South Carolina State (2-4 overall, 1-2 MEAC) suffered its second conference loss of the season, dropping a tough 40-10 defeat to NC Central (3-2 overall, 2-0 MEAC) Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In their two previous appearances in the Circle City Classic, the Bulldogs defeated Jackson State, 34-33 (1993) and Tennessee State, 30-13 (2004). SC State is now 2-1 overall in the Classic with the loss to NCCU.
"This loss was an eye-opening experience for us, we just didn't play well at all," said SC State head coach Buddy Pough. "We had too many turnovers and NCCU was the better team today."
The score was tied 3-3 early in the second quarter, when senior running back Arthur Goforth (5-8, 171) pounded away on a 13-yard touchdown at the 10:30 mark. Junior linebacker Tazmon Foster's (5-9, 200) 27-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown put the Eagles ahead 17-3 with 8:28 left in the half.
The Bulldogs marched back to cut the lead, 17-10 on a 29-yard scamper by sophomore running backJulius Pendergrass (5-8, 170). Junior quarterback Jordan Reid's 4-yard punch with 0:38 seconds to go gave NCCU a 23-10 lead.
Red-shirt junior quarterback Richard Cue pass was intercepted by senior Malik Cromartie (5-9, 170) and returned 46 yards to the SCSU nine yard line with 0:31 seconds left before halftime. Reid's 9-yard toss to senior tight end Detwan Robinson (6-3, 256) closed out the half with NCCU leading 30-10.
In the second-half the Eagles kept soaring on a 40-yard touchdown run by red-shirt sophomore Andre Clark (5-10, 232) late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 37-10 with a 1:28 left. Sophomore kicker Oleg Parent (5-10, 155) sealed the victory for NCCU nailing a 23-yard field goal at the 13:36 mark in the fourth quarter.
NC Central would hold on to knock off SC State 40-10, defeating the Bulldogs for the first time since Nov. 1, 1975 (6-3). The Bulldogs defense was spearheaded by senior strong safety Cortney Ingram with seven tackles on the day.
Pough stated, "We have to do a better job of taking care of the football. It seems as though we struggled a bit on offense and we took a hit on defense losing some key players."
Pendergrass led SC State rushing attack with 84 yards and 16 carries, while Cue threw 13-of-23 for 112 yards and two interceptions.
South Carolina State returns action on next week when they travel to Dover, DE to take on the Hornets of Delaware State in a pivotal Mid-Eastern Athletic clashing. Kick-off is set for 2:30 p.m.