WILBERFORCE — Central State Marauders nearly pulled the upset over the defeneding SIAC champion Fort Valley State. Turnovers proved to be costly as CSU eventually faltered, 24-19, to FVSU Oct. 21.
Darian Nelson returned the opening kick to the FVSU 49-yard line. With reigning SIAC Offensive Player of the Week Trent Mays ruled out of Saturday’s game, senior Lavon Meeks started under center for the Marauders. With Meeks at the helm, CSU ran a series of successful running plays resulting in a touchdown as Terraris Saffold ran it in from 8-yards out. CSU failed to convert the extra point and led 6-0 at the 11:44 mark of the first quarter.
FVSU answered with a Juan Serna field goal on their next possession. CSU marched down the field late in the first half and had just 5 yards to go for anouther touchdown. FVSU denied CSU of adding any points as Meeks was stripped of the ball by Zacka Anderson and recovered by Kevis Jones.
The score remained 6-3 until the late stages of the second quarter. With FVSU forced to punt deep in their own territory, a high snap went over Serna’s head. The punter manager to recover the ball and get his kick away. The ball hit off a CSU player and FVSU recovered it at their own 32-yard line, giving the offensive new line. The Wildcats took full advantage of the fumble recovered by manufacturing an 8-play, 67-yard drive capped off by a Chauncey Jackson touchdown run from 5 yards out. Serna converted the point after and the Wildcats led 10-3 with 2:04 remaining in the first half.
The Marauders gave themselves a chance after an 85-yard drive ended with a Meeks pass to Renon Lorenzo from 18 yards out. CSU was unsuccessful in a two-point attempt and trailed 24-19 with 56 seconds left.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Fort Valley State and the Wildcats successfully ran out the remainder of the game.
Falling to 1-7 and 0-4 in conference play, CSU will play their final two games of the regular season on the road. The Marauders will play at Tuskegee University next Saturday followed by a Nov. 5 matchup at Lane College.
Head Football Coach Cedric Pearl said, “A tough loss. That really is all I can say regarding today’s result. We were on the right track today but the turnovers prohibited any chance of us coming out on top. With Trent (Mays) out and Lavon playing receiver up to this point, our game plan was to run the ball effectively and throw the ball when we needed to. We had success moving the ball but the turnovers prevented us from putting up more points.”
Senior Lawon Meeks said, “Our defense played well against one of the top offenses in our conference. We have a lot of young players on that side of the ball and I thought they did a good job of playing together today. My goal today was to just execute the game plan that the coaches put in place. We had to do a better job of protecting the ball and fell short in that area of the game.”
Central State honored six graduating football players prior to Saturday’s kickoff. FVSU entered Saturday’s game ranked as the No. 1 offensive in the SIAC. CSU outgained FVSU, 378-299, Oct. 28. CSU holds a 6-4 overall record in the all-time series against FVSU.
Story courtesy of Central State University.