Benedict put up double-digit points over the last three quarters coasting to a 47-10 victory over Albany State at Lakewood Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Tigers rolled up over 560 yards of total offense to win their second consecutive SIAC Championship.
Their dominating performance clinched the Tigers a first-round bye in the NCAA DII playoffs as the top seed in the region.
Albany State held the defending champions to a field goal through the first quarter of play. Dayton Baker picked off Tigers quarterback Aeneas Dennis near midfield on the first possession of the game.
Where the offense stumbled the defense shined. The Tigers refused to allow the Golden Rams to capitalize on the interception holding the opposition to two yards on three downs.
Albany State has a star-in-the-making in punter Gilbert Brown. The sophomore from Richmond Hill, GA was called on nine times booming three punts over 50 yards including one for 62 yards. His hang time allowed the Rams special teams to hold the Tigers to a lowly 6.7 return yards per punt.
The Tigers kicked the offense in gear capping a six-play drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Dennis to Caden High. High had three receptions for 66 yards on the drive. He led all receivers with 9 receptions for 156 yards.
Dennis threw another touchdown on the next offensive series. This time Dennis found Reginald Harden for a 55-yard catch-and-run.
New Style Tigers
Despite the two big passes for scores that were hallmarks of the Tigers 2022 team, this squad is far more methodical in setting up touchdowns. Four of the Tigers’ seven scoring drives were 6 plays or more. The offense is balanced between the run and the pass. Benedict rushed for 251 yards and passed for 312 yards. The Tigers defense held the Golden Rams to 193 yards of offense.
Albany State finally got on the board in the second half behind a 12-play, 49-yard drive and a 35-yard field goal by Eli Mashburn.
The defense scored the Tigers’ first touchdown of the second half. Jayden Broughton came clean off the corner hitting Golden Rams quarterback Jhaydon Sullivan and separating him from the ball. Loobert Denelus recovered the fumble in the end zone.
Benedict added another touchdown before the Golden Rams scored their first of the day. Local product Dionte Bonneau, the third Albany State quarterback of the day, gave the offense a jolt. The graduate student from nearby Banneker High School completed a pass for 39 yards and rushed twice for 15 yards including a 5-yard touchdown run.
Benedict added a field goal at the end of the third quarter and two touchdowns in the fourth to close out the scoring and launch the celebration.
The big lead allowed Head Coach Chennis Berry to get his reserves in the game and rest his starters. As for the playoffs Coach Berry had this to say, “We are going to enjoy this and get our team healthy right now.”