The South Carolina State offense, which was stymied for one half by the Bulldog defense, rallied from a 16-6 halftime deficit for a 26-25 victory over the defense in the team's annual Garnet and Blue spring game Saturday at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
A crowd of just over 600 was on hand for the contest, which traditionally culminates spring drills for Coach Buddy Pough's team. This season, however, SC State has a 15th session it will conduct Sunday at 3:30 p.m., following a review of the tape from Saturday's contest.
In Saturday's game, the offense scored in the conventional way while the defense scored using a special points system which awarded the defense 2 points for creating a 3-and-out, 2 points for a safety, and 1 point for the overall stop of a drive. Interceptions or fumble returns for a score earned the conventional six points, while any extra point after a defensive score was given to the defense
Quarterbacks Richard Cue, a junior, and redshirt sophomore Tedarrius Wiley directed the SC State offense. Wiley's older brother Derrick Wiley, who started last season only to give way to Cue after sustaining a season-ending injury against Norfolk State is still rehabbing and did not play, however, he is expected to be in the hunt for quarterbacking duties this fall.
Cue completed nine of 25 pass attempts for 101 yards and a nine-yard scoring toss to Caleb Davis. The Florence native also rushed eight times for 56 yards and added a 19-yard scoring run. He also suffered two interceptions, one of which Darius Drummond returned 44 yards for a touchdown.
Tedarrius Wiley completed five of 10 attempts for 60 yards. Like Cue, he was picked off twice in the contest. Wiley also had three rushes for 64 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run early in fourth quarter which put the offense ahead 26-16. Cue's scoring run a little over a minute earlier had given the offense its first lead, 19-17.
Caleb Davis was the top receiver for the Bulldogs with six catches for 49 yards and a score, while sophomore Jalen Simmons was the workhorse in the backfield with 16 carries for 57 yards.
In addition to the scores directed by Cue and Wiley, the SC State offense also got a 37-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Will Roper.
Linebacker Terrell Fitts had seven tackles, five unassisted to lead the SC State defense, which roared out to a 16-0 lead following Drummond's interception return for a score late in the opening quarter before settling for a 16-6 advantage at the half.
Julius Pendergrass, who moved to defense from offense this spring, had five solo tackles, while Drummond had four tackles -- three unassisted -- the interception return and one pass breakup. Georgia transfer Jakahr Hamilton also had five tackles, three of them solos.
The Bulldog defense forced three fumbles and snared as many interceptions in the game. In addition to Drummond, redshirt freshman defensive lineman James Robinson and junior cornerback Mason Harris added picks in the game.
Pough, after the contest, called it a typical spring game with some good performances and some not so good performances.
"We had some good, some bad and some ugly, a typical spring game," said Pough. "Our offense was really ugly earlier, but I was happy to see us rebound in the second half. The defense really bottled the offense up in the first half but our quarterbacks played better and the team overall performed better in the second half.
"Cue appears to be our guy at quarterback," Pough continued. "He's been the most dependable thus far, however Tedarrius showed that he could do some things and, of course, we get Derrick (Wiley) back this fall. It's obvious we have some issues. We had far too many turnovers and must do a better job in our overall execution.
"But we have seen some improvements. We have seemingly developed a better short-yardage game and identified some young players that appear to be able to help us become a better football team."
One area that the Bulldogs need to improve in is the kicking game, where four-year starter Blake Erickson, who handled both the placekicking and punting duties, exhausted his eligibility. Pough said Saturday's kicking game was pretty ordinary. The Bulldogs missed a field goal and an extra point in the contest.
The placekicking duties on Saturday were split between Roper, who transferred in last year from Arizona State and Nick Belcher, who missed all of last year due to academics. Belcher and redshirt freshman David Gammon shared the punting chores.