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ORANGEBURG, SC – South Carolina State finally got its offense rolling, much to the delight of the Bulldog faithful, however the biggest roar from the crowd in the 32-0 triumph over Savannah State came with just under five minutes left in the opening quarter when 55-year old Joe Thomas took a handoff from quarterback Adrian Kollock Jr. and picked up three yards during the team's second scoring drive.

Thomas, whose number was called by Bulldog head coach Pough, became the oldest person to play football in the NCAA Division I. He ended the contest with four carries for a minus 1 yard and was jubilantly carried off the field on the shoulders of several teammates.scsufbThomas 111916Thomas, Sr.

"I felt like a hero," said Thomas, a Blackville, SC native and one of 11 Bulldog seniors honored in a pregame ceremony. "It was certainly one of the happiest days of my life. I always wanted to play college football and I finally got the chance. And, I thank SC State, Coach Pough and the entire coaching staff and my teammates for the opportunity. I had been waiting 36 years.

"I always said, 'never give up on your dreams. Keep driving forward and don't listen to others people.' It's a great day for me, but I must admit, I didn't think my situation would generate so much attention and so much positive response

He even got kudos from Savannah State.

"The Savannah State players congratulated me after the game." He said. "Good game Pops."

Pough, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak with the win, welcomed the victory, which lifted his team to 4-6 overall and 4-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

"I'm happy for the win, of course," Pough said. "It was a long time coming (after three straight losses) and we needed a win badly. We will certainly enjoy this victory. And we now have a chance to finish with a winning conference record if we are victorious over Bethune-Cookman next week.

"But, most of all" continued Pough, "I'm happy for Joe (Thomas Sr.). "He was our game ball recipient today. We had been looking for a chance to play him and I'm glad we were able to accomplish it. We really wanted to play him last week (in a 13-10 home loss to Norfolk State) but things didn't go like we had hoped. We knew we had to get it done and I was confident we would."

Redshirt freshman Bishop Ford had 24 rushes for 84 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Bulldog victory, which came before a crowd of 7,011. Ford had scoring runs of one and three yards in the win.

Darius Leonard, the reigning MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and a 2015 All-American – in his first action on offense – opened the scoring when he caught an 18-yard scoring pass from redshirt senior quarterback Adrian Kollock Jr., who split the signal-calling duties with sophomore Caleb York.

Kollock also accounted for the Bulldogs' final score when he ran four yards for a scored midway the final period. Wide receiver Quan Caldwell rounded out the SC State scoring with a seven-yard reception from York in the final seconds of the first half.

York completed 10 of 18 attempts for 85 yards and a score and added 61 yards rushing in six attempts for SC State. Kollock connected on six of 11 attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown and rushed six times for 41 yards and a score in the win. Senior Dondre Brown also contributed to SC State's 254 yard rushing total with 10 times for 61 yards.
Freshman De'Montrez Burroughs led the Bulldog receiving corps with three catches for 21 yards. Three other SC State Bulldogs had two catches each in the game, in which SC State rolled up 392 total yards, including 138 passing.

The Tigers fell to 1-16 in the series with SC State, including 0-9 in the Buddy Pough era. SC State's victory was bolstered by a defense that forced four Savannah State turnovers, a lost fumble and three interceptions, two by senior Phillip Henry.

The Bulldogs close out the 2016 campaign Saturday when they host Bethune-Cookman in a game that was originally schedule for Oct. 8, but was not played due to Hurricane Matthew. The Bulldogs will be celebrating "Civil Servants' Day."

~  SCSU Sports Information

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