CSU Defense Puts Up Late Heroics as CSU Beats PC 21-13September 2, 2006
By CSU Sports Information
|Josh Mitchell Scored on a 59-yard Interception Return|
CLINTON, S.C. – CSU scored on the first two drives, and for the first time since the Nov. 5 game against Gardner-Webb last season, never trailed as they beat Presbyterian 21-13 on Saturday afternoon at Bailey Memorial Stadium.
Despite looking like an offensive battle early, it was a 59-yard interception return by Josh Mitchell that broke the game open, allowing CSU to start 1-0 for the first time since the 2001 season.
“We talk all the time about how one play can change the outcome of the game,” said CSU Head Coach Jay Mills, who picked up his first victory over PC. “Our coaches were tireless in preparing for this game and it is great to get this proverbial monkey off our back. In some ways it was ugly, in some ways it was pretty, but in all ways it was a victory.
A couple of Hail Mary passes at the end of the game fell short for PC as they fell to the Buccaneers for the second time in 14 meetings.
“I have been here for five years, and it feels great to finally come out on top,” said senior defensive end Brett Bowdren. “Our experience and conditioning helped us this week because we know we had to play through everything.”
“Everything,” meant enduring long, clock-eating drives by PC as they strung together drives of 17, 13, and 12 plays during the game.
“I am so proud of how we played in all three facets of this game,” said Mills. “Our defense bent, but never broke. I think this win speaks to the leadership and character of this team.
Senior QB Collin Drafts was a perfect 5-5 to start the game, with four of the five passes going to Maurice Price. Drafts would finish 14-22 with one interception, despite being knocked out of the game for two plays. Price was right on his average from last season with nine catches, managing 93 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, the linebacking corps led the way all day as pre-season conference defensive player of the year Jada Ross had 10 solo tackles and was in on four others. Along with Mitchell's 13 tackles, the duo combined for 27 tackles.
After a strong 28-yard return by Antoine Thomas to start the game, CSU put together a solid eight-play, 63-yard drive to take an early lead. Two long passes from Drafts to Price, and a long run by Kenny Harper, got the Bucs into scoring position. The drive was capped by a pounding run by Robert Adams and a dive by Drafts just 3:37 into the game.
The Buccaneer defense proved they were up to the task as well, holding PC to a three-and-out to start the game, giving the ball back to CSU at midfield. Head Coach Jay Mills showed that he wasn’t holding anything back after the pounding CSU took last year as they pulled out the reverse to Price for a long gain on the second possession of the game. Price would cap off the drive in spectacular fashion as he dived in the back of the end zone to bring in a 19-yard touchdown pass with 6:54 to go in the first quarter.
The Blue Hose offense responded thanks in large part to a 30-yard pass from Mitch Doolittle to Larry Thomas. PC got on the board just before the end of the first quarter on a one-yard run by Corey Fidler. The CSU lead would stay at eight as Carl Stevenson missed the extra point.
A 27-yard pass to Bryant Burch attempted to kick-start the offense one more time as the first-quarter came to an end. The heralded PC defense showed up at the start of the second quarter and forced the first CSU punt of the game.
CSU looked to get the ball back deep in PC territory on a fumbled option pitch by Doolittle, but the Blue Hose recovered and went on to complete a 17-yard pass to Justin Durant to get out of the hole. The Blue Hose offense managed a 17-play, 85-yard drive that took 8:26 including a converted fourth down to stay alive before Doolittle got to the end zone on a 10-yard scramble. The PAT by Bret DiTullio brought PC within one at 14-13 in favor of CSU with 5:24 to go in the game.
The second half became a defensive battle with both teams bending, but neither defense surrendering any more points. Up against one of the best defenses in the country, it was the CSU defense that changed the game as sophomore Okeba Rollinson laid a hit on S.J. Worrell, knocking the ball loose into the arms of Josh Mitchell, who ran it back 59 yards to put CSU up 21-13 with 2:08 to go in the game. Related Item: Box Score