DE Randolph sparks Johnson C. Smith’s defense in nattow win

Chris Randolph’s sacks put Johnson C. Smith’s home opener in the bag.

The senior defensive end came up with three of them Saturday, including a pair that led to fourth-quarter turnovers in the Golden Bulls’ 13-6 win against Kentucky State at McGirt Field. Randolph’s heroics capped a big day for J.C. Smith (1-1), which forced four turnovers and stopped Kentucky State five times inside the Golden Bulls’ 40, including a goal-line stand at the 1.

“The only thing that was going through my mind was what coach (Steve) Aycock said – he was going to put it on the D-line and O-line,” said Randolph, who finished with 7 1/2 tackles (5 1/2 for loss) and three forced fumbles. “We literally took that to heart.”

Kentucky State (1-1) outgained J.C. Smith 354 yards to 281, but the Golden Bulls delivered stops when necessary. They converted a pair of first-quarter fumbles into a 10-0 lead and the defense made it stand up despite a pair of blocked punts and a couple of turnovers by the offense.

“The defense overall, just played relentless football,” J.C. Smith coach Aycock said. “You saw all 11 people (around the ball) and I’m sure when I watch film tonight, I’m sure I’ll have a chance to put a check mark on that.”

After J.C. Smith’s Erik Amaya, who played at Kannapolis A.L Brown High, connected on a 22-yard field goal to push the Golden Bulls’ advantage to seven, Kentucky State drove to the J.C. Smith 17. On fourth-and-6, Randolph sacked Adam Robinson and defensive tackle Jabari Carney jumped on the loose ball. After Kentucky State blocked a second punt at the Golden Bulls’ 24, J.C. Smith stiffened, closing the game with Randolph’s final sack and defensive end Jovontay Williams’ fumble recovery at the 29 to thwart the challenge.

“Jovontay was getting double-teamed the entire game,” Randolph said. “I knew that was going to leave me free to make some big plays on the defensive side of the ball and we all came together collectively to get this win.”

The Golden Bulls took advantage of a pair of Thorobreds miscues to seize a 10-point halftime lead. Austin Jacques’ fumble recovery was converted into a 30-yard touchdown pass from Keahn Wallace (21-for-35, 232 yards) to tailback Leander Barney, and Amaya’s 27-yard field goal was the result of Marcus Bullock’s recovery.

Both teams moved the ball early in decidedly different ways, with J.C. Smith outgaining Kentucky State 164-141. The Golden Bulls built their success through the air, with Wallace hitting 12 of 19 passes for 132 yards and a score, but tailback Jacquise Lockett paced the Thorobreds with 89 rushing yards and a score on 14 carries.