Redshirt senior quarterback Richard Cue threw for a game-high 17-of-28 for 236 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a, 29-24, victory over rival N.C. A&T Saturday in the Atlanta Football Classic at the Georgia Dome.
SC State improves to 4-2 overall, 2-0 in the MEAC, while the Aggies fall to 3-1, 1-1 in the league. Cue was named the Most Valuable Player from SC State with his performance.
"First, I would like to thank the 100 Black Men of Atlanta for the opportunity to play in the game," said SC State head coach Buddy Pough. "I don't know if I would have felt the same way if we had lost but it was a great opportunity for our team".
"I thought we played hard the entire game. We didn't do some of the best things at times but there was no lack of effort," stated Pough. We knew they (N.C. A&T) was good against the run, so we knew we had to throw the ball to have a chance at winning the game."
Redshirt sophomore Dondre Lewis-Freeman led the rushing attack with 19 carries for 70 yards and a score. Senior Caleb Davis had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, while teammate Tyler McDonald moves on step closer to breaking the Career Receiving Yardage record with three catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
SC State jumped out to a 7-3 lead on a two yard run by Lewis-Freeman at the 14:53 mark in the second quarter. Redshirt senior running back Dominique Drake gave the Aggies the lead, 10-7, on a 14-yard scamper. Cue's 13-yard toss to Davis with 0:48 seconds remaining in the second push the Bulldogs ahead 14-10 to close out the first-half.
N.C. A&T would not be denied regaining the lead on a 13-yard run by senior running back Ricky Lewis with 6:06 remaining in the third. The Bulldog defense continue to dominate opponents in their territory recording their (defense) fourth straight safety in a row with a block punt by senior defensive back Darius Drummond.
Senior kicker Nick Belcher nailed a career long 49-yard field goal with 0:36 seconds remaining late in the third to give SC State a 19-17 advantage heading into the fourth. Cue connected with McDonald on a 65-yard bomb to push the lead to 26-17 at the 13:56 mark.
Belcher connected on his second field goal of the day on a 22-yarder to secure a, 29-17, lead over the Aggies. N.C. A&T quarterback Lewis Kindle connected with junior wide receiver Desmond Lawrence on a late drive leading to a 25-yard touchdown reception pulling the Aggies within four, 29-24.
Junior defensive end Andrew Carter made the game saving tackle, sacking Kindle for a loss of 10 yards with 1:20 remaining in regulation to seal the victory for the Bulldogs. Senior linebacker Joe Thomas and safety Kimario McFadden led the defense with 9 tackles each, while junior Justin Hughes added seven on the day.
SC State returns to action in less than five days when they battle NC Central on the road in Durham, NC on Thursday.
Pough stated, "Our kids (players) are very resilient and we expect them to be ready to play come Thursday against NCCU. After watching the tape we can see how soundly they beat us last year, so that should be inspiration enough for our team."
The game will be televised live on ESPNU with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.