WILBERFORCE — The Central State Marauders won their season finale 31-30 over rival Kentucky State on Saturday.
“We end the season on a high note and I am proud of our guys for showing that they can execute and win a big game,” CSU head coach Kevin Porter said.
In a game featuring Kentucky State’s top SIAC ranked running game and Central State’s top ranked passing attack, the historic rivalry game had six lead changes and three ties throughout the afternoon.
The Marauders opened the scoring after recovering a fumbled punt return at the KSU 32 yard line. Five plays later, Kaz Dina broke two tackles and bounced his run outside for the score at the 11:22 mark of the opening quarter.
KSU quickly responded with a touchdown on their next possession as Shaquan Oliver ran free for a 37-yard touchdown. Oliver scored again on KSU’s next drive to give his team a 14-7 advantage with 5:30 left in first quarter. CSU ended the first quarter scoring with a seven play, 75 yard drive. CSU quarterback connected with Micah Lowe twice on the drive with one play going for 18 yards and another covering 29 yards resulting in a touchdown.
KSU reclaimed the lead again early in the second quarter. KSU ran the ball nine straight times covering 68 yards into the endzone for the 21-14 lead with 8:43 remaining in the half. CSU bounced back again as Lowe return a low kick return for 63 yards down to the KSU 10-yard line. CSU scored on the next play as Twon Hines managed to stay in bounds to haul in a Kyles pass with 8:31 on the clock. CSU took the ball back on KSU’s next possession as Sam Sykes intercepted a pass to eventually set up a Marauder field goal. CSU marched 58 yards before settling for a 23-yard field goal from Jose Chaires to take the lead 24-21 at half.
KSU leaned heavily on its run game in the third quarter. The Thorobreds ran 19 plays to CSU’s three. KSU’s first possession of the half lasted over eight minutes and resulted in an Oliver touchdown to go up 28-24.
Pinned back inside of their own one-yard line after a punt from KSU’s Mason Molique, CSU gave up a safety and fell behind 30-24 with 13:51 left to play. The final score of the game materialized when Kyles found an open Kaz Dina for 32 yards. Later in the drive, Kyles ran it in himself with 5:34 to play.
Needing a defensive stop, CSU linebacker Chazz Hunter sacked KSU’s Jonathan Jerry to force fourth down. Jerry felt the pressure on the next play as defensive end Ezekiel Kennebrew applied the pressure and the quarterback threw the ball into the turf on fourth down.
CSU managed to run off all but six second left on the clock and KSU could not score on its final play of the game.
With two offenses with contrasting styles, CSU threw for 236 yards while KSU only threw the ball three times. KSU accumulated no passing yards but were effective on the ground with 298 rushing yards. CSU was a perfect 4-for-4 in redzone scoring.
Brandon Kyles passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown.
Chass Hunter’s 24 tackles is the most by any Marauder in a single-game in the last 10 seasons. Hunter entered the game with a total 28 tackles on the season. He also had two tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.
With the win, CSU is now 37-25-1 against KSU in the all-time series which dates back to 1947.
Saturday was CSU’s first home victory since the 2019 season.
“Today is a big win for the program but it is only the beginning of what we plan on building,” Porter said.
CSU ends the 2022 season with a 3-7 overall record and a 2-5 mark in SIAC play. KSU ends the year with a 4-6 record and 4-3 in the conference.