WATCH: Benedict Tigers fall short to Savannah State
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Savannah State used an interception return for a touchdown to take an early lead and held on to defeat the Benedict College Tigers 21-14 in the Augusta Classic on Saturday evening at Lucy Laney High School stadium in the conference opener for both schools.
Benedict falls to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the SIAC. Savannah State moves to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the SIAC.
On Benedict’s second offensive series of the game, quarterback Phillip Brown was intercepted by Savannah State’s Dondre Butler, who returned the pick 43 yards for the score and put SSU ahead 7-0 with 7:05 remaining in the first quarter.
“This was a tough game. I thought we played hard,” said Benedict College head coach Mike White. “We’re still showing our weak spots where we’re not strong, especially offensively. Defensively, we keep giving up that big play. But I was proud of the way they hung in there.”
Benedict held the potent Savannah State ground game in check for the most part, limiting the SSU Tigers to 138 yards rushing. Savannah State completed only three passes in the game, but all were for big gains.
Benedict’s Derun Williams recovered a fumbled Savannah State punt, giving BC the ball at the 15-yard line. Five plays later, Brown carried around the left side on a quarterback keeper and made an outstretched leap into the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown run. Rigoberto Tinoco added the PAT to tie the game, 7-7, with 12:56 left in the first half. Neither team threatened the rest of the half and the score remained 7-7 at the half.
Savannah State regained the lead in the third quarter on a two-play scoring drive. D’Angelo Durham rushed for 14 yards and D’vonn Gibbons found a streaking Major Bellamy open for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 8:32 on the clock to give SSU a 14-7 lead.
Savannah State made it 21-7 with 2:10 left in the game when Durham carried from the 1-yard line on third-and-goal. That capped off an eight-play, 47-yard drive that was highlighted by a 20-yard pass from Gibbons to Julian Roberts on third-and-eight from the Benedict 21-yard line.
Under time pressure, the Tigers had their best offensive drive of the game on the next possession. After a 26-yard kickoff return by Drelon Freeman, the Tigers moved 65 yards on just five plays, with Brown throwing an eight-yard scoring pass to Raylen Elzy with 1:02 left.
The BC Tigers attempted an on-sides kick, but Savannah State recovered. Benedict forced a punt, and got the ball back with 29 seconds remaining. Brown completed a 44-yard pass to Elzy as the final horn sounded, but it was not enough to prevent Benedict’s third straight loss.
“To win games like this, you’ve got to play flawless,” White said. “We made a mistake or two more than they did tonight.”
Brown was named the Benedict MVP of the Augusta Classic after completing 16-of-30 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Robert Cummings led the defense with eight tackles, including two tackles for loss.
Benedict will compete in its third consecutive classic game next week when the Tigers travel to Greenville, S.C. to face the Fort Valley State Wildcats in the HBCU Upstate Classic at 3 p.m.
Savannah State used an interception return for a touchdown to take an early lead and held on to defeat the Benedict College Tigers 21-14 in the Augusta Classic on Saturday evening at Lucy Laney High School stadium in the conference opener for both schools.
VIDEO COURTESY: WJBF