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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –Stefon McCray rushed for a career-high 192 yards and two touchdowns and Khadarel Hodge caught a career-high 158 yards and a touchdown as the Prairie View A&M University football team pulled away from Alabama A&M 41-20 Saturday night at Louis Crews Stadium.pvam logo2011

The Panthers (2-1 overall, 2-0 SWAC) gained a season-high 543 yards total offense in posting 2016 season bests in rushing yards (281), passing yards (262) and points (41) in winning their eight consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference game dating to last season.

“The running game is the staple of our offense,” PVAMU head coach Willie Simmons said. “If we can get the ground game going, it opens up the offense so much more. We challenged the offensive line and the running backs this week in practice to get the ground game going. They accepted the challenge and we had a pretty good night running the football.”

The defense recorded a season-high eight sacks and forced two takeaways as the Bulldogs were shutout in the decisive fourth quarter.

“We challenged the defense this week to play the same style we had been early on, but eliminate allowing big plays. I thought they accepted that challenge. They did a great job of keeping things in front of them. As long as we’re keeping everything in front of us, our defense is good enough on all three levels (defensive line, linebackers, secondary) to hold our opponents and eliminate yards and points.”

Hodge, who had a career-high eight receptions,  got Prairie View A&M on the board in the first quarter on a 56-yard scoring pass from Jalen Morton, who had replaced an injured Trey Green, to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

Perhaps the most important stat of the night for Prairie View A&M was the one-for-one line on fourth-down conversions. On fourth-and-three from the AAMU 48 on the first drive of the night, Green completed a four-yard pass to Jovante Ham for a first down. Hodge scored four plays later.

“When you trust your defense, it’s a lot easier to make those calls,” Simmons said of the decision to go for it on fourth down. “In short-yardage situations, you challenge the offensive line to come off the ball. It we get it, we get it. If not, the defense is good enough to hold them near the 50-yard line. We wanted to make a statement early to let our guys know that we’re coming here to win the game, playing to win as opposed to playing not to lose.”

After Alabama A&M (1-2, 1-1) tied the score at 7-7, Prairie View A&M went back in front on  a 13-yard scoring pass from Green to Demarquo Lastrappe for 14-7 lead on the third play of the second quarter.

Leading 14-10, the Panthers went big bang theory again as Joshua Simmons caught a 50-yard scoring pass from Green as PVAMU led 21-10 at halftime.

McCray rushed for the first of his two scores in the third quarter. His 10-yard scoring run was sandwiched around a pair of Alabama A&M scores as the Panthers took a 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

Prairie View A&M put the game away in the final 15. Caleb Broach, who rushed six times for 52 yards all in the fourth quarter, scored from three yards out to extend the Panther lead to 34-20 with 8:32 to play in the game.

McCray delivered the final blow with under two minutes to play, as his 17th carry of the evening, a 61-yard scoring run, provided the final margin.

Prairie View A&M plays at Mississippi Valley State Saturday at 4 p.m.


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