Savannah, Ga. (Nov. 4, 2017) --- Savannah State quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another, while the Tigers’ defense recorded eight sacks and their special teams contributed two scores in a 35-21 victory over Delaware State in a MEAC contest at Ted Wright Stadium today.
Savannah State won for the second straight week to improve to 2-7 overall and 2-4 in the MEAC. The Hornets dropped their second in a row to fall to 1-8 and 1-6.
Freshman wide receiver Trey Gross had three receptions for 48 yards, including touchdown catches of 5 and 25 yards for Delaware State. It’s his second two-touchdown game this season. Gross has caught 21 passes for 339 yards and five touchdowns in the last four games. He leads the Hornets in touchdown receptions and total TDs this season.
Delaware State threw for 237 yards in the contest, raising its total to 1,315 passing yards in the last five games (263.0 avg.). The Hornets averaged 154.3 yards passing in their first four outings (617 total).
DSU netted just 17 yards rushing, including 58 yards lost on the eight Savannah State sacks. Three of the Hornets’ opening day offensive line starters- Cade Pedro (so.), Kaiden Crawford (r-fr.) and Kaydence Jackson (fr.)- are out for the season due to injuries.
Gibbons rushed for a 9-yard touchdown and threw a 39-yard scoring pass to Cameron White to give the Tigers a 14-0 first quarter lead.
Delaware State got on the board late in the second quarter. Two plays after Savannah State lost the ball on downs at its 6-yard line following a botched play out of punt formation, Keenan Black connected with Gross on a 5-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick by Wisdom Nzidee cut Savannah State’s lead to 14-7 with 3:20 to go before halftime.
Following the touchdown, the Hornet defense forced the Tigers to go three-and-out, but DSU failed to move the ball on its next possession and was forced to punt from its endzone after losing 16 yards on a third down sack.
Punting from the endzone, the kick by Delaware State’s Fidel Romo-Martinez hit the back of a Hornet blocker and recovered by Savannah State’s Elijah Shah for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 21-7 lead with 1:15 remaining in the second quarter.
Delaware State started strong in the second half. Jordan Hannah returned the second half kickoff 50 yards to midfield. After a 21-yard pass to Kwannah Kollie moved the ball to the SSU 25, Black and Gross hooked up for their second touchdown of the game to pull the Hornets to within 21-14 at the 13:44 mark of the second quarter.
The ensuing Delaware State kickoff was returned by Savannah State’s JaMichael Baldwin to the Hornet 24-yard line. Four plays later, Gibbons rushed for his second touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run to give the Tigers a 28-14 lead with 11:38 left in the third quarter.
The Hornets still trailed by 14 and was forced to punt with less than five minutes remaining in the game. The return was fumbled by the Tigers and recovered by DSU at the Savannah State 40.
On the first play after the turnover, Black hit Taronn Selby for a 40-yard touchdown pass to keep the Hornets’ hopes alive. After the extra point by Nzidee, Delaware State trailed 28-21 with 4:19 left to play. The touchdown grab was the second of the season for Selby, who led DSU with four catches and 63 receiving yards in the game.
DSU’s hopes were quickly dashed when the ensuing kickoff was returned by SSU’s Baldwin 70 yards for a touchdown to put the Hornets again in a two-touchdown hole with 4:04 remaining in the game.
Black completed 12-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, however, he threw four interceptions and was sacked six times.
Nyfease West led the Hornets with a career-high 72 yards rushing on 14 carries to climb to the team with 251 yards this season.
Defensively, DSU freshman linebacker Devin Adams had a game-and-career-high 14 tackles (10 solo), including 3.5 behind the line-of-scrimmage and two forced fumbles.
Freshman defensive back Devin Smith had 11 tackles, seven unassisted, for the Hornets.
Delaware State returns to action next Saturday (Nov. 11) for their 2017 home finale against Morgan State. The Military Appreciation Day contest is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
DSU will close out the season on Nov. 18 at Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla.