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Frighteningly Good: Long, Young lead Bulldogs to Easy Halloween Win
For one game, head coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough did not have to answer questions about 10th-ranked South Carolina State’s second-half scoring difficulties.
Against Delaware State Saturday for homecoming, the Bulldogs quickly made the topic a non-issue. Sparked by a record-boosting performance by wide receiver Tre Young and career passing day by quarterback Malcolm Long, S.C. State scored early and often in rolling to a 52-10 victory.
“Probably our best all-around effort I guess,” Pough said. “I do think that we played very, very well for awhile. They got a chance to make plays on us, but we made more plays than they did this afternoon and I’m just excited by the fact that we continue to improve.”
It was the fourth straight win on the season and school-record 16th consecutive win in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play for the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-0). Two years after losing to the Hornets (2-6, 2-4) on homecoming by a point, S.C. State opened the game with 21 unanswered points en route to posting 513 yards and a season high in points.
Leading the offensive explosion was the potent combination of Long and Young. Long continued his efficient passing in completing 16 of 24 passes for a career-best 316 yards and two touchdowns, both to Young.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving me,” Long said. “They gave us a couple of deep balls, I was just taking them. I was just reading the defenses and doing the little things. The O-line played great. Will did a great job running the ball. We just did a great job offensively today.”
Meanwhile, Young, a former Burke High School standout, added to his school record for career receiving yards (1,734) set last week which was previously held by Charlie Brown (who was in attendance) with four catches for 135 yards. Young actually set the record on the road against Hampton last Saturday, but the feat went unnoticed until Saturday’s game, when it was announced over the PA system at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
“It looks like Tre is going to have a chance to play some more ball at the next level,” Pough said. “He really had a fantastic game today and he can do some things to make people have to back up. That’s what we need in a situation where we’re trying to create a run game and people seem to be wanting to try to get close to us and get us up in the run game with actual defenders. If people keep doing that, then we get a chance to throw the deep ball.”
The Bulldogs got the crowd of 21,257 fans involved early as safety Markee Hamlin intercepted an overthrown pass by quarterback Anthony Glaud at the S.C. State 36. Once again, the Bulldogs took their opening drive all the way to the end zone. Needing just six plays, Long connected with Young, who turned upfield for a 26-yard touchdown with 9:30 left in the first quarter. S.C. State added another quick score just over two minutes later on a 13-yard run by Will Ford. The four-play, 24-yard scoring drive was set up by a short punt returned 24 yards by Young. Long then scored on a 2-yard run to put S.C. State up 21-0 with 2:14 to go in the first.
The Bulldogs could not revel over the 21-point lead for long. On the ensuing kickoff, the Hornets’ Larrone Moore found an opening in S.C. State’s special teams and burst downfield for a 90-yard touchdown. It was the first kickoff return touchdown allowed by the Bulldogs this season and cut their lead to 21-7. There was still enough time for S.C. State to score again with 2:02 left in the first quarter. After a 38-yard kickoff return by Ford, Young turned a short pass into a 22-yard reception. With one second left in the first quarter, Blake Erickson kicked a 37-yard field goal to make it 24-7.
“It was a downer to give up the kickoff return … but to be perfectly honest, we couldn’t have had a better case scenario for the first quarter,” Pough said.
Erickson’s counterpart, Riley Flickinger, was not as fortunate opening the second quarter. The Hornets drove the football to the S.C. State 8 on 13 plays, setting up a 26-yard attempt by Flickinger which sailed wide right. Taking over at its own 20 with 8:24 remaining, S.C. State immediately went in for the kill. Long dropped back and sent a deep pass downfield in stride to Young who outran the Hornet defender into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown bomb.
“It was the same exact play (as the pass thrown for long yards against the University of South Carolina),” Long said. “I told Tre if the safety bites down on the run, I’m going to put it up there and he said ‘I’ll go get it, Malcolm’ and that’s what he did.”
The PAT by Erickson sent the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 31-7 advantage. Despite the margin, Young said the team was determined to maintain their offensive momentum.
“We pretty much came in at half-time saying that we’re not going to take our foot off the gas,” he said. “We were going to keep pushing, keep pushing until we know the game was pretty much over.”
S.C. State continued its relentless play in the second half. On its first possession, the Bulldogs drove 75 yards on seven plays, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Travil Jamison to make it 38-7 with 11:56 remaining in the third quarter. Terrance Smith made two big catches on the scoring drive, the latter coming on a “Herculean” run after the catch in which he twisted and fought through several Hornet tacklers for a 40-yard reception.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Elko entered the game for Delaware State and drove his team downfield 65 yards for a 23-yard field goal by Flickinger. The Bulldogs answered back with a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive, capped by Ford’s 9-yard touchdown run to make it 45-10 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
Ford finished with 17 carries for 87 yards, leaving him 364 yards shy of first place in MEAC career rushing yards. S.C. State’s defense closed out the scoring with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Senior defensive back Phillip Adams intercepted an Elko pass and raced untouched 36 yards for the touchdown.
Despite the absence of leading tackler David Erby and starting defensive end Jayson Ayers, the Bulldogs held the Hornets to just 13 first downs and 225 total yards of offense.
“I thought going into the game that they were an outstanding football team,” Delaware State head coach Al Lavan said. “As good a run-and-hit team as I’ve seen Buddy have. They were every bit as good as I thought they were going in and certainly we didn’t play very well. But they had a great deal to do with that and I just wish them the best of luck.”
The Bulldogs now head into November, where they have won 21 consecutive conference games and are 21-4 under Pough. S.C. State heads on the road to face Howard.
Frighteningly Good: Long, Young lead Bulldogs to easy Halloween homecoming win
By THOMAS GRANT JR., The Orangeburg Times & Democrat