Richard Cue threw for a career-high 417 yards (460 yards of total offense) and four touchdowns as South Carolina State defeated Howard 34-22 Saturday at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium at Willie Jeffries Field, before a crowd of 19,187.
Cue broke the school's single-season passing yard mark of 387 yards previously held by Brett Young (2004—Morgan State) on a 97 yard catch and run to receiver Tyler McDonald. He also tied the single-game touchdown passing record, currently held by Derrick Wiley, Malcom Long, and Reese McCampbell. He was particularly efficient operating the offense, connecting on 65% of his passes and throwing touchdown passes to four different receivers.
"I knew he was putting up some pretty good yardage, Pough said. When he hit that long ball then it was pretty obvious that he had a pretty good day."
The Bulldog offense amassed 546 yards total, scoring on drives in three of the four quarters. Running back Jalen "Scoot" Simmons led the Bulldog rushing attack with 70 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, while the receiving corps was led by McDonald who had five grabs for 170 yards and a score.
Not to be outdone, the defense, led by Alex Glover and Cortney Ingram, limited the Bison to just 136 yards passing and constantly harassed quarterback Greg McGhee. Glover finished the day with eight total tackles (four for losses), three sacks, and a quarterback hurry, while Ingram tallied 13 total tackles (one for loss).
"We wanted to come out and dominate, Glover said. It was homecoming and we wanted to come out and play well for our fans."
On the Bulldogs first possession, Cue engineered a seven play, 63 yard drive, culminated by a TD pass to tight end Dwight Brannon to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 11:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Howard responded with a scoring drive of their own, going 65 yards in six plays capped with a 40 yard field goal from John Fleck to cut the Bulldogs lead to 7-3 with 9:43 remaining in the first.
Following a three and out by the Bulldogs, Howard's Phillip Forestant recorded the Bison FCS leading 10thblocked kick of the season when he charged through the middle and got his hands on a Nick Belcher punt. The ball was recovered by Myles Williams at the Howard 26 yard line.
Six plays later, Terrance Leffall rumbled into the endzone from five yards out to give Howard their first lead of the game at 10-7 with 5:41 remaining in the first.
In the second quarter, SCSU scored 21 unanswered points, getting scores on a 40 yard strike from Cue to Lennel "Superman" Elmore, a 20 yard scamper from Simmons, and a 20 yard pass from Cue to Caleb Davis to give the Bulldogs a commanding 27-10 lead heading into the lockerroom.
On their second drive of the second half, Howard would cut into the Bulldog lead, engineering a 14 play, 84 yard drive, highlighted by two critical fourth down conversions. Leffall capped the drive with his second touchdown of the game, this one from one yard out, to trim the Bulldog lead to 27-16 with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs then sent fans heading for the exits with 10:36 remaining in the game. Two plays after a goal line stand where the Bulldog defense stopped Howard from scoring on four consecutive plays, Cue hit McDonald on a short out route to the sideline. The receiver was able to make a defender miss and race untouched for the record breaking touchdown.
With the win, SCSU improves to 4-5 overall (3-3 MEAC), but more importantly, keeps alive the chances of head coach Buddy Pough achieving his 11th straight winning season.
"It's been mentioned a time or two in our circles (staving off losing season), Pough said. That win last week was the one that gave us the possibility to get back now. The best thing about this is that we get a week off to try and heal for the last two games of the year."
With the loss, the Bison dip to 5-3 overall (4-2 MEAC), all but ending their chances of winning the conference crown this season.
"Our goal was to come in and win the MEAC, head coach Gary Harrell said. Anything short of that is considered a failure. So we're 4-2 (in the conference) now, we'll go back and try to find a way to win these last three and see what happens."
South Carolina State will have a bye week next week, before heading to Greensboro, NC to entertain North Carolina A&T State on November 10.