Durham, N.C. (Nov. 3, 2012) --- Delaware State's bid for a fifth straight win and sole possession of second place in the MEAC ended abruptly in a 23-20 double overtime loss to North Carolina Central before a capacity homecoming crowd at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium this afternoon.
The game ended when North Carolina Central blocked a potential game-tying field goal attempt by DSU's Mitchell Ward in the second overtime, touching off an on-field celebration by the Eagles.
The Hornets lost for the first time since Sep. 22 (vs. Florida A&M) to fall to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the MEAC. NC Central won for the fifth time in six games to improve to 6-3 and 5-1.
The game was tied at 17-17 at the end of regulation. The overtime contest was Delaware State's first since 2008. The Hornets are 2-2 all-time in overtime games.
On the first possession of overtime, Ward booted a 25-yard field goal to give the Hornets a 20-17 lead.
The Eagles tied the game on their first overtime possession when Oleg Parent nailed a season-best 46- yard field goal to tie the game at 20-20.
NC Central had the ball first in the second overtime session. Parent gave the Eagles a 23-20 lead on a 26-yard field goal.
On the ensuing Delaware State possession, an apparent pass interference call against NC Central at the goal line was waived off when the officials determined that Nick Elko's pass to Justin Wilson was uncatchable. Three plays later, North Carolina Central's Malik Cromartie broke through the line to block Ward's 35-yard field goal attempt to end the game.
North Carolina Central scored first on Parent's 26-yard field goal on the opening possession of the game.
The Hornets tied the game 3-3 when Ward kicked a 31-yard field goal with 7:04 left in the first quarter. Delaware State quarterback Nick Elko complete 6-of-9 passes for 35 yards during the 13-play, 51-yard drive.
NC Central took advantage of a Delaware State special teams turnover to regain the lead.
Five plays after DSU's Travis Tarpley lost a fumble on a punt return, the Eagles scored a touchdown on a three-yard pass from Jordan Reid to Jonathan Nicley with 7:49 left in the second quarter. Parent's extra point kick gave NCCU a 10-3 lead.
Delaware State used a big play to tie the game on its next possession.
Elko hooked up with Justin Wilson on a 54-yard touchdown pass to cap off an 11-play, 94-yard drive with 2:55 to go before halftime. Ward's extra point kick tied the game at 10-10.
North Carolina Central regained the lead when Arthur Goforth returned Marco Kano's punt 92-yards for a touchdown with 13:01 left in the third quarter. Goforth field the ball at the NCCU eight yard line and avoided a half dozen would-be tacklers before sprinting across field for the score. The extra point kick put the Eagles ahead 17-10.
The Hornets took advantage of a NCCU turnover to even the game.
Eight plays after Hornet defensive back Terrick Colston forced and recovered a fumble, Malcolm Williams reached the endzone on a one-yard run. The 42-yard drive was highlighted by Nagee Jackson's 27-yards rushing on four carries. The score was tied at 17-17 after Ward's extra point with one second left in the third quarter.
Wilson led all players with a career-high 12 receptions for 138 yards.
Tarpley had nine catches for 72 yards to set a DSU single season record for receptions for the second straight year. He has 69 grabs this year after setting the previous record with 66 in 2011.
Elko completed 35-of-56 passes for 305 yards, his second straight 300-yard passing game.
Defensive back Joe Boyd led the Hornets with 14 tackles, including five solo stops. Colston added 11 tackles. He was also credited with an interception, in addition to the forced fumble and recovery.
Davon Moore and Nick Williams also had interceptions for the Hornets. DSU has forced 23 turnovers this season after collecting just 13 in 2011. .
Defensive end Rodney Gunter had six tackles, including a career-high three sacks (-18).
The Hornets will play their 2012 home finale next Saturday (Nov. 10) against Hampton. Game time is 1:00 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.