UNCP Upends #24 Broncos In 2OT
FAYETTEVILLE – UNCP racked up more than 530 yards of total offense, including 353 on the ground, and used a 21-yard strike from Cory Smith to Jamal Williams in the second overtime period to upset 24th-ranked Fayetteville State in the inaugural Two Rivers Classic Saturday evening at FSU’s Luther “Nick” Jeralds Stadium.
Sophomore Travis Daniels accounted for a school record 229 all-purpose yards – 213 of which came on the ground – to pace the UNCP (1-0) offense, while Smith completed 16-of-24 pass attempts for 184 yards and two more scores. Quarterback Benjamin Williams threw for 235 yards and a trio of touchdowns on 16-of-28 passing to lead Fayetteville State.
“We preached to our guys all through the preseason that we were going to be in great shape and that we were going to wear on people, and I am proud of them because they had one more play in them than Fayetteville State did tonight,” said head coach Pete Shinnick. “I think our defense was caught off guard on a couple of things that they did tonight, but I think our offense has a lot more confidence this year and we were able to get it done on that side of the ball.”
UNCP never trailed in a game that, although uneventful in the first half, turned out to be anything but in the second stanza. The Braves used a Fayetteville State miscue in an opening quarter that produced just 46 yards of total offense to score their first points of the game on a 4-yard pass-and-catch from Smith to Josh Throckmorton. Williams hit Kendon Doe on a 25-yard pass down the far sideline to tie things back up just 1:47 into the second quarter, but UNCP answered on the ensuing possession when Smith engineered a 10-play, 69-yard drive that was culminated with a 3-yard plunge by Rashon Kennedy.
FSU needed just 19 seconds of the third quarter clock to put the tying points on the board, however, as Jeffery Brooks returned the second half kickoff 65 yards to the UNCP 30-yard line and Williams found Calvin Harris wide open on the first play from scrimmage moments later to knot the game up at 14 apiece. The Braves would retake the lead just less than six minutes later on a 3-yard touchdown run by Daniels, only to have Fayetteville State answer two minutes later on Harris’ 26-yard run to the left side.
UNCP used a stifling defense to pin the hosts at their own 3-yard line with 4:50 to play, but punter Austin Turner reeled off an 84-yard punt to pin the Braves at their own 11. Daniels took the game on his shoulders moments later when he took a handoff from Smith and broke a pair of tackles in the secondary before racing 89 yards for what appeared to be a momentum-swinging touchdown. FSU would not go away quietly, however, as Williams hit Barry Dunn on a 69-yard touchdown pass down the near sideline to tie the game at 28.
UNCP kicker Taylor Baskett, who missed a 20-yard field goal earlier in the game, gave UNCP its fifth lead of the contest on a 31-yard boot with 42 seconds left, but Fayetteville State drove 33 yards in 25 seconds to set up Turner for a 34-yarder that sent the game to overtime.
Both teams mustered just three points in overtime to send it to a second extra period. Smith’s strike to Williams on 3rd-and-6 from the 21 on the first possession of the final period would cap the scoring.
Fayetteville State began the next possession with Williams’ 13-yard scamper to the 12-yard line, but Anthony McDonald stuffed Calvin Harris for no gain on the next play and Joseph Groves and Morris McLaughlin combined to sac Williams on the ensuing snap for a 7-yard loss. Williams’ third-down pass to Bobby Wilder on third down fell short and, after scrambling on fourth down, Williams got stuffed again by Terrell Partlow 12 yards away from tying up the marathon contest once again.
UNCP will open up the home portion of its 2009 schedule on September 5 when it welcomes CIAA foe St. Paul’s to Pembroke for a 6 p.m. contest at Grace P. Johnson Stadium. The contest will mark the season opener for the Tigers who were forced to cancel their scheduled opener with West Virginia Wesleyan on Thursday for unspecified reasons.