Redshirt junior quarterback Lamar Raynard threw 18-of-31-1 for 298 yards and two touchdowns to lead the top-ranked Aggies of North Carolina A&T State to a 21-7 victory over South Carolina State Saturday (Sept. 30th) at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium/Willie Jeffries Field.
"It was a very tough loss. North Carolina A&T State handled us pretty good," said head coach Buddy Pough. "I want to take my hats off to them, their team is about the best I've seen in this league in a while."
Redshirt sophomore Dewann Ford finished 13-of-30 for 197-yards one touchdown and an interception on the day. Ford also led the way rushing with 13 carries for 52 yards in the loss.
The Aggies got on the board first with a 36-yard field goal from Noel Ruiz at the 12:20 mark in the second quarter. Raynard found Malik Wilson in the endzone for a 14-yard toss to move ahead 9-0. The extra point attempt was no good.
Ruiz connected on his second field goal of the day nailing a 41-yarder to give the Aggies a 12-0 lead to close out the first-half with 00:59 seconds remaining. Raynard picked up where he left off in the first half throwing 71-yard bomb to Xavier Griffin with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter to move ahead 18-0.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board with a 33-yard pass from Ford to redshirt senior Trey Samuel to pull within score 18-7 at the 12:06 mark early in the fourth quarter. Ruiz sealed the deal on a costly turnover on a 27-yard field goal with 3:59 remaining in the game to seal the victory.
Pough noted, "We made to many mistakes and had too many turnovers. We showed some positive signs, created some opportunities, but didn't take advantage of them. We have six game left and we will be fighting hard the rest of the way."
All-American redshirt senior linebacker Darius Leonard finished with a game-high 10 tackles (8 solo), while linebacker Dayshawn Taylor, defensive backs Jason Baxter and Kendric Gathers all recorded seven on the day.
Redshirt freshman punter Cliff Benjamin, Jr. had a solid day punting with five punts for 198-yards (39.6 yards per punt) and one touchback. Xzavier Burson finished with five kick returns for 84-yards.
South Carolina State returns to action on Friday (Oct. 6th) at home when they host the visiting Bears of Morgan State in a pivotal Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference showdown on ESPNU. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. (EST).