Wildcats look for revenge against Bulldogs
(STATS) – Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims remembered his team’s last game against South Carolina State, he just wasn’t eager to talk about it during Tuesday’s MEAC weekly teleconference.
"Really? You wanna talk about that, huh?," asked Sims with a laugh.
Sims isn’t particularly fond of the memory of an odd, 20-14 road loss last October. His team tied the game on a fumble recovery in the end zone with 50 seconds left, only to watch Adrian Kollock Jr. and Austin Smith hook up for a game-winning 49-yard touchdown reception 17 seconds later.
Sims hopes his team will get the last laugh, though, as Bethune-Cookman has a shot at redemption Thursday night while both teams try to stay perfect in conference play.
A victory would help wash away the memory of last year’s matchup, which was just one of two Bethune-Cookman losses that kept them from an outright MEAC title – instead sharing it with four teams, South Carolina State included.
"There are some things that happened in that game that I’m still trying to forget," Sims said. "That’s just part of it, and you have to take the good with the bad in this sport and keep pushing on."
The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0) are trying to press through three consecutive games against fellow co-conference champions from last year – concluding against North Carolina A&T next week.
A frantic finish last Saturday was just the start of the stretch as Bethune-Cookman rallied for a 28-26 victory over North Carolina Central. The Wildcats scored 21 unanswered points in the final 16 minutes and then blocked a field goal with 32 seconds left to win their third game by four points or less already this season.
They hope they won’t have to hold their breath five days later.
"We have another really, really good football team coming in here," said Sims. "We’re just going to have to be on our ‘A’ game in order to come out with a win in this thing."
Quentin Williams threw two touchdown passes to Jawill Davis to lead the rally before freshman Elliot Miller blocked North Carolina Central’s final field goal attempt. Williams started the season with a 2-for-7, 8-yard game against Miami, but he has a 188.2 quarterback rating since. He finished 13 of 18 for 248 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against North Carolina Central. He took three sacks but ran for 72 yards on 13 attempts.
"They’ve done a nice job of mixing up their offense that makes them hard to defend," South Carolina State coach Oliver Pough said. "Quentin Williams, their quarterback, is playing at a very, very high level."
The flooding in South Carolina remains the Bulldogs’ main concern, but they head to Daytona Beach, Florida, to try and focus on football.
South Carolina State (2-2, 1-0) has a 36-0 conference victory over Florida A&M under its belt but dropped its second of three nonconference games at Furman last week, 17-3. The Bulldogs committed 13 penalties for 106 yards and turned the ball over three times. Their 13 turnovers on the season are tied for the most in the MEAC
"We got a chance to get going, get put on a positive note," Pough said. "We ended up kind of shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and that kind of stuff."
After piling up 625 total net yards against Florida A&M – 395 on the ground – South Carolina State was held to 80 rushing yards and 272 total against Furman. Pough hopes jumping back into conference play will help.
"It’s a typical South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman football game," he said. "We’ll just try to see if we can hang around and try to figure out how to win one in the end. It will be a tough football game for us."
BATTLE AT THE TOP=
Another matchup of MEAC undefeated teams comes in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday when Norfolk State hosts North Carolina A&T.
Norfolk State (2-3, 2-0) lost all three of its nonconference games but is fresh off back-to-back tight wins over Hampton, 24-14, and Howard, 15-12. Last Saturday the Spartans completed a rally from down 12-0 on a DeAndre Sangster 6-yard touchdown catch from Greg Hankerson with 41 seconds left.
North Carolina A&T (3-1, 1-0) beat Hampton 45-31 last week in its only conference game. The Aggies won 30-9 in the last meeting against Norfolk State back in 2012.
Hampton will go for its third straight win over Delaware State on Saturday and fifth in the last six years.
The Pirates (2-3, 1-2) have dropped their last two MEAC games after topping Howard 37-19 on Sept. 18. Hampton’s offense was held to 320 yards in a 24-14 loss to Norfolk State and despite outgaining North Carolina A&T 431-187 last week, the Pirates fell 45-31.
The Hornets (0-4, 0-1) dropped their conference opener 26-6 to Morgan State last Saturday, their ninth straight loss and sixth consecutive MEAC defeat dating back to last year.
ON THE REBOUND=
North Carolina Central will try to regroup from three straight losses and its conference-opening defeat to Bethune-Cookman by beating Florida A&M Saturday for the third straight time.
The Eagles (1-3, 0-1) have been outscored 122-40 since opening the season with a 72-0 win over St. Augustine’s College. Florida A&M (0-5, 0-2) has given up 73 points in its two MEAC losses, most recently falling 37-27 to Savannah State. The Rattlers have lost six straight games dating back to last year.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT=
Morgan State is looking for its third straight conference win and eighth straight victory over Savannah State on Saturday.
The Bears (2-2, 2-0) suffered through nonconference losses of 63-7 to Air Force and 67-14 against Illinois State, but they regrouped to beat Howard 21-13 and Delaware State 26-6.
Savannah State (1-3, 1-1) rebounded from a conference-opening 42-12 loss to Bethune-Cookman with its first win of the year over Florida A&M.