Sept. 11, 2010
By ALEX PODLOGAR
FAYETTEVILLE, NC -Richard Medlin ran for a career-high in rushing. Robert Benjamin effectively ran the offense. And the defense was suffocating.
This is what Fayetteville State head coach Kenny Phillips meant by getting back to Bronco Football.
Fayetteville State shook off the dregs of last week's season-opener at UNC Pembroke with a dominating performance over Bowie State in a rematch of the 2009 CIAA Championship game, dumping the Bulldogs 27-7 at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Stadium on Saturday night.
"Our student-athletes did a great job responding to a lot of adversity from last week, and we played the way Bronco Football is supposed to be played," Phillips said of the defending CIAA Champions. "We played a tough football game and beat a good football team."
Medlin, the 2008 CIAA Special Teams Player of the Year, continued his ascent at Fayetteville State as one of the University's premier running backs, setting a personal record with 163 yards rushing. His previous high was 149 yards in an Oct. 19, 2009 in a victory over Johnson C. Smith.
"I had a lot of lanes to go through," Medlin said, giving his teammates up front the credit for his career performance. "My hat's off to the offensive line, the tight ends, the fullbacks - they all did an excellent job . All I had to do was run through the lanes."
The Broncos scored their first touchdown of the season and took their first lead when Benjamin, playing in his first game as the Broncos' starter, found Dallin Gray for a 1-yard scoring toss with 13:56 to go in the second quarter. The play capped an eight-play, 66-yard drive sparked by a 27-yard pass play to Medlin.
"He's the total package," Phillips said the senior running back from Raleigh, NC. "He can catch the football, block and run it. I think he's one of the best backs in the league."
The point-after try, though, was blocked, leaving FSU with a 6-0 lead.
Bowie State (0-3) answered the score, however, marching 80 yards in eight plays after switching to wide receiver Clifton Budd at quarterback. Running the spread formation, Budd was terror on the ground and through the air, leading the Bulldogs down the field and into the end zone on a 14-yard run with 10:04 to go in the period.
"It took us a minute to adjust to (Budd at quarterback) because we didn't see that on the previous two films," Phillips said.
Fayetteville State answered that score later. With 5:41 to go in the half, Medlin broke outside and raced down the left sideline, finding the end zone from 27 yards out to give the Broncos a 13-7 lead after an Austin Turner PAT. It was a lead the Broncos held into the half after FSU's Aaron Patterson blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt by Michael Gagne.
Budd's emergence in the second quarter enabled Bowie State to stay in the game - for a while. The Bulldogs nearly matched the Broncos for total yards in the first half, but once the Fayetteville State coach staff had the time to make a few key adjustments, the Broncos were back on a roll.
"We had to take a moment to make some adjustments for (Budd), and we made them at the half," Phillips said.
Did they ever. Bowie State had just 245 yards in the game, only 71 of which came in the second half.
Meanwhile, Fayetteville State was off and running, using its stringent defense as well. The Broncos came out firing to start the second half, capping a 5-play, 48-yard drive when Benjamin lofted a pass high to LaMarcus Bond, who made a play on the ball, coming back to retrieve it before scoring to give FSU a 20-7 lead.
Bowie State did little after that. Its last seven offensive series of the second half resulted in three interceptions, a fumble and three punts.
John Hicks, who with Andre Lyles and Andrew Bowden had an interception, said that the Broncos began their winning march on Saturday during the week of practice leading up to the game.
"We practiced much harder. We worked much harder," the senior cornerback from Wilmington, NC said. "You can't play hard if you don't practice hard, and we wanted to play harder tonight."
FSU added a touchdown on Benjamin's QB sneak at the 12:25 mark of the fourth quarter to make it 27-7. Benjamin finished 13 of 26 for 140 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Running back Michael Staton added 46 yards rushing on 11 carries while Bond led the Broncos with 49 yards on three receptions. Marques Wade had 41 yards on four catches and Medlin finished with an additional 40 yards of offense - not to mention a 47-yard kickoff return - on three receptions.
Junior linebacker Jeremy Cunningham had 12 more tackles - he led the Broncos with 13 last week - while Lyles and Bryan Houston added seven each.
Budd finished the game with a team-high 58 yards rushing on eight carries while Ramono Flowers added 44 yards on eight rushes. Budd was 7 of 20 through the air for 92 yards.
Fayetteville State plays Elizabeth City State in Rocky Mount at 4 p.m. on Sept. 18.