and second-year players take the field throughout the game, helping increase the depth heading into this coming Saturday’s game at South Florida and for MEAC play later in the season.
“We got a chance to play most of our guys, and it was a lot of fun to see them play a little bit,” SC State head football coach Buddy Pough said. “It’s one of those kinds of games where the older guys enjoy seeing the younger guys play.”
Unless another game is added on one of the two open dates the last two Saturdays of this month, there will be 4 more weekends before the Bulldogs play at home again (October 12 against Florida A&M).
Redshirt freshman quarterback Corey Fields got his first collegiate start against Lane and made the most of it for the Bulldogs. He completed 10 of his 21 passing attempts for 172 yards, keeping the Dragons defense guessing all afternoon. Redshirt freshman Shaq Davis led the receivers with 3 catches for 67 yards, while redshirt sophomore Will Vereen added 3 catches for 39 yards.
“That was big; you could see the upside of Corey,” Pough said. “With his consistency, he needs to improve. But, you could see what his strengths are when he is out there.”
All indications are that redshirt junior Tyrece Nick will be available to be back behind center against South Florida. Against Lane, he wore a coach’s headset instead of his helmet on the Bulldogs’ sideline.
The run game was solid for SC State, as redshirt juniors Datron James (79 yards on 10 carries) and Labron Morris (68 yards on 17 carries) each scored a touchdown.
Meanwhile, a scaled-back Bulldogs’ defense kept the Dragons scoreless and only allowed them to pick up 52 rushing yards and 129 passing yards.
Special teams for SC State made plays, including a touchdown on a botched punt return by Lane, along with sophomore kicker Dillon Bredesen connecting on 4 extra point attempts and 2 field goals.
“We’d like to improve on some of the explosiveness of this team (on offense),” Pough said. “We had something like a 15-play (scoring) drive, and we seemed to be happy with that.
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“But, what that means is you had 15 little plays strung together. That’s good, but I’d like to have about five small plays and one or two big plays. One of our goals is to score at least 35 points each game. To get right up to the number and not get there is a little disappointing. But, we needed to win a game and this is the first time we’ve been 2-0 in a long time. We’ll have to play a lot better next week, I’ll guarantee you, because South Florida will have blood in their eyes since they’ve started 0-2.”
Against Lane, the Bulldogs posted two scores each in the first and second quarters to take a 24-0 lead at the half. The visitors losing two late fumbles in the opening half helped the home team establish an early points cushion.
The first drive lasted just 4 plays, but covered 80 yards and ended with a 2-yard touchdown carry by Morris. With 7:48 left in the opening period, SC State led 7-0.
The Bulldogs increased the early lead with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, when James ended a 9-play drive that covered 80 yards with a 5-yard carry into the end zone. SC State led 14-0 heading into the second quarter.
Fields went to the air to set up the third score of the day, with a 30-yard pass across the middle of the field to Juwan Moody (East Carolina transfer from Conway). That play, plus a 15-yard sideline penalty during the play on the Dragons, put the Bulldogs at the Lane 11-yard line. Bredesen soon made the score 17-0 with a 27-yard field goal with 9:29 left in the half.
Junior tailback Kingston Davis picked up a rushing first down on the ensuing drive by the visitors, but he also lost the handle on the ball and fumbled it away to Bulldogs’ defensive back Decobie Durant at the SC State’ 37-yard line.
When the Dragons forced a punt on the following drive, the Bulldogs still found a way to score. A Cliff Benjamin’ punt was inadvertently touched by a Lane player on the Dragons’ 3-yard line and covered in the end zone for a touchdown by redshirt senior Johnell Brown (featured on the official game program cover) for a 24-0 lead with 1:55 left in the half. Brown later had a quarterback sack to derail a Dragons’ drive in the fourth quarter, finishing with a game-high 7 tackles, a total that was only equalled by redshirt freshman defensive end Jablonski Green (Timmonsville High School).
In the second half, the large lead allowed SC State to send in third-string quarterback Quincy Hill, a redshirt freshman from Spring Valley High School. Redshirt freshman tailback Jacory Benson (Seneca High School) and redshirt junior tailback Trayvon Thomas (Darlington High School) also garnered playing time and combined for 29 yards on 10 carries.
Bredesen finished a 17-play drive that covered 64 yards with a 23-yard field goal at the 7:47 mark of the third quarter, giving the Bulldogs a 27-0 lead.
Then, in the middle of the fourth quarter, Hill carried in a 12-yard touchdown at the 7:00 mark for a 34-0 lead, the final points of the contest.
Redshirt freshman safety Duane Nichols (Lake View) and redshirt junior nose tackle Rod Perry (Cary High, N.C.) each totaled 5 tackles, with Perry making 3 tackles for a loss.
Tailback Kingston Davis led Lane with 43 yards rushing, while Tarik McKinzie passed 10-of-24 for 90 yards, including 5 receptions by Anthony Evelyn for 63 yards.
Kevion Gilmore led Lane with 13 tackles, while Brayce McKinzie had 12 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for a loss, and DeMichael McQueen added 11 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss.