Oct. 2, 2010
RALEIGH, NC - What the Fayetteville State Broncos might give to have a chance to replay the first quarter.
St. Augustine's got the cushion it needed throughout a wild game in the opening period, using 150 yards of rushing from the CIAA's leading rusher Walter Sanders to race out to an early 19-0 lead.
The Falcons needed it. Because a fighting Broncos team made sure St. Augustine's cashed in just about every last bit of that house money.
Fayetteville State (1-4, 0-2) made several furious comebacks, but didn't have enough in the end, as Sanders nearly reset his own school record for rushing in a single game as the Falcons (4-1, 3-0) held off the Broncos 42-36 on Saturday at Broughton High School Stadium in Raleigh.
Sanders, who ran for 262 yards in 2008, finished with 243 yards and three touchdowns, doing most of his damage in the first quarter , which proved to be the decisive moments in the game.
The Falcons marched down the field on their opening series, getting a lot of help from Sanders. The drive, though, was capped by a spectacular move by Jone Harris, who took Joaquin Green's pass into the left flat and then leapt into the corner of the end zone, going head over heels for a 6-0 Falcons' lead less than 5 minutes into the game.
St. Augustine's kept up the pressure in the opening period, though it appeared as though it was the Broncos who were applying the pressure. In what will likely go down as the most bizarre play of the season - perhaps in all of the CIAA - Sanders scored on a 41-yard touchdown run only after Green fumbled the ball away while in the throes of a Broncos' sack. After the ball popped loose near the right sideline, Sanders raced over, scooped it up and found a running lane back toward the middle of the field, reaching the end zone untouched as the Falcons took a 13-0 lead with 5:07 to go in the first quarter.
St. Aug's hit paydirt again less than 2 minutes later when Sanders broke free for a 70-yard scoring rush on the first play of their next series, giving the Falcons what looked like a comfortable lead.
But the Broncos fought back, as they would for the entire game. Just before the end of the quarter, quarterback Robert Benjamin
(Jr., Phoenix, AZ) hooked up with Jamere Pugh
(So., Henderson, NC) for a 49-yard pass play to the Falcons' 15. Two plays later, despite being backed up to the 21, Benjamin found LaMarcus Bond
(So., Ahoskie, NC) on a crossing pattern for the 21-yard score, bringing the Broncos back in it to 19-7.
Fayetteville State got closer on Austin Turner's (Jr., San Diego, CA) 41-yard field goal with 10:21 to go in the second quarter, making it 19-10.
But after long kickoff return to the Broncos' 41, Alexander Tucker booted a 21-yard field goal for a 22-10 Falcons' lead with 5:51 to go in the half.
The Broncos seemed in prime position to get a score before the end of the half, but muffed a punt with under 2 minutes remaining, setting the Falcons up on Broncos' territory. Green made the mistake sting even worse, arching a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tyron Laughinghouse for 28-10 lead with 1:05 remaining.
Tucker's PAT attempt was blocked, though, and John Hicks Sr., Wilmington, NC) returned it 90 yards for a 2-point conversion for the Broncos, bringing FSU to 28-12, which is how the half ended.
The fireworks were only beginning.
Fayetteville State outplayed St. Augustine's for much of the second half, and after holding Sanders to just 12 yards of rushing as the game was entering the fourth quarter, it seemed as though the Broncos were on the verge of completing a monumental comeback.
The Broncos started the second half quickly using a Michael Staton (So., Charlotte, NC) kickoff return to start at the Falcons' 35. A few plays later, Turner connected again, hitting from 21 yards to make it 28-15 less than 3 minutes into the half.
With the Broncos' defense stuffing Sanders and Co., the unit began to make even bigger plays. Andre Lyles (Jr., Ahoskie, NC) rose to snatch down an interception to set up FSU at its 38. On third down, Benjamin scampered out of trouble to pick up the first down. Richard Medlin (Sr., Raleigh, NC) took care of things from there, racing 28 yards up the middle for a touchdown to bring the Broncos within one score, 28-22, with 5:50 left in the third.
St. Aug's appeared to take control again, though, after Anthony Harris blocked a punt and recovered it at the Broncos' 9. Green found Rowdy Batchelor a few plays later for an 11-yard score, and the Falcons went back up by two scores, 35-22.
The Broncos came right back, using a Hakeem Vinson (Fr., Smithfield, NC) sack and fumble recovery to start on the Falcons' 40 with 11 minutes to go. A pass interference penalty kept the drive alive on third down, but on third-and-19 a few plays later, Benjamin bought time in the pocket, moved left and rifled an arching pass into the corner of the end zone to B.J. Washington (Sr., Baltimore, MD). That made it 35-29 with 9:42 to go.
But the Falcons answered yet again. Sanders capped a seven-play, 57-yard drive with a 7-yard scoring run, and St. Aug's led by two scores again, 42-29, with 6:10 remaining.
And still, FSU tried to come back, turning St. Aug's over on downs twice deep in Broncos territory. Benjamin kept scrambling, and the Broncos kept moving, when finally Benjamin found Washington for a 35-yard touchdown with 18.9 seconds left.
Back within a touchdown at 42-36, the Broncos attempted an onside kick. The ball bounded high, but went out of bounds as the Broncos tried to corral it, effectively ending the game.
Benjamin finished with 71 yards rushing on 16 carries while passing for 241 yards and three scores. Medlin added 51 yards rushing on 13 carries while Washington had six receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Green finished 11 of 21 for 156 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Jamain Smith had six catches for 89 yards.