Sept. 4, 2010
By ALEX PODLOGAR
PEMBROKE, NC - Even in a defeat, the inaugural Two Rivers Classic was at least memorable for the Fayetteville State Broncos.
The second edition is one they may want to forget.
UNC Pembroke held on to the Two Rivers Cup following a 39-0 season-opening victory over the Broncos on Saturday at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
"It's adversity, and it's how you handle it," said Broncos coach Kenny Phillips, the 2009 CIAA Coach of the Year. "It's all about how you come out of it."
The Braves' DeVante Bush recorded three of Pembroke's five sacks of Broncos reserve quarterback Andreas Hudson as the Braves held defending CIAA Champion Fayetteville State to just 81 yards of total offense. Hudson was playing in place of starter Robert Benjamin, who is awaiting certification by the NCAA after transferring to Fayetteville State from Wyoming in January.
Fayetteville State did not know Benjamin would not be able to play until Friday. While acknowledging that it was a tough situation for the Broncos to handle, Phillips refused to make excuses.
"One guy is not the difference," Phillips said. "We didn't play very well on either side of the football."
The game was still close at the half, as Pembroke managed just a 7-0 lead at the break, despite outgaining the Broncos 167-70 and holding a 13-3 advantage in first downs. But the Braves broke through with 17 points in the third quarter and 15 more in the fourth. The Braves scored nine points in a span of just 9 seconds in the fourth quarter. After the Braves recorded a safety to make it 26-0, Pembroke running back Rashon Kennedy went 50 yards on the first play following the free kick for another touchdown.
Kennedy finished with a game-high 115 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. A year ago, in Pembroke's 41-34 double-overtime victory at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Stadium, Kennedy rushed for 101 yards. On this night, though, he was also bolstered by quarterback Cory Smith's 191 yards and a score on 17-of-26 passing.
, who led the Broncos with 10 rushing touchdowns in 2009 but did not play Pembroke last year because of injury, was limited to 23 yards on 10 carries. Hudson finished 16 of 25 for 105 yards. Medlin added 39 yards receiving on seven catches while Carlin Jordan
had 26 yards on four receptions.
Pembroke took control of the game in the second half, scoring on its first possession with a five-play, 82-yard drive that opened with four complete passes before Keith Gore scored from 4 yards out. Things went downhill for the Broncos from there, as Pembroke finished with 450 total yards and 26 first downs.
"You have to give credit to Coach (Pete Shinnick), his team outplayed us and played harder than us," Phillips said. "I can tell you this much. That will be the last time any football team plays harder than us on a Saturday night."
Medlin felt the same way.
"It's very disappointing," he said. "We didn't have much effort out there. The one thing you can always control is your effort, and we didn't have that tonight."
Fayetteville State will host Bowie State at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11. in the Broncos' home opener. Fayetteville State defeated Bowie State 27-17 in the CIAA Championship in Durham in the team's most recent meeting. The Bulldogs fell 14-7 in their season opener to Morgan State on Saturday night.
"Not to take anything away from Pembroke, but Bowie State is a lot bigger than Pembroke up front," Phillips said. "It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us.
"We've just got get back in and figure out what we can do and what we can't do. We have to analyze what we did tonight."