Benedict defeats Allen

Benedict College now can proudly boast of a 56-year winning streak against Allen University.

The Tigers and Yellow Jackets renewed their rivalry on Saturday in Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, with Benedict taking a 45-12 victory in the Carolinas Classic. Benedict won the previous meeting, 12-6, in 1966.

"It was a great crowd, great for the fan base," said Benedict College head coach Chennis Berry. "It was great for the fan base and alumni from both institutions. A lot of these people are families together and intertwined and houses divided. We get 365 days and a chance to do it again."

The Tigers finished with 428 yards of total offense with an equal balance between rushing (221 yards) and passing (207 yards). Jayden McCloud led the ground attack with 116 yards rushing on 13 carries, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. Quarterback Eric Phoenix completed 16-of-21 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense finished with a pair of sacks, five tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and intercepted a pair of passes.

Benedict's first drive went for 65 yards on 10 plays, with Phoenix finding Antavius Bradley-Searcy for a 6-yard scoring play. Benedict pulled ahead 14-0 in the second quarter after the Tigers recovered an Allen fumble at the 25-yard line, then Phoenix found freshman Anderson Aldridge for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

The Yellow Jackets scored on the next drive to cut the lead to 14-6. On Benedict's next series, Phoenix was intercepted deep in Allen territory. The Yellow Jackets took over at their own 2-yard line. Allen quarterback David Wright was picked off by Fern Romero III, who only had to go one yard for a touchdown and a 21-6 lead.

The Tigers increased the lead to 28-6 in the third quarter when Phoenix started the half with a 46-yard pass to Jayden Thomas, then completed the 71-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard pass to Christopher Williams II. A 5-yard touchdown run by Jayden McCloud later in the quarter gave Benedict a 35-6 lead. Rigoberto Tinoco added a 20-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and freshman running back Jaylen Taylor closed out the Tiger scoring with a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.

"Wins are hard to come by. Any time you get a win, you feel proud of your team and your coaches for the effort. We've just got to keep getting better," Berry said.

Berry's biggest criticism of his team was the Tigers were penalized 14 times for 137 yards.

"That was the biggest thing, the penalties. We've got to clean up the penalties. I pride myself on discipline, so we've got to clean those up. Once we clean up those penalties, we've got a chance to be a pretty good football team," Berry said. "We had some self-inflicted negatives. In order to beat those good football teams as you go forward, you can't shoot yourself in the foot with penalties."

The Tigers, now 1-0, will have a short turnaround. Benedict plays Edward Waters College, another newcomer to the SIAC, on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

"We'll enjoy the victory for 24 hours. After 24 hours, we'll start to plan for Edward Waters University," Berry said.

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