South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough said Saturday's 42-35 victory Bethune-Cookman was a great lesson in momentum.
With his team leading 42-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs tried a backward pass that was dropped. BCU's Omari Hill-Robinson picked the ball up and raced 88 yards for a touchdown.
After recovering an onside kick, the Wildcats put another touchdown on the board, cutting SCSU's lead to 42-28 with just over seven minutes left in the game at Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium.
"We let them back in the game," Pough said. "We gave them a couple of scores, and the next thing you know, we have a full-fledged battle on our hands. I'm proud of the fact that we won the football game, and happy to get the win, but not happy with the way we handled business."
The Bulldogs defeat Bethune-Cookman 42-35 at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium in Orangeburg on Oct. 2, 2021.
Bethune-Cookman (0-5) scored the final 28 points of the game, including a touchdown with 45 seconds left. The Wildcats were unable to recover a final onside kick and S.C. State (1-3) ran out the clock.
Despite the fourth quarter meltdown, S.C. State dominated the first three periods led by quarterback Corey Fields and a trio of backs.
Fields finished the game 20-of-30 passing for 314 yards and a touchdown. Donte Anthony led the Bulldogs with 67 yards rushing and two scores. Kendrell Flowers added 64 yards and two touchdowns, and Jacory Benson had 46 yards and a score.
"This win is a momentum swing for us," Fields said. "Football is a game of momentum, and it can change at any point. I was proud our receivers today; they are a great group."
Shaquan Davis was back in the lineup for the first time since the opener against Alabama A&M. He caught five passes for 117 yards to lead the Bulldogs, while Will Vereen had five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
"We had some issues this summer, but it's all about timing," Fields said. "The throws are getting there, and we're developing that chemistry. We'll take the positives from this win and turn our focus to next week."
Pough said the defense played as well as he has seen the unit, up until the fourth quarter.
"We sprung a leak," Pough said. "When that happened, then it was the exact opposite. We also had a lot of penalties (12 for 130 yards), which is the most we have had in years. You can see that this team can be pretty good, it can also be a bit of a headache. You get those issues, and you have to figure out how to get them fixed before they get worse."
Jablonski Green was another Bulldog making his return to the field Saturday, leading the defense with four solo tackles.
"After two surgeries since 2019, it was a blessing to be back on the field," Jablonski said. "I feel like I'm back to full strength, but the coaches are bringing me back slowly, so I have to make the most of my opportunities."
Green said he and Zione Meadows have been able to bond with the younger linemen who have been playing while they recover.
"Zione (and me) brought back that intensity today," Green said. "We brought back that swagger."
Patrick Godbolt added four solo tackles and an interception in the SCSU win.
Leading 42-14, South Carolina State's second-team offense was driving toward another score when a backward pass led to a scoop and score. After Bethune-Cookman recovered the ensuing onside kick, the Wildcats were plugged back in. The Bulldogs did just enough to run down the clock and finish off the victory.
They said it
"We won the game. That was the first order of business, and I'm not giving it back. I need that win bad. Our players do to, down into their bones." -- SCSU head coach Buddy Pough after defeating Bethune-Cookman 42-35.
PASSING: SCSU - Corey Fields 20-30, 314 yards, one touchdown; Quincy Hill 2-2, 32 yards, BCU - Devin Black 6-16, 127 yards, one touchdown; Patrick Shannon 5-9, 32 yards
RUSHING: SCSU - Donte Anthony 9 carries, 67 yards, two touchdowns; Kendrell Flowers 13 carries, 64 yards, two touchdowns; Jacory Benson 8 carries, 46 yards, one touchdown; Fields 6 carries 31 yards BCU - Black 8 carries, 131 yards, one touchdown; Jimmie Robinson III 4 carries, 35 yards; QueShaun Byrd 11 carries, 29 yards, one touchdown
RECEIVING: SCSU - Shaquan Davis 5 catches, 117 yards; Will Vereen 5 catches, 101 yards, one touchdowns; Flowers 3 catches, 11 yards; Hezekiah Massey 2 catches, 43 yards BCU - Kamari Averett 4 catches, 94 yards, one touchdown; Dave Ellington 4 catches, 41 yards; Dylaan Lee 2 catches, 27 yards
How they scored
SCSU: Kendrell Flowers 4-yard run (Dyson Roberts kick) - 7-0 (11:07)
BCU: Darnell Deas 95-yard kickoff return (Dyla Moghaddam kick) - 7-7 (10:53)
SCSU: Flowers 2-yard run (Roberts kick) - 14-7 (3:59)
SCSU: Corey Fields 38-yard pass to Will Vereen (Roberts kick) - 21-7 (6:18)
SCSU: Donte Anthony 11-yard run (Roberts kick) - 28-7
SCSU: Jacory Benson 2-yard run (Roberts kick) - 35-7 (5:29)
SCSU: Anthony 29-yard run (Gavyn Zimmerman kick) - 42-7 (1:06)
BCU: Devin Black 28-yard pass to Kemari Averett (Dyla Moghaddam kick) - 42-14 (14:41)
BCU: Omari Hill-Robinson 88 yard fumble return (Dyla Moghaddam kick) - 42-21 (9:01)