Benedict Falls To Viginia State 30-20

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BC SID) — The Benedict Tigers gained a season-high 335 yards of total offense, but the defense wasn’t up to the challenge as the Virginia State University Trojans took a 30-20 victory over the Tigers in the 11th annual Palmetto Capital City Classic at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. “Offensively, we changed some things up,” said Benedict coach James Woody. “I’m not a guy who makes excuses. I take this loss for the whole team. But I can say we’re getting better in some spots. But it’s still like a roller coaster. Inconsistency has taken place on both sides of the ball and special teams.” The Tigers, now 0-3 on the season, gave up five plays of 20 or more yards, including a pair of long touchdown passes from Virginia State quarterback LaMonta Green, who finished the game completing 12-of-19 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans, who improved to 1-2 on the season, also had 149 yards rushing, including a 51-yard run by Lamont Britt. “We’re out of place defensively,” Woody said. “We’ve still got guys who are not lined up right. That’s something we’ve got to do as a coaching staff and get back there and fix it. And I think this football team will be OK.” Senior quarterback Christopher Thomas started the game and played the first half, going 9-of-15 for 94 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Graham played the second half, going 7-of-20 for 138 yards and a touchdown and one interception. Christopher Johnson had 10 carries on the ground for 50 yards as the Tigers gained a season-high 103 yards rushing. Johnson had 196 all-purpose yards, adding 58 yards receiving and 88 return yards. The Trojans took the opening kickoff and drove 51 yards on seven plays for the first score of the game. Facing a third-and-12, Green connected with Corey Young for a 26-yard scoring toss. The Tigers tied the score on an 80-yard drive. Kendariss Brown ignited the drive with a 24-yard completion from Johnson, then capped off the drive with a 9-yard reception for the score. In the second quarter, a 25-yard punt return by Virginia State’s Sean Smith set up the Trojans at the Benedict 43-yard line. The Trojans moved the 43 yards in six plays, with Tyler Wilson scoring the touchdown on a 6-yard run for a 14-7 Virginia State lead. Johnson had an electrifying 58-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Tigers excellent field position. But the Tigers gained just two yards, and Eduardo Hernandez kicked a 43-yard field goal to cut the Trojans’ lead to 14-10 with 4:34 left in the first half. Virginia State took the ensuing kickoff and drove 54 yards in seven plays. The backbreaking play was a 42-yard pass from Green to Dion Futch, giving the Tigers a first-and-goal at the 10. Tyler Wilson capped off the drive with a 1-yard scoring run. The PAT missed, giving Virginia State a 20-10 lead, which they took into the half. The Trojans tacked on a 22-yard field goal by Devonte Hunt with 7:07 left in the third quarter for a 23-10 lead. The Tigers got the ensuing kickoff and Tyquan Bazemore had a 23-yard return to put the ball at the Benedict 38-yard line. Johnson plowed for a 9-yard pickup on first down, but the Tigers had three straight running plays with no gain, including a fourth-down attempt that came up less than an inch short. The Trojans took over and scored on a 44-yard pass from Green to Ja’vo Smallwood on third down, putting the Trojans ahead 30-10. Graham threw a 48-yard pass to Johnson on the final play of the third quarter to cut the lead to 30-17. An interception and 21-yard return by Martin Epps gave the Tigers the ball at the VSU 34-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter. A 26-yard run by Emmanuel Houston gave the Tigers a first-and-goal at the VSU 8-yard line, but the Tigers couldn’t punch through the end zone and Hernandez kicked a 29-yard field goal to cut the lead to 30-20 with 11:31 on the clock. The Tigers got the ball with 5:35 left to play and were moving to midfield before Graham fumbled and the Trojans recovered and ran out the clock. Epps led the defense with 10 total tackles, one interception and one pass breakup. Reynard Parks added eight tackles. The Tigers take to the road next week, opening SIAC play at Fort Valley State.

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