From Shorter University Athletics:
By Jim O’Hara
ROME, Ga. – The one thing Shorter head coach Phil Jonesemphasized to his team heading into the game was to hold on to the ball.
On Saturday, the despite seeing two runners rush for more than 100 yards and rolling up more than 450 yards of offense, the Hawks fell victim to their own turnovers as No. 17 Delta State turned four mistakes into 24 points to hand Shorter a 38-17 GSC defeat at Barron Stadium in the Hawks’ Homecoming game.
The setback gives the Hawks, who coughed up the ball eight times and lost five of them, a 1-1 conference record and a 2-3 overall slate heading into next week’s road game in Livingston, Ala., when Shorter faces conference foe West Alabama in a GSC Game of the Week matchup on ESPN3.
Against the Statesmen, now 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference, the Hawks finished the game rushing for a season-high 396 yards on 66 carries, with junior fullback B.J. McCoy and red-shirt freshman Kartez Carr each going over the 100-yard mark with McCoy lead all ballcarriers with a career 183 yards – it was the fourth time this year he has rushed for more than 100 yards – on 23 carries, while Carr had his best game in his first season rushing for 110 yards on just seven totes, two of them resulting in touchdown runs of 37 and 30 yards.
Delta State wound up with 325 yards offensively, but did the scoring damage when the Hawks presented them with turnover opportunities as the Statesmen’s first score came off a blocked punt and their final TD coming on a fumble return.
The Hawks’ defense was able to keep DSU in check for most of the game and recorded a season high five sacks, with junior Trevaris Horton leading the charge with a pair of quarterback hits behind the line of scrimmage. Horton now has 10 career sacks, the fourth most in Shorter history.
As has been the case in their last two games, the Hawks scored on their first series of the game when they put together a 66-yard march that took seven plays, the final one a 37-yard touchdown run Carr, who broke into the end zone for the first time this season with a 37-yard run. Kenny Langford added the extra point just five minutes into the game.
But Delta State turned the game around making the most of Shorter turnovers, the first coming early in the second quarter when DSU’s D’Quan Bates blocked a punt attempt by David Thompson, scooped up the ball at the Hawks 3 and took it into the end zone. Vince Sciorrotta added the point after to tie the game with 14:08 left in the half.
The Statesmen got the ball back the next time Shorter touched the ball, this time recovering a fumble by the home team at the DSU 47, and from there the visitors took it all the way to score, this time using seven plays to cover the 53 yards with Justin Leavy scoring from a yard out with 7:42 remaining in the second quarter and put his team ahead, 14-7.
The Hawks appeared to be headed to a game-tying score with just over three minutes left in the first half, moving the ball to the DSU 1 but once again could not hold on to the ball and fumbled it away to the Statesmen at the Delta State 2.
From there, the Statesmen quickly struck again going the distance, the big gainer a 57-yard pass from Tyler Cameron to Jarvis York that put DSU at the Shorter 1 and from there Eddie McCadney scored to give his team a 21-7 lead with 1:36 until the break.
The Hawks finally managed to mount one final scoring drive in the half on their ensuing series, moving the ball 47 yards to the DSU 17 where Langford connected with a 34-yard field goal as time expired to help Shorter cut into Delta State’s lead, 21-10.
Shorter returned for the second half matching its game-opening drive with a scoring march to start the third quarter, going 75 yards on just five plays with Carr hitting paydirt for the second time, this time from 30 yards out.
That, however, would be the last time the Hawks put points on the scoreboard.
With 2:44 to, the Statesmen added three more points to make it 24-17 when Sciorrotta nailed a 22-yard field goal – it was set up by a Shorter fumble that was recovered by DSU at the Hawks’ 14 – and after the Hawks saw a 29-yard FG try go wide of its mark, Delta State put together a 92-yard march that was highlighted by a 64-yard pass from Cameron to York and culminated when McCadney scored from six yards out.
Delta State added some insurance with 2:16 left to play when Keijne Thomas collected the Hawks’ last fumble of the game and rambled 49 yards into the end zone.
Cameron, starting for the first time behind center for Delta State, finished the afternoon completing 13 of 19 passes for 196 yards, while D’Jaun Bellaire rushed for 116 yards on 20 carries.
Zach Butts and Jevaris Jones led the Hawks’ defense, which played most of the game without senior linebackerDominique Henfield who left the game after being injured in the first quarter, with 8.5 tackles each. Jones added a sack and 2.5 tackles for losses.