The South Carolina State offense racked up a game-high 476 yards with 232 yards rushing and 244 passing as the Bulldogs dominated the Eagles, 44-3, Thursday at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
SC State improves to 5-2 overall, 3-0 in the MEAC, while NC Central falls to 3-3 overall, 1-1 in the league.
"We needed a big win, we didn't need another nail biter," said SC State head coach Buddy Pough. "We were glad to get off to a quick start but we are still looking to get better."
Pough stated, "Our energy level and focus were good and we needed a break (easy game) because we played in so many close games. I am pretty happy and pleased with where we are after 7 games."
The Bulldog defense totally dominated from start to finish, limiting the Eagles offense to -11 yards rushing and 105 yards total offense. The SC State offense converted a season-high 26 first downs to NCCU 3 in the victory.
SC State jumped out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter on a 36-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterbackRichard Cue to junior wide receiver Dennis Rowe. Senior kicker/punter Nick Belcher kicked a 29-yard field goal at the 6:18 mark to give the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead. True freshman walk-on running back Xavier Quick scored his first career touchdown on a 2-yard punch with 1:28 left in the first.
Belcher kicked a 26-yarder for his second field goal of the night to extend the Bulldogs lead to 20-0 early in the second quarter. Redshirt freshman and Kentucky transfer Justin Taylor scored on a 9-yard scamper to push the lead 27-0.
NCCU finally got on the board with senior kicker Oleg Parent nailing a 46-yard field goal with 3:10 left in the half to put the Eagles in the scoring column. Quick found the end zone once again on a 2-yard run with 0:45 seconds remaining to close out the first-half. SC State led a commanding 34-3 over NC Central during halftime.
In the second-half the Bulldogs kept pounding away with Belcher kicking his third field goal of the night connecting on a 40-yarder at the 8:29 mark in the third quarter. Redshirt sophomore Dondre Freeman-Lewis's 1-yard run closed out the scoring drive and sealed the 44-3 victory for SC State.
Taylor led the rushing attack for SC State with 17 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, while junior Charles Brown finished with 11 rushes for 70 yards. Freeman-Lewis added 14 rushes for 57 yards and a score, while Quick chipped in 9 carries for 27 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior Tyler McDonald came two catches shy of breaking the All-Time Career Reception record. He entered tonight's contests needing only 12 receptions to break the record, while finishing with 10 catches for 70 yards.
"We were doing some things to get him (McDonald) the ball and the record," said Pough. "After a few drops we decided to get him out the game before he gets hurt. He will have plenty of opportunities to break the record."
Cue had a phenomenal night throwing the football going 18-of-27 for 191 yards and one touchdown. Belcher also had an outstanding day punting the ball averaging 42.0 yards per punt with four punts for 168 yards.
Junior defensive end Alex Glover spearheaded the defense with 5 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss, while sophomore linebacker Tevin Richard led the team with a team-high 6 solo tackles.
SC State will have a break in action before returning to the field on Oct. 26, to take on the defending Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC) Champion the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. The Bulldogs are idle next week.
"We welcome the break…It gives us a little time off which really need and it also gives us more time to prepare for Bethune-Cookman in two weeks."