The Fayetteville State Broncos opened its 2012 football season with a 54-31 loss to the Division I - FCS North Carolina Central Eagles in front of 9,077 fans on Saturday evening at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
The Broncos fall to 24-9 in the all-time series with the Eagles, and will travel to UNC Pembroke on Sept. 8 for the Fourth Annual Two Rivers Classic at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
Fayetteville State (0-1) used a two-quarterback system in the opener as Andreas Hudson started the contest before Chauncey Concepcion replaced him in the second quarter. Hudson made his first start for the Broncos since the 2010 season opener against UNC Pembroke, but would later suffer an injury later in the year that forced him to miss both the remainder of the 2010 campaign and the entire 2011 season.
"I thought Andreas threw the ball well tonight, and Chauncey did some good things with the football," said head coach Kenny Phillips. "Chauncey threw the interception, but other than that I thought we played well as a football team. I told the team before the game the thing we can't do is turn the football over; and we come out and turn the football over four times. You can't do that and win football games. To me, that's the difference in this football game is those four turnovers."
The Fayetteville State defense and special teams set the tone early in the opening quarter as North Carolina Central (1-0) was forced to punt in its first two possessions, and the second punt put the Broncos ahead 7-0 as Joseph McLean blocked an Oleg Parent punt and Chris Person recovered it and rank eight yards for the first touchdown of the season.
The Eagles' special teams responded a few minutes later as Geovonie Irvine returned an Antonio Mayo punt 31 yards for the game-tying touchdown, but Mayo put Fayetteville State back in front 10-7 with a 38-yard field goal. The field goal by Mayo was the second of his career on his second collegiate attempt, and capped an 11-play 56-yard drive that was aided by two 15-yard penalties by North Carolina Central.
The Broncos forced the Eagles to punt on the following possession, but fumbled on the first play of their drive and led to a three-yard touchdown run by Andre Clark on the very next play to go back on top 14-10. It became 20-10 on North Carolina Central's next possession on Arthur Goforth's 11-yard touchdown run.
Concepcion would enter the game following the touchdown and immediately made an impact as he went 4-for-4 passing for 50 yards, including a long of 17, and scored from six-yards out with 31.7 seconds remaining in the half to trim Fayetteville State's deficit to 20-17.
The Broncos offense opened the second half with a solid drive offensively, led by Concepcion, moving into Eagle territory. North Carolina Central's defense then forced Concepcion into his first mistake of the game as Allonte Tuppins intercepted his pass and returned it 69-yards to extend the Eagles lead to 27-17. Fayetteville State then fumbled the following kick-off, and North Carolina Central made it 34-17 three plays later on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Matt Goggans to Irvine.
The Broncos were not to be denied as Michael Johnson returned the following kick-off 94 yards for a touchdown to make it a 34-24 contest, but the Eagles scored on their next two possessions on touchdown runs by Clarke and Gary Douglas. North Carolina Central made it a 48-24 contest after those two touchdowns.
Concepcion responded to the two touchdowns by going 5-for-5 for Fayetteville State through the air for 52 yards, while also rushing for eight, as Tyrel Bryant-Dove capped off the drive by running in from 19-yards out and cut the score to 48-31.
Adrian Wilkins would end the game for the Eagles as he returned a Bronco punt 57 yards for a touchdown as time expired to end the game with a 54-31 score.
Concepcion finished the game 14-for-18 through the air for 141 yards, while Hudson went 6-for-7 for 58 yards. Bryant-Dove led the Fayetteville State ground game with 33 yards, and Antonio Allen had 68 receiving yards and tied Kasunn Williams with five catches each. Johnson also had a team-high eight tackles on defense as four Bronco players were in on sacks. Joshua Scales also had an interception for Fayetteville State.