WILBERFORCE, Ohio – The Central State Marauders jumped out to an early lead and secured a 44-38 homecoming victory over North Carolina Pembroke on Saturday. With the win, CSU improves to 4-3 overall. UNCP drops to 1-4 on the season.
“It was an outstanding performance by our offense today,” said Central State coach Cedric Pearl. “The defense has been playing well all season and stepped up in some critical moments as the game unfolded. We are really proud that we could deliver a win on homecoming in front of a great crowd today.”
CSU scored on the first play of the game from the line of scrimmage as receiver Kevin Greenhow took a short pass from Trent Mays 70-yards for the score at the 14:39 mark of the first quarter. UNCP put together a 10-play, 47-yard drive resulting in a 27-yard field goal by Alex Alvarado. The Marauders extended their lead with a 9 play drive covering 79 yards. Running back Terraris Saffold scored from five yards out with 6:23 left in the first quarter.
North Carolina Pembroke found the end zone for the first time with 3:36 left in the first quarter as Josh Jones connected with TyShawn Carter for a 37-yard touchdown. The CSU passing game struck again as Mays found a streaking Greenhow down the middle of the field for a 55-yard touchdown play with 3:19 to play in the opening quarter. After a fumbled snap on a CSU punt attempt, UNCP took over possession on CSU’s 34-yard line. Josh Sheridan carried the ball three times to march the Braves down to the 10-yard line.
Josh Jones found an open Jalon Nixon for the 10-yard passing touchdown at the 11:19 mark of the second quarter. Devon Cunningham intercepted a UNCP pass, giving CSU excellent field position on the UNCP 29-yard line. After two big runs by Mays, Saffold capped of the drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 5:03 remaining in the first half.
UNCP continued to respond as the Braves marched down the field for another score as Joshua Dale passed to Corey West for a 10-yard touchdown with 54 seconds left in the quarter. (CSU 28-24). CSU managed to move the ball down to the UNCP 30-yard line. Kicker Trevor Teel hit a career-long 37-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
The second half picked up where the two teams left off in the first two quarters. After forcing the CSU offense into a three-and-out situation, UNCP started their first drive of the second half on the CSU 26-yard line. The drive ended with a Josh Sheridan six-yard touchdown run tie the game. Faced with fourth down and five yards to go, CSU faked a punt and direct snapped the ball to starting center Darius Thomas.
Thomas broke free for 27-yards to give CSU a first down on UNCP’s 18-yard line. Mays used his legs to pick up his third rushing touchdown of the year. A missed extra point left CSU up by six with 3:09 left in the third quarter. UNCP’s next drive accounted for 6:25 minutes in time of possession as the offensive covered 67-yards in 11 plays. McKinley Nelson gave UNCP its first lead of the game with a five-yard touchdown run to cap off the drive.
UNCP’s field goal attempt from 49-yards away fell short with CSU taking over on its own 32-yard line. Mays completed passes to Greenhow and Saffold on third down to keep the drive alive. A pass interference call on UNCP gave CSU at the seven-yard line. From there, Saffold ran in for his third score of the afternoon as CSU reclaimed the lead with 6:35 left to play.
Central State center Darius Thomas said the win felt good.
“A win like this really means everything,” Thomas said. “We feel like we are starting to come together on both sides of the ball. Coach did a great job of calling a play that caught the other team by surprise and I was able to execute on the fake punt. I really should have scored but I am thankful that it led to a touchdown. We all need to keep doing whatever it takes to win.”