Following a championship season in 2013, many wondered how South Carolina State would fare after losing key players and coaches heading into the 2014 campaign.
For now, the Bulldogs have managed to silence those questions for now after shutting out Benedict 63-0 on their home field in the Palmetto Capital City Classic.
"We played a good first half," Benedict head coach James Woody said. "It was like deja vu like last year. We played a good first half against a Division I football team. You can't make the mistakes that we made offensively. I thought the defense played extremely well in the first half."
The Bulldogs put the first points on the scoreboard late in the first half as Jalen Simmons scampered past the Tigers' defense to put Buddy Pough's squad up 7-0.
The MEAC co-champions would add another touchdown just before halftime when Adrian Kollock took the option 39 yards to push the Bulldogs' lead to 14-0.
However, the South Carolina State offense had their struggles in the first half. Two fumbles in the second quarter would give the Tigers both hope, good field position, and a chance to keep the game close.
"I told them that we had to play a lot better in the second half," SC State head coach Buddy Pough said. "We didn't play very good at all and didn't take care of the football. It was pretty ugly in the first half. We were hoping that, maybe, we'd come back out and establish ourselves and we did."
The message got through to Pough's players as Simmons and Justin Taylor each accounted for rushing touchdowns in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the defense continued to wear down the Benedict offense and the dividends from their work would pay off in the third quarter.
Senior defensive end Andrew Carter comes up with a forced fumble late in the third and Javon Hargrave scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 61 yards for the score making it 35-0.
"They controlled the line of scrimmage," Woody said of the Bulldogs defense. "We couldn't stop them in the second half and that's the bottom line. That depth kicked in. That Division I depth kicked in."
The Tigers finished the day with 228 yards in total offense, but only finished 56 on the ground. The Bulldogs ended the day with 541 total yards. Of those, 381 came from their rushing attack.
SC State tacked on 28 more points in the final quarter on their way to picking up their first win of the year. Now, the Bulldogs will turn their attention to preparing for their showdown in Death Valley with Clemson.
"We've got to get through the week in a way where we have a great preparation for Clemson this coming week," Pough said. "It'll be a tough matchup for us. Our butts better figure out how to get a lot better real fast."
Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.