NORFOLK, Va. (NSUAthletics.com)- Dillon Bredsen kicked the tying 29-yard field goal with two seconds left in the fourth quarter, then won it with a 27-yarder in overtime as South Carolina State squeezed out a 20-17 win over Norfolk State in the regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday afternoon at Dick Price Stadium.
After Bredsen’s go-ahead field goal started the overtime, NSU (5-7, 4-4 MEAC) had possession with a chance to win it. But Chad Gilchrist deflected Josh Nardone’s 35-yard field goal to end the game as the Bulldogs (8-3, 6-2) escaped and earned a tie of the MEAC regular-season title with North Carolina A&T.
A cold, steady rain began to fall in the second half and with NSU starting quarterback Juwan Carter knocked out of the game, things appeared to be going the Bulldogs’ way as they opened up a 14-3 lead. The second of LaBron Morris’ 1-yard TD runs came with 13:25 left in the third quarter to give SCSU an 11-point edge.
But NSU battled back. Gerald Hulett scored on a 14-yard run to cap a 14-play, 74-yard drive to answer the Bulldogs’ score. Nardone PAT brought NSU within 14-10 with 6:26 left in the third quarter.
The Spartan defense kept the score that way, forcing three Bulldog punts in the fourth quarter. The last of those was a short one, allowing NSU to take possession at the SCSU 47 with 2:01 left to play. A 15-yard run by Rayquan Smith and facemask penalty moved the Spartans into the Bulldog red zone. Two plays later, Hulett dove across the goal line on an 8-yard run to give NSU a 17-14 lead with just 58 seconds left.
But the Bulldogs managed to force overtime. Trailing by three, they took over their next drive at their own 41 and immediately hit a 20-yard pass play from Corey Fields to De’Montrez Burroughs. Fields then completed three straight short passes to Morris, whose 5-yard run set up Bredsen’s tying field goal with two seconds remaining in regulation.
The loss snapped NSU’s three-game winning streak, which was the team’s longest since 2011. NSU won four of its final six games on the campaign.
Morris scored on a 1-yard run at the 1:19 mark of the first quarter. The only other scoring in a defensive-minded first half was Nardone’s 39-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Spartans excelled on the ground Saturday. They completed just 6-of-27 passes, but ran for 233 yards, their second-highest total of the year. Quarterback D’Andre Thomas, who relieved Carter late in the first quarter, rushed for a game- and career-high 93 yards on 15 carries. Hulett, one of 12 Spartans playing in their final game at NSU, logged career highs of 20 rushes for 84 yards and scored twice.
Four seniors led NSU in tackles. Safety Nhyre’ Quinerly had 12, one for loss. Linebacker Nigel Chavis posted 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss, with one sack. Cephas Harden had 10 stops, half for loss.
Junior De’Shaan Dixon had two of NSU’s four sacks, with Chris Myers and Chavis adding the others. Myers finished the season with 9.0 sacks, the most by a Spartan since Deon King had 9.5 in 2013.
Morris rushed for 80 yards and Fields threw for 286 for the Bulldogs, who now await word on whether they will advance to the FCS playoffs as an at-large team. N.C. A&T will represent the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl in December.