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Benedict College makes a statement with road win at Albany State

In a battle of top 25 teams, Benedict College defeated reigning SIAC Champion Albany State 24-20.

ALBANY, Ga. — ALBANY, Ga. – The 23rd-ranked Benedict College Tigers took a major step towards the SIAC football championship with a 24-20 victory over 21st-ranked Albany State Saturday in the ASU Coliseum.

Benedict remains unbeaten on the season at 7-0 and improves to 4-0 in the SIAC. Albany State, the defending SIAC champions, falls to 5-2 overall, 3-1 in the SIAC.

"Praise God as always," said Benedict head coach Chennis Berry. "I'm just so happy for the players and coaches and Benedict College. For the young men to reach their potential means everything to me. To go and beat a very, very good Albany State football team in a hostile environment shows they are committed to the process."

The Tigers racked up 406 yards of total offense, the most allowed by the Albany State defense this season. Eric Phoenix threw for a season-high 253 yards and a touchdown. He completed 22-of-28 passes, including completing his first 11 passes of the game. Phoenix also ran for a touchdown in the third quarter, which gave the Tigers a 24-14 lead.

"I thought we had a really good game plan," Berry said. "We knew their defense hadn't had an offensive touchdown scored on them by a conference team in the last two seasons, and we took that as a challenge. I was proud of the way we were able to move the ball against their defense."

Noah Zaire Scotland rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries to lead a Benedict rushing attack that gained 153 yards. Benedict's defense held Albany State, the SIAC's top rushing team to just 90 yards on the ground.

Benedict took the opening kickoff and drove 85 yards on 16 plays and chewed up nearly nine minutes off the clock. Phoenix capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Billy Pierre. Reginald Davis Rogers kicked the PAT to give Benedict a 7-0 lead with 6:02 left in the first quarter. The drive stayed alive with a key pass interference call against the Golden Rams on a fourth-and-14 play.

The Tigers started another long drive at the end of the first quarter at the Albany State 11-yard line. The Tigers started things off with a big 37-yard pass from Phoenix to Reginald Harden. Deondra Duehart finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. Rogers kicked another PAT to put the Tigers ahead 14-0 with 14:56 left in the second quarter.

The Golden Rams put together a 12-play, 67-yard drive in the second quarter, but the Benedict defense held on a fourth-and-two to keep Albany State off the board.

Albany State took over at the Benedict 25-yard line after a 10-yard punt by the Tigers. Kamran Ward scored on an 8-yard run for the Golden Rams' first score to make it 14-7 with 1:28 left in the half.

A 29-yard run by Scotland and a 28-yard pass from Phoenix to Harden got the Tigers in scoring range just before the half. Rogers added a 20-yard field goal with no time left in the first half to put Benedict on top 17-7 at the half.

Phoenix threw his first interception of the season on a flea-flicker in the third quarter. Rashan Jordan followed with a 93-yard touchdown catch-and-run to cut the lead to 17-14. Benedict, the nation's top defense against the pass, gave up a season-high 234 yards through the air, nearly half on that one play.

Benedict made it 24-14 with 6:32 left in the third quarter on a four-yard quarterback keeper by Phoenix. The key play in that seven-play, 71-yard drive was a 45-yard pass from Phoenix to Eddie Neal.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Golden Rams scored on a 5-yard pass from Jhaydon Sullivan to Ralph Lovett III, but Daythan Peterson blocked the extra point to make it 24-20 with 1:36 left in the game. Benedict recovered the on-sides kick and ran out the clock.

"We knew a storm was coming, and we found a way to weather the storm," Berry said. "We found a way to complete the mission."

The Tigers are on the road again next week, traveling to Atlanta to take on Morehouse College (0-7 overall, 0-4 SIAC) at 2 p.m.

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