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A Solid Start

ECSU defeats Central State (Ohio) in football season opener - w/Video

Elizabeth City St. 19 Central State 10

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Elizabeth City State (ECSU) running back Gregory Bryan (with ball) ran for 115 yards with a touchdown during the football game against Central State (Ohio), Saturday, September 1, 2018 at Roebuck Stadium in Elizabeth City.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Elizabeth City State football team made enough big plays as the Vikings defeated Central State (Ohio) 19-10 Saturday afternoon at Roebuck Stadium.

The game, however, was stopped with 12 minutes, 27 seconds to play in the fourth quarter due to lightning near the stadium at around 3:30 p.m.

After an over two-hour delay, the decision was made to officially end the game with the Vikings ahead by nine points at around 5:45 p.m.

“The NCAA rules for Division II require that we play three full quarters. Then you can take that last score and make your decision from there,” ECSU athletic director George Bright said after the game.

“The game administration spoke with the athletics director at Central State. We played strict attention to what the flash to bang ratio was. Both [athletic] trainers had their metrics with them. For the safety of our athletes that is why we made the call.”

It was win No. 1 for first-year ECSU head football coach Anthony Jones leading the Vikings.

“I told them that I was very, very proud of them,” Jones said. “A lot of people don’t understand. I got here too late to do spring ball. And the first time that I saw the most of these guys practice was August 8. We kept working. We kept working and God blessed us with enough healthy guys out there with the will to get out there and compete.”

The coach noted that the team would have loved to complete all four quarters.

“I always told my guys, beside their safety, the most important thing is for us is to go out there and put ourselves in a position to win,” Jones said. “Safety became an issue. We waited and waited and waited and waited. Our safety, the kids safety, the fans safety and even their safety traveling back home became an issue.”

Jones added that Central State and their administration understood the situation.

ECSU (1-0) took the lead seconds into the game during the opening kickoff.

Sophomore Taeyonn Reynolds forced a fumble on the Central State kickoff returner.

Reynolds, from Bayside High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, returned the ball for a touchdown to give the Vikings a 7-0 advantage.

“I had somebody blocking me,” Reynolds said. “I got off the block and I saw the ball. So I just took it.”

Heading back to the ECSU sideline, Reynolds was greeted by his celebrating teammates.

Reynolds, a defensive back, recorded five tackles in the game.

It was a standout effort on defense for the Vikings as they held Central State (0-1) to less than 200 yards of total offense in the contest.

Miacah Cooper led ECSU with nine tackles with a sack.

ECSU’s Greg Williams, a Bertie County High School product, intercepted a pass in the first quarter.

The Marauders got on the scoreboard on a lengthy drive that was capped off on a field goal by Trevor Teel to trim the deficit to 7-3.

For the ECSU offense, it was a tale of two halves.

The Vikings had opportunities to add to their lead.

Following the Williams interception, ECSU drove the ball inside the Marauders 10-yard line.

The Vikings could not covert as ECSU missed a field goal attempt off the right upright.

The Vikings lead 7-3 at halftime.

ECSU established the running game in the second half as Chase Byrum and Gregory Bryan broke runs.

Freshman quarterback Kendrick Patterson got the start for the Vikings.

On a bubble screen pass, Patterson connected with Jaquarious Bellamy for a 20-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 13-3 lead late in the third.

On the play, Bellamy, from Hampton High School in Virginia, got key blocks from his wide receivers.

Patterson finished with 168 passing yards.

“The kid kept growing and growing,” Jones said of Patterson. “I’m proud of the young man.”

According to Jones, De’Abrie Smith, who was in the quarterback battle during fall practice with Patterson, was banged up and did not play.

Deon Yarborough led ECSU with 82 receiving yards.

Central State took the ensuing possession and early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Trent Mays connected with wide receiver Darius Ford for a 21-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-10.

It took the Vikings little time to respond as Gregory Bryan broke free for a 71-yard touchdown run down the ECSU sideline to increase the lead by nine points.

Jones said the key to success running the ball in the second half was persistence along with finding the right formation that would give the Vikings a numbers advantage.

“All I am trying to do is to put them in a position to be successful, but they have to go out and execute,” Jones said.

The Vikings finished with 168 rushing yards with Bryan leading the team with 115 yards on the ground.

After the score, the Marauders had the ball for a handful of plays, then the delay began.

After the game, Jones was awarded the game ball from Bright in the ECSU locker room.

“When your supervisor looks upon you and thinks that you have done something to be worthy to receive something like that, it’s a special feeling,” Jones said. “But I’m not going to accept that alone. I thought my staff did a great job of following my lead and working hard.”

MOMENT OF SILENCE

At halftime, ECSU held a brief moment of silence for Sam Roebuck who passed away late last month.

Roebuck played a key role in the construction of the football stadium that has his name on it.

NEW GEAR

Saturday’s game was the debut of the Vikings’ new jerseys with apparel company Under Armour.

In previous years, ECSU and teams in the CIAA were outfitted by Russell Athletic.

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