ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Sept. 29) – Wide receiver Lenwood Joyner (Sr./Miami, FL) scored three touchdowns and the Saint Augustine’s University defense forced four turnovers in a 24-17 Falcons’ football victory over Elizabeth City State University at Roebuck Stadium on Saturday.
The win was the first this season for the Falcons, who improved to 1-1 in the CIAA and 1-3 overall. Elizabeth City State, playing its first game in three weeks, dropped to 0-1 in the CIAA and 1-2 overall.
Led by Joyner’s three scores, the Falcons opened a 24-10 lead over the Vikings early in the third quarter. After ECSU pulled within seven points in the same quarter, the Falcons relied on their defense to hold off several scoring threats after the Vikings drove deep in SAU territory.
The defense made its biggest stop in the fourth quarter. The Vikings had first-and-goal at the SAU one-yard line, but a false start penalty moved the ball back to the six. On the next play, defensive tackle Tyler Trexler (So./Chesapeake, VA) deflected a pass which linebacker Joseph Harris, Jr. (Fr./Jacksonville, FL) caught in the air for an interception.
The Vikings gained possession twice more but never crossed midfield. Roy Garris, Jr. (Jr./Raleigh, NC) sealed the Falcons’ victory with an interception near midfield with under a minute left.
Head Coach Tim Chavous was glad to leave Roebuck Stadium with a victory.
“I am happy for the win,” Chavous said. “I am happy for the fellows. They worked hard all week.”
Chavous was especially proud of Joyner, a veteran starter who is having a breakout season. The three touchdowns were a career high for the speedy receiver in his collegiate career at SAU.
“The guys rallied behind him today and we got the victory,” Chavous said. “If we play well defensively and on special teams, then Lenwood can take us home.”
Joyner put the Falcons on the scoreboard early in the first quarter with an eight-yard touchdown catch from John Darby IV (Fr./Detroit, MI), who was making his second straight collegiate start. The key play in the scoring drive was a 57-yard pass from Darby to Desmond Smith (Sr./Richmond, VA). The Falcons led 7-0 after Sean Smith (Sr./Valdosta, GA) booted the extra point, but the Vikings tied the score 7-7 later in the quarter.
The Falcons regained the lead in the first quarter on an electrifying 66-yard punt return by Joyner, who started running left but reversed field after finding an opening. He was aided by two crushing blocks that lifted would-be tacklers off their feet that allowed him to run untouched into the end zone. Sean Smith’s extra point made the score 14-7 Falcons.
“I got a lot of good blocks on the punt return,” Joyner said. “Once I saw the hole open, I took off.”
The Vikings closed within 14-10 in the second quarter on a short field goal, but Darby connected with Desmond Smith on a short throw that Smith turned into a 39-yard gain at the ECSU 25. Smith broke a tackle and raced down the left sideline for the big gain before he was pushed out of bounds. The long pass play set up Sean Smith’s 24-yard field goal which gave the Falcons a 17-10 lead at halftime.
Joyner padded the Falcons’ lead early in the third quarter when he caught a slant pass from Darby and outran the ECSUsecondary for a 40-yard touchdown, his third of the day. The score was 24-10 after Sean Smith kicked the extra point.
His touchdown gave the Falcons the cushion they needed. The Vikings added a score in the third quarter to pull within 24-17 but the Falcons’ defense step up to hold off the hosts.
Joyner totaled 143 all-purpose yards for the Falcons including 56 receiving yards on four receptions while Smith led all receivers with three catches for 106 yards. Darby was efficient in his second straight start, completing 10 of 15 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The Falcons committed no turnovers in the game.
Trexler had a monster game for the Falcons on defense. He finished with six tackles including three sacks and a tipped pass which halted a potential game-tying drive. The three sacks by Trexler nearly tied the single-game school record of 4.5 sacks set by former SAU All-American and former NFL player Alex Hall in 2006.
Ahmek Henry (Jr./Charlotte, NC) added six tackles and Harris recorded five tackles and an interception. Sidney Lawson (So./Charlotte, NC) also picked off a pass for the Falcons, his second in two games.
The Falcons forced Vikings’ quarterback Kedrick Patterson into 13 of 31 passing for 194 yards and three interceptions. The defense also sacked Patterson four times.
Elizabeth City State almost struck first when the Vikings returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but a holding penalty negated the score.
The Falcons play their second straight road game next weekend. They visit Livingstone College in a CIAA Southern Division opener on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Salisbury, N.C. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m.