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WILBERFORCE, Ohio – The Central State Marauders gave their fans something to cheer about early and often in Saturday’s 27-10 win over the Lane College Dragons on Homecoming weekend.

CSU struck on the first play of the game when Lavon Meeks hit running back Terraris Saffold for a 70 yard touchdown pass down the sidelines. For Saffold, the 70 yard score was the first time he had touched the ball since joining the team in June.central state marauder2014

“We had seen something in the defense and were able to catch the defense by surprise,” CSU head coach Cedric Pearl said. “I credit our players for their perfect execution. That play energized the entire stadium and helped set the tone early.”

After an unsuccessful first three plays on offense, Lane mishandled the snap on fourth down and gave CSU excellent field position at the 14 yard line. CSU capitalized on the next play with Meeks using his legs to find the end zone. At the 13:01 mark of the first quarter, the Marauder offense had run just two plays and had 14 points up on the board.

The Dragons were able to regroup and put together a 45-yard touchdown drive capped off with a Jamion Dunning touchdown reception from 7 yards out at the 8:53 mark.

Neither team managed to score in the second stanza as the defenses held serve. At halftime, CSU maintained a 14-7 lead.

The Marauders received a significant lift in the second half when All-Conference safety Nehemiah Coward partially blocked a punt, rewarding the Marauders with great field position at the LC 39 yard line. On the next play, Meeks scrambled for 34 yards. 3 plays later, the quarterback flexed his muscles in celebration after breaking the plain to score his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon. After a failed extra point, the Marauders led 20-7 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.

Down by 13, the Dragons marched down to the CSU 27 yard line. Electing to kick a 44 yard field goal, Lane’s kick fell short in the Wilberforce wind and into the hand of Coward who ran the kick back 109 yards for the score and a 27-7 lead.
“Every week, I try to find ways to get my hands on the ball to help our team win,” Coward said. “I try to use my speed and just make a play in any way I can. When I caught the ball off the missed field goal, I had confidence in myself and my blockers that we could take it all the way back for the score and we did it.”

With his team in control, Coach Pearl put the ball into the hands of De’Michael Jackson to help slowdown the pace and run down the clock. Quiet for most of the afternoon, the senior carried 13 times in the final 15 minutes for 61 yards to help close out the victory.

With the win, the Marauders improve to 1-6 on the season with a 1-4 SIAC record and 1-2 divisional record. Meeks finished the game with 102 yards through the air and 55 yards on the ground. Jackson ran for 70 yards and caught two passes for 22 yards. Defensively, linebacker Deonate Gary had a game-high 10 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 pass break up. John Franklin had his best game as a Marauder, totaling 3 sacks on the afternoon. In addition to his special teams play, Coward had 8 tackles and 1 pass break up. First year punter Isaiah Smith was also crucial to the victory averaging a solid 45.4 yards per punt.

The Marauders held SIAC leading rusher Marcus Holliday to just 32 yards. LC’s Omari Hampton was a bright spot for the Dragons with game-high 8 catches for 60 yards. Defensive lineman Whitney Richardson added to his SIAC leading sack total with 2 on the afternoon. He also led the Dragons with 9.5 tackles.

With a Homecoming victory secured in the books, the Marauders will pack up their bags and travel to Fort Valley, Georgia next weekend to take on Fort Valley State. The Wildcats are 1-6 overall with a 1-2 record in SIAC play.

~ Central State Sports Information

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