Greene County News
WILBERFORCE — In Central State University’s final football game of 2016, the Marauders scored a season-high 34 points Saturday at McPherson Stadium, but they were unable to keep up with the Bearcats of Southwest Baptist, who put up 54 points on Senior Day.
Entering the day ranked no. 22 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II coaches poll and no. 24 in the D2Football.com poll, the Bearcats struck first with a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that lasted just 1 minute and 34 seconds capped off by a 2-yard run from running back Bubba Jenkins. The Marauder offense answered with a 75-yard scoring drive sparked by a 44-yard run by junior Darian Nelson. Quarterback Lavon Meeks crossed the end zone line to even the score, 7-7, at the 8:58 mark of the first quarter.
Southwest Baptist quickly regained momentum and seized control of the game with touchdowns on their next three possessions of the first quarter to take a 27-7 lead.
After a 40-yard punt return by Scottie Wilson gave SBU great field position at the Central State 20-yard line, quarterback T.J. Edwards increased the lead on the next play with a 20-yard strike to receiver Kendrick Payne.
CSU managed to cut the deficit to 34-13 right before halftime with an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Nelson had carries of 10 and 16 yards while senior De’Michael Jackson broke through the defense for a 39-yard run. Jackson finished the drive by taking in a short pass from Meeks for the score.
Receiving the ball to start the second half, CSU quickly pulled within two scores when Meeks burned the Bearcat defense with his legs for a 63-yard touchdown run. SBU answered with 4:59 to go in the third quarter when Edwards found receiver Cassian Foreman down the field for a 48-yard gain and Jenkins scored from 5 yards out to put the Bearcats up, 40-20.
The Marauders refused to go away quietly. Meeks led CSU on another trip to the end zone. He found a streaking Marquis Wells for a 42-yard gain through the air and Jackson finished the drive with an 11-yard run to narrow the gap, 40-27, with 9:47 left to play.
The Bearcats put the game away for good as Edwards hooked up with Payne through the air again for a 61-yard touchdown and 40-yard touchdown to balloon the lead to 54-27 with 3:55 remaining. CSU added a late touchdown when Meeks found Wells in the end zone from 4 yards out with 1:05 to go, to make the score 54-34. After an onside kick, the Marauders drove the ball down to the 4-yard line, but SBU recovered a fumble at the goal line. The Bearcats ran out the remaining seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
Saturday’s high scoring contest featured a combined 1,072 yards of offense.
Edwards completed 21 of 34 passes for 345 yards and five touchdowns. Payne had 12 receptions for a game-high 196 yards and three scores. Running back Bubba Jenkins ran for 183 yards and found the end zone three times. Defensively, SBU combined for five sacks. Shaun Hutchinson led the team with 11 tackles as SBU finished the regular season with a program-best 9-1 overall record.
The Marauders finished with a season-best 550 yards of total offense. Meeks picked up a team-high 179 yards on the ground and another 163 yards through the air. Jackson ran for 120 yards and two scores. Nelson finished the day with 88 rushing yards and 29 receiving yards. In his final game as a Marauder, senior linebacker Deonate Gary finished with a career-best 17 tackles.
With the loss, the Marauders finished the 2016 season with a 1-9 record.