HIGHLIGHTS: Benedict takes down Central State, 21-11

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Benedict College Tigers threw for a season-high 198 yards and remained unbeaten at home with a 21-11 victory over the Central State Marauders in Charlie W. Johnson Stadium on Saturday night.

Starting quarterback Dominique Harris completed 8-of-13 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown before suffering an injury with less than a minute to play in the first half. Phillip Brown came in and played the entire second half as Harris watched from the sideline with his leg wrapped and standing with the aid of a single crutch.

“I was happy we won the game, but I’m not happy with the way we played. I thought that was our worst game out of the five we’ve played,” Benedict head coach Mike White said. “We’ll take a week off and see if we can get better.”

Benedict, now 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the SIAC, held Central State to a season-low 102 yards passing. But with the Tigers focused on stopping Central State’s air attack, the Marauders were able to rush for a season-best 156 yards. Central State falls to 0-5 on the season and 0-2 in the SIAC.

“We gave up too many big plays, and we’re too inconsistent right now,” White said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and see if we can get some things right.”

The Tigers, who entered the game ranked eighth nationally in sacks per game, registered three sacks against the Marauders. But White said the Tigers may have been too consumed about sacks, allowing the Marauders to peel off some big running gains on draw plays.

“I think we got a little sack happy and started over-running it. Their offense did a good job of attacking us on that. I thought we had trouble all night on that play. I thought we would play the run a lot better and not give up so many big plays. That’s the one thing that is disappointing. I’m happy with the win, but just not happy with the way we played.”

Benedict struck first in the first quarter, capping off an 8-play, 8-yard drive with a 25-yard pass from Harris to Danye Washington with 18 seconds left in the quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the Marauders got a 43-yard return by Terraris Saffold to give Central State the ball at midfield. The Benedict defense held Central State to a 33-yard field goal by Trevor Teel with 11:14 on the clock to cut the lead to 7-3.

Later in the quarter, Benedict drove the length of the field again, going 77 yards on 10 plays. The key play on the drive was a 44-yard bomb from Harris to Okechi Ntiasagwe to give Benedict a first down at the 10-yard line. On fourth down from the 1-yard line, Benedict kept the offense on the field and Harris pushed his way into the end zone. Tory Mimbs added the PAT to put Benedict ahead 14-3. Benedict got the ball back with 1:34 left in the half, and facing a second-and-20, Harris sprinted for a 25-yard gain to the Central State 30 with 52 seconds left. Harris slid at the end of the play, but had to be helped off the field, limping to the sideline. Tory Mimbs‘ 33-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half hit the left upright and bounced off to the left.

White said the Tigers will know more about the extent of Harris’ injury after he is evaluated by medical personnel.

“He’s a big part of our team, and if he’s down, then we’ve got to go to plan B. We’re just hoping he’s fine right now and gets well soon.”

Brown completed 4-of-7 passes for 55 yards and one touchdown in the second half.

“I thought Phillip did a good job,” White said. “He’s one of the guys who has class schedule conflicts that don’t allow him to practice as much. He held is composure and I thought overall he did a good job.”

The Tigers went ahead 21-3 with 5:25 left in the third quarter when Brown threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ntiasagwe. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard pass from Brown to Ntiasagwe.

The Marauders went on a 14-play, 80-yard drive with Trent Mays throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Darius Ford. The Marauders were successful on the two-point conversion attempt, with Mays completing a pass to Martell Clark after evading several Benedict pass rushers. Central State attempted an on-sides kick, but Benedict recovered, but fumbled the ball back to the Marauders. Three incomplete passes and a sack gave the ball back to Benedict and the Tigers were able to run out the clock.

“I was glad we caught a few passes and made some plays offensively throwing the ball when we needed to,” White said.

Edward Kirkland and Dontavis Hunt led the Benedict defense with eight tackles each. The Tigers did have 14 tackles for loss for minus 72 yards.

Benedict has a rare mid-season off week before returning to action on Oct. 14 at home against Clark Atlanta for Homecoming.

“We’ll try to get a little healthy and pay attention to the last five games we’ve played and see if we can focus on certain things we know we can get better on,” White said.

Benedict Athletics contributed to the writing of this article.

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