South Carolina State had much to celebrate Saturday as the Bulldogs defeated Morgan State 37-14 before a spirited homecoming crowd.

Earlier in the day, newly inducted Pro Football Hall of Famer Donnie Shell was recognized with a banner along the concourse of Oliver C. Dawson Stadium. The man with 51 career interceptions had to be pleased as the Bulldogs picked off five Morgan State passes in the victory.

Senior Zafir Kelly led S.C. State with two interceptions and provided a spark early in the second quarter when he returned a blocked field goal 90 yards to put the Bulldogs up 14-0.

“(Our coaches) definitely put an emphasis on scoop-and-score. Every time we work on PAT, if we’re behind the line of scrimmage, scoop and score,” Kelly said. “I wasn’t passing up this opportunity. I scooped it clean and I was off to the races.”

S.C. State head coach Buddy Pough said Kelly always had the potential to be an excellent player.

“Sometimes I feel sorry for (Kelly) because we beat him up in practice,” Pough said. “We do that because we think he can be just as good or better than any defender on our team. He just doesn’t see it himself. We have to try to motivate him.”

Decobie Durant and Tim Ewing also added interceptions along with defensive lineman Jablonski Green, who returned a screen pass nine yards for the Bulldogs’ final score.

“We work on screen retracing every day in practice, and when I felt the offensive lineman let me go free, I just knew it was a pass,” Green said. “When I got it, I saw my boys in front of me and just knew I had to get in the end zone.”

Green and the rest of the Bulldog defense harassed Morgan State quarterbacks and allowed 58 rushing yards for the game.

B.J Davis led S.C. State with seven tackles, including a sack and two tackles for loss. Tim Ewing had five tackles while Patrick Godbolt added four solo tackles, three tackles for loss and blocked a field goal.

Offensively, Corey Fields threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, but also had two interceptions in the game. It’s the third consecutive game in which Fields has had multiple turnovers.

“We missed a few opportunities tonight,” Fields said. “When you get a new play, flush the old one. Just worry about where your eyes are, focus on your assignment and just take it one play at a time.”

Richard Bailey led the Bulldogs with five catches and had 79 yards and a touchdown. Shaquan Davis caught three passes for 85 yards and a score while Will Vereen had three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown.”

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“Corey has to figure it out a little bit, but we do too,” Pough said. “Sometimes it’s a little bit of a combination of the receivers and the quarterback. He had a couple of drops early in the game, which hurt him, he wasn’t able to get started the way he wanted. You come back and press and throw a few picks. I think the guy’s a talent.”

South Carolina State struggled running the football but did finish with 114 yards. Pough said the offensive line was a patchwork this week after having multiple players get injured.

“I really have to take my hat off to the offensive line guys,” Pough said. “Right tackle) Chris Simon didn’t play. I think he’s our best offensive lineman. Dallas Foard went down on the third play of the game. It was not pretty there for a while. We couldn’t run and didn’t know how to get a good pass protection together. I was scared for a minute.”

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Morgan State threatened to make it a game early in the third quarter when Neil Boudreau completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Devon Mondy, cutting the S.C. State lead to 21-14. The defense held and did not allow another point the rest of the game.

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By the numbers

7 – Turnovers forced by the South Carolina State defense. Along with the five interceptions, Patrick Godbolt recovered a fumble in the first quarter and Tim Ewing recovered a fumble that was caused by Chad Gilchrist early in the third quarter. It looked as if the Bulldogs would have another fumble recovery, but the officials called the Morgan State runner down, and replay was unable for a review.

They said it

“Defense kept making turnovers. They won the game for us because they kept putting us in good positions with short fields. Then, when they picked that ball up and ran it back for a score, that was the biggest play of the game for us. That was the biggest part of the game.” — Buddy Pough on his defense’s performance against Morgan State.

How they scored

First Quarter

SCSU: Corey Fields 18-yard pass to Will Vereen (Gavyn Zimmerman kick) – 7-0 (5:08)

Second Quarter

SCSU: Patrick Godbolt blocks field goal returned 90 yards by Zafir Kelly (Zimmerman kick) – 14-0 (14:41)

MSU: Alfonzo Graham 40-yard run (Kluivert Akubuo kick) – 14-7 (14:09)

SCSU: Fields 55-yard pass to Shaquan Davis (Zimmerman kick) – 21-7 (8:12)

Third Quarter

MSU: Neil Boudreau 32-yard pass to Devon Mondy (Akubuo kick) -21-14 (10:35)

SCSU: Fields 31 yard pass to Richard Bailey (Zimmerman kick) – 28-14 (5:41)

SCSU: Zimmerman 26 yard field goal – 31-14 (0:10)

4th Quarter

SCSU: Jablonski Green interception return nine yards (conversion failed) – 37-14 (8:15)

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