By John Bombatch
WILBERFORCE — The rash of poor decisions and penalties in Saturday’s football game has left Central State University football coach Cedric Pearl scratching his head in frustration.
One of those penalties cost the Marauders the lead in their homecoming college football game with Miles (Ala.) College and Central State fell into a freefall the rest of the way in a 34-9 loss.
When Miles’ placekicker Nick Christensen missed a field goal try from the CSU 39-yard line as time expired in the first half, the Marauders’ Clim Robbins caught the short field goal try in his own end zone and returned the ball down the left sideline 107 yards for a touchdown.
Robbins bobbed and weaved, and pointed out a few blocking assignments along the way as he cut through the Miles defenders like butter for the go-ahead score.
As the Marauder players were celebrated in the end zone, McPherson Stadium was rockin’!
The tide had turned and Central State had the lead 15-7 and was set to send its placekicker — John Adams — out to kick the extra point. But Adams never left the sideline, and Central State had very little time to celebrate.
Robbins’ scoring play had been nullified by a penalty.
A potential 16-10 lead before the break, wound up being taken off the board with one block in the back. Central State never regained the momentum, and Miles College dominated the second half for a lopsided Golden Bears win.
Afterward, Pearl sat outside his office answering questions, with his head in his hands, looking down at the tiled floor.
“Twelve penalties. The first drive of the game (for Miles), we had like 20 yards in penalties,” Pearl said, in reference to four defensive offsides penalties called against CSU on Miles’ opening scoring drive. “Penalties are the most disappointing thing for me. I just can’t understand that, why we’re making those mental mistakes like that, they just continue to hurt us every week. It’s getting like a broken record.
“And the turnovers! We throw the ball into areas where we don’t even talk about throwing to, trying to do things that we can’t do. … We’ve just got to become a more disciplined football team.”Three Central State passes were intercepted in the second half, and those picks led to 17 Golden Bears points.
Miles was able to run at will in the second half as well, as the Golden Bears running game appeared to wear down the Marauders. Miles runners combined for 288 net rushing yards on 45 carries.
Jamarcus Nance led the way with three TD runs and 90 yards gained on 14 carries.
“We knew coming into the game that their strength was their offensive line, and they showed that in the second half,” Pearl said.
Pearl did credit the Marauders’ running game for a solid outing (36 combined carries for 171 yards), but said once the team got behind, they had to go more to a passing game. He liked Robbins’ play and said the junior from West Orlando, Fla. was a strength for his team against Miles.
“Clim is an outstanding player for us, no. 3. There’s always some positives to take away from a game. I thought our secondary played well, too. … but those offsides penalties. They really hurt us,” he said.
Central State heads to Jackson, Tenn. on Saturday to play Lane College. Lane defeated winless Benedict College on the last week, 23-19. Lane is 2-4 overall, 0-2 in the SIAC West. They currently share last place in the division with the Marauders, who have the same overall and divisional record.
Lane is the first road game of three straight for Central State. They face Stillman, Oct. 24 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., then Tuskegee (Ala.) on Oct. 31, before returning home for their final game of the season, Nov. 7 against Concordia (Ala.).