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HBCU Weekend Wrapup: Week 15
BOONE, N.C. — Armanti Edwards passed for a school record 433 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another to lead host Appalachian State to a 37-21 victory against South Carolina State on Saturday in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The Mountaineers (11-2), three-time reigning Subdivision champions who were unbeaten in the Southern Conference this season, notched their first 400-yard passing game during the postseason in school history. Appalachian State, which will host Richmond in next week’s quarterfinals, didn’t have a single rushing yard by a running back in the first half.
Appalachian State tried to run out the clock with less than two minutes left and a 10-point lead, but South Carolina State (10-3), ranked No. 2 in the latest BTRC/BASN HBCU Top 10 Poll, called timeout twice on the drive.
The Mountaineers countered with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Quick in the final seconds, setting off a celebration from the Mountaineers’ bench. Edwards shook off three straight three-and-outs early in the second half to lead ASU back from a 14-10 deficit.
After taking the lead just before halftime on a 27-yard hook up between Edwards and CoCo Hillary, Edwards scored from 2-yards out on the ground to extend the Mountaineers’ lead to 10 at the start of the third. Edwards finished with 48 rushing yards.
South Carolina State, unbeaten in the MEAC and coming off three straight shutouts, fought back after a cold, intermittent rain at halftime that curbed both offenses.
Trailing midway through the third, the Bulldogs’ Ronell Ferguson blocked a punt after Neil Young mishandled the snap. That gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Mountaineers’ 13 and William Ford, the MEAC rushing champion, ran it in for a 13-yard score on the next play, cutting the Appalachian State lead to 24-21. Ford finished with 125 yards on 23 carries.
The next scoring drive started with a busted play that looked like another failed third-down conversion in the third quarter. Edwards, chased out of the pocket, found T.J. Courman, who raced to the first-down marker after the catch on third-and-12.
The Mountaineers gained five more first downs on the drive, culminating in Edwards’ third touchdown pass of the day, this one for 2 yards to Brian Quick for a 10-point lead. None of the eight touchdown drives on the day lasted longer than 5:03. Two were finished in 1:05 or less.
Malcolm Long found Octavius Darby for two touchdown passes – the second for 14 yards midway through the second quarter to give South Carolina State a 14-10 lead. Long, after amassing 77 passing yards in the first quarter, finished with 176.
It was Edwards’ first multiple-interception game since last season against Georgia Southern. His streak of 176 pass attempts without an interception ended in the first quarter.
NEW ORLEANS — Greg Dillon accounted for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and Grambling State clinched a spot in the SWAC title game with a 29-14 victory over Southern in Saturday’s Bayou Classic.
Dillon was 9-of-13 for 151 yards, including an 11-yard scoring strike to Nick Lewis. Dillon also rushed for 136 yards on 26 carries, including his 14-yard score. His performance helped second-year coach Rod Broadway win his first Bayou Classic and his second SWAC West Division title.
If Southern had won, it would have forced a three-way tie between Grambling, Southern and Prairie View atop the SWAC West Division. A coin flip was tentatively scheduled Sunday to help decide the division winner in the case of a three-way tie.
But Grambling, ranked No. 3 in the latest BTRC/BASN HBCU Top 10 Poll, negated the need for it by winning the division outright and will meet Jackson State in Birmingham on Dec. 13.
Southern’s Bryant Lee accounted for 208 yards in the first half — 184 passing and 24 rushing — but left with an undisclosed injury shortly before halftime, when the Jaguars were clinging to a 14-12 lead.
Warren Matthews relieved Lee but struggled on his first several series, throwing an interception that Keefe Hall returned 30 yards to the Southern 8. That set up Cornelius Walker’s 4-yard touchdown run that gave Grambling (10-2, 7-0 SWAC) a 22-14 lead with 12:44 to go.
Matthews drove the Jaguars (6-5, 5-2) to the Grambling 16 on Southern’s next drive, but then was intercepted by T.J. McCord at the 3. Grambling’s Frank Warren added a 31-yard touchdown with 1:13 left to seal the win.
Matthews was 8-of-15 for 96 yards and three interceptions.
Lee threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Juamorris Stewart and Alvin Fosselman scored on a 1-yard run to give Southern a 14-0 lead. Leading 14-6, Southern was close to scoring again when Lee found Stewart over the middle for a 40-yard gain, but Stewart, who was in the clear, lost control of the ball and stumbled without being hit and Grambling recovered at the 12.
It was a rare misstep for Stewart, who finished with nine catches for 174 yards. Grambling’s Luis Leal kicked a 25-yard field goal, giving the Tigers a 15-14 lead they would not relinquish early in the third quarter.