Saturday, April 14, 2007
ORANGEBURG, SC – South Carolina State closed out spring football drills Saturday with its annual Garnet and Blue game with the offense pitted against the defense, which earned points using a special scoring system. And, despite a stellar effort by the defense, the offense parlayed the play of senior quarterback Cleveland McCoy into a 27-18 triumph.
While the offense scored in the conventional way, the defense was awarded one point when it limited the offense to a three-and-out at the start of a series, two points for a safety, three points for creating a turnover or blocking a field goal attempt, and seven points for scoring a touchdown.
McCoy, who will be a third-year starter next season, completed 17 of 28 attempts for 238 yards and three scores with one interception. The Hollywood, SC native had touchdown passes to three different receivers.
The All-MEAC first-team quarterback in 2005 culminated an 80-yard, 11-play drive with a six-yard scoring toss to tight end Darris Jackson late in the second quarter to get the offense on the scoreboard after the defense had built a 5-0 lead. Stephen Grantham’s kick was off the mark, leaving the offense ahead 6-5 with 2:53 left in the half.
McCoy threw his only interception of the game on the offense’s final possession of the half when he was picked off by linebacker LaTavis Henderson, giving the defense a 10-7 advantage at the break.
He gave the offense a 13-12 lead with under 30 seconds left in the third when he hooked up with Spencer Miller, also a tight end, from 27 yards out. Grantham added the PAT.
McCoy directed his third scoring drive of the game late in the final period, when he connected with wide receiver Terrance Smith for a 54-yard run and catch, putting the offense ahead 20-16 after the successful extra point.
After the defense had closed the gap to 20-18, backup quarterback Bryan Hardy, who was 6 of 15 for 46 yards on the day, connected with Philip Morris for a 24-yard score with 1:55 left and a 27-18 final after Grantham’s extra point.
SC State head coach Buddy Pough, who is beginning his sixth season at his alma mater, said he was reasonably pleased with his team’s progress this spring, but quickly added that there was still a lot of work to be done as the Bulldogs face their most challenging season ever.
The 2007 campaign will mark the Centennial year of football for SC State, which will also meet a major school for the first time, traveling to the Air Force Academy in the season opener Sept. 1 and to intrastate rival South Carolina Sept. 15.
“I guess your should be reasonably pleased,” Pough said “anytime you get through spring drills with all of your installations and some valuable experience for your players.
“But 2007 will be a very challenging year for us,” he continued, “as we face the USCs (South Carolina) and Air Forces of the world. But, I’d like to think that we have a chance to do something special this year. I have been impressed with the hard work of our young men and the passion they have demonstrated this spring.”
Pough also lauded the performance of McCoy and expressed his pleasure with new defensive coordinator John Hendrick, former head coach at Benedict.
“Cleve’s a fifth-year senior,” Pough said, “who continues to improve. He had a nice game today (Saturday) and I hope he can build on this performance, work hard in the off season and have a big year at quarterback for us this fall.
“I’d also like to comment about our defense and the job John Hendrick is doing. The players have reacted well to John, and really he has been a breath of fresh air. I’m excited about the passion he has brought to our team.”
The Bulldogs will be looking to replace 15 seniors, 12 of whom were starters on last season’s 7-4 team.