It was not the start Central State University football coach E.J. Junior had envisioned.
The Marauders were out-gained 573-197, had nine penalties and had two touchdowns called back on penalties in a 42-9 loss to Benedict College in the Dayton Classic IX Saturday afternoon at McPherson Stadium.
“We had too many mistakes,” Junior said. “We’ve got to work to compete. We’ve got to work to get better.”
Michael Wilson led CSU with 147 yards on 11 carries, including the Marauders lone touchdown on a 27 yard scamper with 6:41 left in the game to cut the deficit to 35-9.
The bad omens began early for CSU.
Benedict converted a third-and-four from its own 24 to the Marauder 28. On the next play, Marcus Graham connected with Kendariss Brown for a 6-0 lead. The teams exchanged fumbles before a CSU punt was downed at the Marauder 31. Seven plays later, Benedict was on the board again.
CSU did get one nice break in the first half when Michael Wilson’s pass was tipped by receiver Zach Thomas and into the hands of Steven Heard to move the ball to the Benedict 17. The drive stalled and Dustin Bryan got the hosts on the board with a 36-yard field goal.
Aaron Wade looked to cut the lead to 14-10 when he returned a punt 65 yards for a score, but he was flagged for excessive celebration after thrusting his index finger in the air at the 15. Moved back to the 30, CSU had its second touchdown called back for holding after Wilson had broken into the end zone.
“The celebration penalty was foolish. It changed the momentum of the game,” Junior said. “Being down 13-0 is not a major thing. It is about getting back in the rhythm, but we are still learning what type of offense we are.”
Benedict held a 342-91 advantage in offense at the break behind a balanced attack (155 yard rushing, 187 passing) and the script didn’t change in the second half.
Benedict scored on its first possession of the second half, recorded its second blocked field goal of the game late in the third quarter, intercepted a Wilson pass and added four scores, including a 45-yard hook-up on a fourth-and-five play, to seal the win.
“We had too many breakdowns defensively,” Junior said. “We were not as prepared as I thought we were and that is on me. I know we have been working too hard to go backwards.”
CSU returns home Saturday to host Kentucky State at 1:30 p.m.