Tusculum football falls 24-10 at Virginia State in first road test of 2016

Tusculum football falls 24-10 at Virginia State in first road test of 2016

ETTRICK, Va. --- Kavon Bellamy rushed for 135 yards on 20 carries to lead the Virginia State University football team to a 24-10 victory over Tusculum College Saturday afternoon at Rogers Stadium.

Virginia State (2-0) recorded 302 yards offensively, including 271 rushing. Tusculum (0-2) finished the game with 218 yards, including 160 on the ground for the Pioneers.

Tusculum junior Isaac Robinson rushed for 65 yards on seven carries, including a 38-yard scamper to set up a TC touchdown in the third quarter.  Jordon Shippy had 10 rushes for 48 yards while Josh Jackson totaled 47 rushing yards on nine carries.

True freshman quarterback Ben Skradski made his collegiate debut in the start for the Pioneers as he went 6-of-17 for 58 yards and was intercepted three times on the afternoon.

The Pioneers got on the board late in the opening quarter as the Tusculum defense stopped a VSU drive deep into TC territory as the Trojans tried to convert on fourth down and four yards to go at the TC 23, but Tarian Ayres pass was incomplete turning the football over on downs.

Skradski completed a pair of long passes on a pair of third down conversions, including an 18-yard pass to Eric Lynch on third-and-14 and an 11-yard completion to Nick England on third-and-five.  The drive stalled at the VSU 11 before Jose Esparza came about and made a 26-yard field goal for a 3-0 TC lead with 2:31 left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Virginia State marched down the field and used a 10-play, 62-yard drive that covered 4:05 and capped off by a four-yard TD run by Trenton Cannon to give the Trojans the lead.  Matthew Hillquist added the extra point for a 7-3 VSU lead with 8:35 remaining in the half.

The Pioneers went three plays and out on their next possession as VSU took over at their own 24-yard line.  The Trojans put together a nine-play, 76-yard drive as Ayres scored on a quarterback keeper for a one-yard touchdown with 1:50 left before intermission.  VSU would carry the 14-3 lead into the locker room.

Both teams had to punt on their first possessions of the second half.  Robinson gave the Pioneers a lift on their second time with the football as he ran 38 yards to the VSU 3 on a run which he literally came out of both of his shoes.  On the ensuing play, Shippy fumbled the football before crossing the goal line, but freshman offensive tackle Keveon Broadwater fell on the loose football in the end zone for the Tusculum touchdown.  Esparza's kick was good as TC trimmed the deficit to 14-10 in the third quarter.

Later in the quarter, Virginia State took over in great field position after an errant punt into a very heavy wind, going out of bounds at the TC 38.  The Tusculum defense held on third and short inside the five-yard line.  Hillquist came aboard and connected on a 20-yard field goal to extend the VSU lead to 17-10 early in the fourth quarter.

The two teams exchanged punts again but with 9:50 remaining, Skradski was intercepted by Trevon Byron as he returned the pick for a 20-yard touchdown for a 24-10 VSU advantage.

Cameron Thomas led the Tusculum defense with nine tackles, including seven solo hits, while the duo of L'Keith Brown and Brandyn Bartlett added seven tackles each. TC newcomer Chris Matheus tallied six tackles, including two for loss and a sack, while the trio of Jitu Booker, Brandon Williams and Martez Thompkins accounted for five stops apiece.

VSU's Geo Feggins and Trevon Bryon tallied six tackles each for the Trojans.

Tusculum will open South Atlantic Conference play next Saturday as the Pioneers travel to Hickory, North Carolina to face Lenoir-Rhyne University (0-2) for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Moretz Stadium.