WILBERFORCE — Playing in the final game of the 2018 season, the Central State University Marauders defeated the Lane College Dragons, 45-22, on Nov. 3 at McPherson Stadium.
With the victory, CSU finishes the season with a 5-5 overall mark and a 3-3 ledger in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play. LC falls to 3-6 on the season with a 2-4 record in the SIAC.
With the win, the Marauders tied the school’s best season record since the football program was reinstated in 2005. CSU also finished the season at 5-5 in 2007 and 2015.
CSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead thanks to a 94-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Christopher Lewis, a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by K’Jamus Sanders, and a 24-yard field goal by Trevor Teel.
Led by Terraris Saffold, CSU’s running game efficiently moved the ball while controlling the time of possession. Saffold finished the afternoon with a career-high 214 rushing yards along with one touchdown as the Marauders distanced itself from the Dragons in the second half.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Kailen Abrams finished with a team-high 13 tackles, one quarterback sack, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. The Marauders defense created a season-high five turnovers on three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and they also had a season-best five sacks for a net loss of 42 yards.
“I was part of the team that went 1-9 a year ago and we all know that it was time for change. Each week, we turned up the intensity. We stayed together and we look forward to taking the program to another level in 2019,” Abrams said. “As a defensive unit, I thought our defensive line did a tremendous job of generating pressure. The play of our guys up front have allowed for me to have a great year and allows our linebackers and corner backs to make more plays. I thought this year’s team did a great job of staying focused no matter what the outcome was. Heading into next year, our mindset is focused on delivering a championship.”
Coach Cedric Pearl wanted to make sure to credit his offensive linemen, and the role of his seniors, after Saturday’s win.
“… I have to personally name out the sensational play of guys like Darius Thomas, Jeremiah Hardge, James Davis, Darius Meadors, Robert Corbin, Darico Ellis, Genesis Hartley. These guys are crucial to our blocking schemes and have been consistent all year long,” Pearl said. “I also want to thank our seniors for their outstanding leadership and contributions. Rashaun Searles has an outstanding season on our defensive line. Isaiah Smith served an important role as our punter and was relentless as a tackler on special teams and in certain defensive packages. Trent Mays had a tremendous two-years at CSU as our quarterback. It’s great to see them depart the program with a win in their last game.”
CSU won three of its final four games of 2018 with the only loss coming to NCAA Division I – FCS opponent Robert Morris University by four points, 49-45, on Oct. 20.