By Dennis Switzer, Sports Information Director Benedict College
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The high-octane Benedict College Tigers offense put on a scoring clinic in front of a national television audience as the Tigers amassed 478 yards of total offense to cruise to a 44-3 victory over Edward Waters University in Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
The Tigers had three big scoring plays, as quarterback Eric Phoenix connected on touchdown strikes of 60 yards, 44 yards and 51 yards. Phoenix completed 11-of-18 passes for a career-high 292 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Benedict, now 2-0 on the season, averaged over 24 yards per pass completion and more than nine-and-a-half yards per play for the game.
“We pride ourselves in chunk plays,” said Benedict head coach Chennis Berry, who came to Benedict as a highly-touted offensive coordinator from Southern University. “We want to be explosive. We want runs over 10 and passes over 15. We chart that. The guys did a good job of doing their job. I was proud of their effort.”
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to strike. Benedict took the opening kickoff and drove 60 yards on seven plays. A 42-yard pass from Phoenix to Darius Philon set the stage for Benedict’s big play night. Phoenix scored the touchdown on a 5-yard run for a 7-0 lead with 12:02 on the clock.
Edward Waters ate nearly nine minutes off the clock on the ensuing drive, but traveled just 40 yards on 14 plays. EWU settled for a 30-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Tigers needed just one minute to put another touchdown on the board, as Phoenix found Philon again, this time for a 60-yard scoring play to put Benedict up 14-3 with 2:07 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers ran three consecutive running plays to start the second quarter to lull Edward Waters before hitting them with a 44-yard bomb from Phoenix to Te’Sean Pressley to take a 21-3 lead. Benedict blocked an Edward Waters 43-yard field goal attempt to end the first half.
Benedict pushed the lead to 35-3 early in the fourth quarter as Phoenix completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Steven Campbell. Phoenix kept the drive alive with a 32-yard scramble on third-and-11.
A 24-yard punt return by Philon gave Benedict good field position midway through the fourth quarter. Reserve quarterback Nathan Harden kept the big-play night going with a 27-yard pass to Tayven Grice to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Omarion Coleman for a 42-3 lead with 6:20 left in the game.
Edward Waters fumbled a punt on their next possession and punter Angel Sevier kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone for a BC safety and close the scoring at 44-3.
The Benedict defense held Edward Waters (1-1) to just 175 yards of total offense. The Tigers picked off a pair of EWU passes, as Fern Romero III picked off a pass late in the first quarter that later led to a BC touchdown. Joshua Heyward picked off a pass early in the third quarter. The defense also registered seven tackles for loss, forced one fumble, had one sack and blocked a field-goal attempt.
“The defense played lights out,” Berry said. “We’re still growing. We’re still learning as a program. We’re still a new program. But the guys are believing. That’s the ultimate thing. They believe in the program, they believe in the mission and believe in the vision, and I’m glad to be the head football coach at Benedict College.
“The guys came to play today. I was proud of our coaches putting our guys in position to be successful. We had a great game plan and the guys went out and executed,” Berry said.
Benedict travels to Savannah State next week for their first SIAC East Division contest. Kickoff is 6 p.m.