An unfamiliar face started at quarterback for South Carolina State Saturday for its first-ever road spring football game.
Redshirt sophomore Quincy Hill out of Spring Valley High School got the starting nod at Alabama State.
With the Bulldogs needing a score late, a familiar face returned at quarterback to lead the team to victory.
Corey Fields completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Davis with 1:17 left to lift S.C. State to a 14-7 win over the Hornets.
It was the only score of the second half for S.C. State (2-1), which was outgained 288-222 by the Hornets. The final scoring drive of seven plays and 59 yards marked only the fourth time the Bulldogs passed midfield in the contest.
The first was on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. Running back Alex James had two 12-yard carries on the drive, the latter putting him in the end zone with 11:45 left in the first quarter.
South Carolina State's offense stalled for the remainder of the first half. After picking up five first downs and 65 total yards on the opening drive, it managed only two first downs and 52 total yards the rest of the first half.
However, the defense limited the Hornets to 135 yards in the first half and forced a fumble recovered by Chad Gilchrist. B.J. Davis had a team-high nine tackles for the Bulldogs.
Alabama State also failed to capitalize on two scoring opportunities in the second quarter. A 48-yard punt return by Joshua Knight set up a first-and-goal at the S.C. State 10.
The Hornets settled for a field goal attempt, which Cosmin Diacono missed wide right with 7:28 left in the half.
He had another opportunity from 36 yards with 14 seconds left, but once again missed wide right.
Alabama State (2-2) had another promising drive to open the second half. The Hornets drove the football to the S.C. State 8 but were stopped on fourth down.
S.C. State's Fields entered the game for Hill in the second half and had his initial struggles. With 1:24 left in the third quarter, he threw a pass that deflected off the receiver's foot and was intercepted by Eric Felts at the 49-yard line.
The momentum for Alabama State was short-lived as senior defensive back Zafir Kelly intercepted backup quarterback Chris Scott two plays later with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Irmo High graduate came up with another interception with 9:39 left. This time, he picked off starter Ryan Nettles in the end zone as he attempted a scoring pass from the 38-yard line.
Kelly finished with six tackles.
With 5:25 left in the game, the Bulldogs looked to run out the clock from their own 15. Instead, Fields was picked off by Sean Harper at the S.C. State 19.
This time, Alabama State capitalized as Nettles found Wallace Corker from 9 yards on fourth down with 3:05 left. Hunter Hanson added the PAT to tie the game at 7-7.
Fields answered the call on the Bulldogs' next possession. Facing a third-and-10 at the S.C. State 41, he found Shaquan Davis for 15 yards to the Alabama State 44.
After a 3-yard run, Fields found Davis again for 13 yards to the Alabama State 28. An 11-yard run by James, who finished with 62 rushing yards, set up the game-winning pass from Fields to Davis.
Despite starting from their 20-yard line, the Hornets did not go away quietly. Facing a fourth down, Nettles completed three consecutive passes to bring Alabama State to the S.C. State 22.
A false-start penalty pushed the Hornets back five yards and left only 11 seconds on the clock. His final play was a 3-yard run out of bounds to end the game.
The victory improved S.C. State to 5-3 all-time against Alabama State. Head coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough also improved his record to 10-1 all-time against Hornets' head coach Donald Hill-Eley dating back to his days at Morgan State.
South Carolina State (2-1) closes out its spring schedule with a road trip to Delaware State on April 17.
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.