Sept. 28, 2013
By Ryan Smith - Rocky Mount, NC - On a cool partly cloudy afternoon in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the Broncos and the Vikings went to Battle in the 16th annual Down East Viking Football Classic.
The Bronocs got off to a rough start on the first play of their opening drive fumbling the ball, which lead to a Viking recovery. Although, the Fayetteville defense stood strong by not allowing a touchdown on ECSU opening drive. Brett Symonds knocked down the 32-yard field goal putting the Vikings up 3-0 with just over 13:00 to go in the first quarter.
With 8:34 left in the first quarter the ECSU offense continued to apply the pressure with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Casey Turner to Darius Wesson. Brett Symonds punched through the extra point, extending the Viking lead to 10-0.
Brett Symonds made the Broncos pay for some costly penalties in the first quarter by connecting on his 22-yard field goal attempt. With 1:37 left in the first quarter the Vikings led 13-0. Fayetteville State had 6 penalties resulting in 37 yards. This defiantly stalled the Broncos attack both offensively and defensively in the first quarter.
After a Vikings interception, by Tyrrel Jones at midfield the Broncos defense again was tested after the Vikings drove almost 30 yards. After a delay of game penalty on 4th-and-3, Brett Symonds tried to extend the ECSU lead with a 40 yard field goal, but hooked it right.
The Broncos took advantage of the turnover and finally kicked their offense into gear. Derek Bryant (Carboro, NC) entered the game under center and instantly made his presence felt. Bryant connected on a huge 84-yard bomb to Kasunn Williams (Rocky Mount, NC) for the Broncos first score of the game. This allowed Fayetteville State to make the game a little more interesting at ECSU 13 Fayetteville State 7 with 12:22 left in the second quarter. Derek gave the credit back to his coaches in preparing him for coming into the game at such an early time in the ball game.
"Our coaches do a great job at preparing us for each game from the first string to the fourth string, where I was, and it allows us to come out and play".
Coach Errick Hargrove must have set a fire under his defense because the Broncos came alive in the second quarter. After the Vikings drove all the way down the field following the scoring drive by FSU, the defense had to make a crucial stop on 4th down. Elizabeth City State decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the FSU 7-yard line. The Broncos pushed backed and held their ground forcing the second straight Viking turnover.
Derek Bryant capped a 93-yard drive with another touchdown pass, this time to Juwan Moye (Raleigh, NC). Bryant commented on his receivers saying "that he has a great group of receivers and he loves throwing to all of them. Not a single one is his favorite". This 70-yard pass on 3rd-and-14 from Bryant gave the Broncos their first lead of the game at 14-13 with 12:22 left in the second quarter.
However, the Vikings took advantage of the soft zone defense of the Broncos secondary and quickly took a 12-play 88-yard drive finished off by a one yard rush by Petey Boone and retook the lead 20-14 with 7:51 remaining in the first half. Petey Boone, for the Vikings, scored the only rushing touchdown in the first half.
The opening drive of the second half for the Vikings drove them 55 yards; exploiting again the soft zone defense of the Broncos. However, after a stop on 3rd down inside of the red zone, it came up to the tenacious Fayetteville defense to stop the Viking attack. Brett Symonds field goal attempt was again missed; this time wide left as he could not seem to find the uprights for his 2nd missed field goal of the night.
The two teams alternated possessions. Finally, Fayetteville's defense still with that fire burning from the first half forced Elizabeth City State's first punt of the ball game. Tavon Gatlin took Brett Symonds 48-yard punt back 22 yards.
Hometown hero Marquavis Alston (Rocky Mount, NC) led the Broncos Scoring drive late in the 3rd quarter; pounding out 58 yards on the ground. The 65-yard drive ended on an 11-yard run by Alston, who was playing in his first game of the season after sitting out the first three games of the young campaign. Antonio Mayo added the extra point and gave Fayetteville State the lead again; 21-20 with 5:52 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Alston said "it felt good to come back home and play in front of a home crowd. A lot of people have been waiting to see me come showcase my talents now and it felt good and it was a very special moment".
The Vikings quickly ran down the field and scored with 28 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter. As time expired, Casey Turner connected with Keith Strickland on a 44 yard touchdown pass and with a Brett Symonds extra point good the Vikings regained the lead 27-21.
Defense again was the name of the game as the Broncos came up with a huge fumble recovery by Ruben Ortega. The Broncos defense kept them in the game as this turnover allowed the Broncos to drive down the field for another score.
Derek Bryant connected for his 3rd touchdown pass of the night hooking up with Juwan Moye. This was Moye's second TD reception of the game to go with along his 85 yards. The momentum was starting to shift to the Broncos as they regained the lead 31-27 with 11:24 left in the game.
The climax of the game was the final ECSU drive that started at 1:54 left in the game. Casey Turner led the Vikings down the field with a 60-yard passing performance that came down to one final play. With less than 30 seconds to go on 4th down, Turners threw one final pass into the end zone into the hands of Darius Wesson; where a huge hit jarred the ball loose and the Broncos took over on downs.
After the victory formation was sent out and the ball was snapped only once, the Broncos took the victory from the Vikings 31-27 and claiming their first conference win of the year. Not since against St. Paul's in 2009 has Fayetteville started conference play with a win.
Head Coach Lawrence Kershaw talked at the end of the game about how "it was a great character building win for us. The guys fought against the momentum that was going against us. The defense wasn't the best; but we got a stop when we needed to. I think we're on our way!"
Fayetteville State converted all of their red-zone chances (3-for-3); whereas Elizabeth City was only 50% (4-for-8).
The Broncos move to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the CIAA. Next up the Broncos host the Hawks of Chowan University on October 5; game time is slated for 4:00 pm.
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