CSU Marauders Off To Best Start Since ’96

d.gary.9.19COLUMBIA, South Carolina – The Central State Marauders put up two early touchdowns and didn’t look back in a 24-0 road victory over SIAC opponent Benedict College on Saturday night.

Coming off a 49 point performance in last week’s victory of Clark-Atlanta, quarterback Marquis Wells and the CSU offense picked up where they left off, opening with a 75 yard touchdown drive on the first possession of the game. After a Wells miscue that resulted in an interception on the second drive, the junior quarterback quickly rebounded with a 40 yard touchdown strike to Christopher Murray on CSU’s third possession to put CSU up 14-0 with 5 seconds left in the 1st quarter.

While the offense was finding early success for the second straight week, the Marauder defense continued its relentless attack on opposing quarterbacks, posting 3 first half sacks on freshman Kalu Onumah. The defense also held the BC rushing attack to just 2 yards in the first 30 minutes of play to maintain a 14-0 lead at half.

“Our focus was getting to their quarterback early,” CSU coach Cedric Pearl said. “We knew that if we could get him off his game and make his night uncomfortable that we would have a great chance to win.”

With the defense holding the Tiger offense at bay, CSU running back Isaiah Grooms put the Marauders up 21-0 at the 4:09 mark of the 3rd quarter with a 28 yard rush. Kicker John Adams would add insurance on a 32 yard field goal at the conclusion of the quarter to give CSU the 24-0 lead.

With no question on the outcome, Coach Pearl and the Marauders were able to successfully run out the clock for most of the 4th quarter on their way to back-to-back road wins for the first time since 2007.

“It means a lot for this program to find success on the road,” Pearl said. “These last two road wins have helped with our confidence as we prepare for the Circle City Classic next week.”

With Saturday night’s victory, the Marauders (2-1) are off to the best start since 1996. The shutout performance by the Marauder defense was the first since a 22-0 victory over Lincoln back in 2009. CSU also improved its all-time record to 3-1 against Benedict, who fell to 0-3 on the season.

CSU’s rushing attack was able to dictate the pace of play, outgaining Benedict by 232 yards. Wells along with running backs Isaiah Grooms and Jihad Rasheed finished with 60+ rushing yards each. The defense combined for 5 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss and 1 interception. Linebacker Deonate Gary led the defensive charge with 6 tackles, including two huge stops on 3rd down to force BC punts.

“We will enjoy the victory tonight and turn our focus to Kentucky State tomorrow,” Pearl said. “We will continue to work on getting better in all phases of the game heading into next week’s contest in Indianapolis.”

The Marauders and Thorobreds reignite a rivalry that dates back to 1947 next Saturday at the 32nd Circle City Classic in Lucas Oil Stadium. The Marauders currently hold a 35-19-1 advantage in the all-time series with the only tie coming in 1957. In addition to playing in a NFL stadium, this year’s Circle City Classic will be featured on ESPN3 with the kickoff scheduled for 3 pm.

Via Central State Athletics