CLINTON, S.C. – The Presbyterian College football team used a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away from Saint Francis (Pa.) en route to a 26-14 on Saturday afternoon at Bailey Memorial Stadium in Clinton, S.C. The Blue Hose conclude non-conference play with a 3-3 record, while the Red Flash drop to 3-2 on the season.
Head Coach Tommy Spangler’s Take:
“I’m humbled by the win today because that’s a good football team and I’m grateful to our kids for playing the way that they did. Three things stick out to me. First, the consistency on defense. I’m very proud of how the defense played. Obviously, proud of the special teams play. We have gotten better each week and continue to work and that made a big difference. How about the offense though? Driving for two scores in the fourth quarter to put the game away. It really was a team victory all the way around today against a well-respected opponent in Saint Francis.”
How It Happened
PC started the scoring with a field goal late in the first quarter to take the early lead. Brett Norton capped off a nine-play drive with a 38-yard field goal, the second-longest of his career, to give PC a 3-0 lead with just a few seconds remaining in the first quarter. On the ensuing Saint Francis drive, a bad snap went over the head of the punter, forcing him to toss the ball out of the end zone for a safety to give PC a 5-0 lead.
The Blue Hose special teams came up big later in the second quarter. Rod Haygood was able to block a SFU punt and Malachi Brown recovered it and returned it 17 yards for the touchdown, pushing the PC advantage to the halftime lead of 12-0. It was the first PC blocked punt return for a touchdown since 2011 when Justin Bethel recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for the score.
Saint Francis got the board with a defensive touchdown midway through the third quarter. SFU linebacker Da’Jon Lee forced a PC fumble and Louie Gartner recovered it and went 49 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 12-7.
PC extended its lead early in the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 94-yard touchdown drive, capped off a by a 50-yard touchdown reception by Darquez Watson on a pass from Ben Cheek that made it 19-7. SFU answered on its ensuing drive, going 75 yards in just five plays with quarterback Bear Fenimore finding Jymere Jordan-Toney for 15 yards for the touchdown to cut it to 19-14. The Blue Hose were able to put the game away with an eight-play, 79-yard drive that saw Torrance Marable goes 12 yards for the score to make it 26-14 with just over four minutes to play.
The win gives PC its third on the season, its most since going 6-5 in 2014. The 3-3 start is also the best since doing the same in 2014.
Ben Cheek stepped up late in the game to lead the PC offense to the victory. He finished the game with a career-high 153 passing yards and a touchdown on 10-of-18 passing, while rushing for a season-high 93 yards on 15 carries. He established a new career-high with 246 yards of total offense in the contest. It was his fourth straight game throwing for at least 130 yards.
Rock Ya-Sin recorded his second interception of the season in the third quarter to halt an already nine-play SFU drive. He added seven tackles and a pair of pass breakups in the victory.
- Torrance Marable, the Big South’s leading rusher, proved consistent once again, rushing 21 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. The score was his fifth of the season to give him the team lead.
- Darquez Watson scored his first touchdown of the season with a 50-yard reception on a pass from Ben Cheek in the fourth quarter. Watson finished the game with three receptions for a career-high 65 receiving yards to aid PC in the win.
- Dashawn Davis led the Blue Hose again with four receptions for 60 yards, including a 42-yarder in the fourth quarter to set up PC’s final touchdown of the game.
- The Blue Hose finished the contest with 204 rushing yards, its third game this season with at least 200 on the ground. PC has found the end zone on the ground at least once in every contest so far.
- PC was able to score 26 points against an SFU team that entered the game having allowed just 30 points all season. The Red Flash entered the game ranked second in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing just eight points per game. They also ranked third in the nation in turnovers forced with 14 entering the game and managed just one takeaway on the day.
- The blocked punt return for a touchdown was the first by PC since 2011 when Justin Bethel recovered a block punt in the end zone at Furman on September 24.
- PC also recorded a safety for the first time since 2011 when Donelle Williams tackled a Coastal Carolina rusher in the endzone for the two points.
- The Blue Hose recorded 2.0 sacks in the game, after having managed just 3.0 sacks all season entering today’s game. Gyasi Yeldell recorded his first sack of the year, while Nick Moss and Antonio Leroy teamed up for 0.5 sack each, their first of the year respectively.
- PC held Saint Francis scoreless in the first half. It was the first time since 2014 that PC held its opponent scoreless in the opening half, when it allowed zero points in the first half against Gardner-Webb in the season finale.
- Ryan Burgess led the Blue Hose in tackles on the afternoon, reaching a season-high 10 tackles. Elijah Turner added eight tackles from the secondary, his fifth straight game with at least five tackles.
- The defense held the Red Flash to 243 yards of total offense, its lowest total of the season and the least amount of yards allowed by PC this season. SFU entered the game averaging 31.8 points per game but came away with just 14 points.
The seven-game homestand for PC rolls on next week, as conference play begins against Charleston Southern. Kickoff is set for noon and can be seen on the Stadium Network.