Derek Bryant made the most of his promotion to Fayetteville State’s starting quarterback. Bryant, a sophomore making his second career start, passed for 418 yards and three touchdowns in the Broncos’ 35-26 win against CIAA South rival J.C. Smith on Saturday at McGirt Field.
Whenever Fayetteville State (4-3, 3-1) needed a big play, Bryant and his receivers supplied it to hand the Golden Bulls their second straight loss and third in four games.
“It’s a testament to our coaching staff,” Bryant said. “All week (offensive coordinator Calvin) Randall preached to all the quarterbacks to finish, no matter who starts, no matter what situation he’s in. Just play a complete ball game, all four quarters.”
The Broncos, who blew a 19-point second-half lead in a 44-34 loss to Shaw last week, did just that. Offensively, they peppered J.C. Smith (4-3, 2-3) with the pass with Bryant connecting on 24-of-38 attempts, including scoring strikes of 68 and 65 yards. On defense, Fayetteville State picked off four J.C. Smith passes and stopped the Golden Bulls on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter to set the stage for a 68-yard touchdown pass from Bryant to Tavon Gatlin (eight catches, 145 yards). Teammate Dwayne Lorick added seven catches for a game-high 159 yards as the Broncos exploited J.C. Smith’s secondary.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to Fayetteville State,” Golden Bulls coach Steve Aycock said. “They had the quick slants. (Lorick) must have had 200 yards today in receiving. We’ve got to go back to the film and find some people who can cover the slot (receiver).”
Fayetteville State seized a 21-13 lead at intermission by using an efficient passing attack and opportunistic defense. The Broncos rolled up 263 yards on offense compared to J.C. Smith’s 185, with Bryant hitting 13-of-24 passes for 242 yards and a pair of scores, including a 65-yarder to Lorick to make the score 14-7. J.C. Smith, which entered the game with a Division II-leading 34 sacks, managed only one as Fayetteville State’s offensive line gave Bryant time to survey the field.
“Our offensive line is the best in the CIAA,” Bryant said. “I trust everybody from our coaches to whoever we plug in because we have a vast rotation of receivers and offensive linemen.”
The Broncos snared three interceptions in the first half to frustrate J.C. Smith, and forced Golden Bulls quarterback Keahn Wallace (9-of-16, 82 yards, 2 interceptions) to the sidelines with an ankle injury. Backup Andrew Alexander (Ardrey Kell High) led the Golden Bulls on their final possession, a 10-play, 70-yard drive punctuated by LeAnder Barney’s 13-yard run with 1:07 left. Alexander, who completed 13-of-20 passes for 182 yards and a score, added 60 rushing yards on 11 carries.
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