Oct. 8, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - Virginia State raced out to a 14-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
The Fayetteville Broncos had the Trojans right where they wanted them.
Fayetteville State, prone to slow starts all season, responded with 49 unanswered points -- all after the 8:34 mark of the second quarter -- on its way to a convincing 49-21 victory over Virginia State on Saturday at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Stadium.
Colon Bailey (So., Manteo, N.C.) scored a career-high three touchdowns - all in the comeback second quarter - scoring on 43 percent of his seven carries as the Broncos won their second consecutive game and rallied a second straight time from a 14-0 deficit.
A week ago, the Broncos (2-4, 2-1) shook off a two-touchdown deficit to come back and beat Southern Division rival St. Augustine's 31-28 in overtime after a 34-yard Austin Turner (Sr., San Diego, Calif.) game-winning field goal.
"We sure would like to stop giving up these early leads," said Fayetteville State head coach Kenny Phillips. "If we could figure out a way not to keep falling into a two-touchdown hole -- we seem to go down 14-0 the start every game - then we might really be on to something. But it shows the character and fight of this football team to come back again and really play a fantastic half of football in the second half."
The victory keeps the Broncos in the hunt for the Southern Division crown, just one game back in the loss column behind unbeaten Winston-Salem State, which survived St. Augustine's 35-28 on Saturday.
Fayetteville State started its recovery under the direction of freshman Chauncey Concepcion
(Charlotte, N.C.) who made his first collegiate start. Concepcion directed a 15-play, 62-yard drive that took 7 minutes, 39 seconds, and was capped by Bailey's first score, a 2-yard plunge to make it 14-7 with 8:34 left in the first half.
The offense then got some help from an attacking Broncos' defense, which allowed just 34 yards of offense after Virginia State's opening scoring drive for the remainder of the first half. Bryce Williams
(Jr., S. Petersburg, Fla.) picked off a tipped pass, setting up Fayetteville State deep in Trojans' territory. Three plays later, Bailey scored on a 15-yard rush around the right end to knot the game at 14 with 3:40 left.
On the ensuing drive, Virginia State quarterback Jarred Battle fumbled while trying to elude the Broncos' rush. Marcus Witherspoon picked up the fumble and returned it 27 yards to the Trojans' 7-yard line. Bailey took over from there, grinding out 7 tough yards and dragging the pile before falling into the end zone for his third score and a 21-14 Broncos lead.
The Broncos defense really took off after the half, effectively putting the game away. Less than 5 minutes into the third quarter, preseason All-American Andre Lyles (Sr., Ahoskie, N.C.) scooped up a fumble by Battle and returned it 48 yards to put Fayetteville State ahead by two scores for the first time this season, 28-14.
"It was just being in the right place at the right time," Lyles said of the play. "Dennis (Rorie) made a good tackle, stripped the ball out and I just picked it up. We work on it every day - picking, scooping and scoring."
The floodgates were wide open after that. With the Broncos stifling the Trojans' offense and pressuring Battle into rushed throws - Battle came into the game completing 54 percent of his passes, but misfired on 10 of his first 12 attempts Saturday - Joshua Scales (So., Pinehurst, N.C.) picked off another pass and returned it to the VSU 24. Four plays later - all of them running plays by Anthony Williams (Jr., Clayton, N.C.) -- the burly back scored on a 3-yard run to make it 35-14 with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter.
It only got worse for the Trojans (3-3, 2-2). Fayetteville State reshman Chris Hairston (Jacksonville, N.C.) raced up the middle virtually untouched for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 42-14 early in the fourth period, and then star linebacker Marcos Esquivel (Sr., Kearney, Ariz.) reached out with one hand and snatched an interception, returning it 49 yards down the right sideline for yet another score for a 49-14 lead with 7:14 to go.
It was a brilliant performance all around for the Broncos' defense, which allowed a season-low 194 total yards in the comeback win over St. Augustine's. Against Virginia State, the Broncos forced six turnovers and three times in the first half stalled Trojans' drives that began in Fayetteville State territory - making big plays throughout and giving the offense an opportunity to complete another rally.
"Not saying it's a good thing, but past games we've gone down 14 points, just like the last home game," said Lyles who finished with a team-high eight tackles, including one tackle for loss. "I guess it makes us play better. I know we're tired of playing from behind, but I guess it gives us that extra motor. It's like `OK, it's time to play defense.'"
Concepcion had an efficient game in his first start, hitting on 10 of 16 passes for 49 yards and no interceptions. He added 48 yards rushing, keeping the Broncos' initial scoring drive going by picking up two first downs on the ground.
Hairston led Fayetteville State with 84 yards rushing on 12 carries while Williams rushed 13 times for 55 yards and Bailey added 44. The Broncos ran a season-high 49 running plays for 248 yards, the most they've run for this season in a single game.
Battle finished 19-for-36 for 170 yards and one touchdown and three interceptions, with many of those yards coming in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand for Fayetteville State. Tyler Wilson had 11 carries for 75 yards and a score.
Fayetteville State hosts rival Shaw for Homecoming at 2 p.m. on Saturday.