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Savannah State 41; Benedict 34

The Savannah State football team opened the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference portion of their schedule with an exciting 41-41 win over visiting Benedict in a game played at T. A. Wright Stadium on September 18, 2021.

SSU held a commanding

34-13 lead early in the third quarter but Benedict stormed back to tie the game at 34 with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, thanks to a five yard touchdown run by Savannah native Eric Phoenix.

On the following Savannah State possession, the home-standing Tigers drove the ball 65-yards in seven plays as quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons scored on a 31-yard run for the game-winning score with 1:24 remaining.

Benedict tried to answer as Phoenix navigated Benedict from their own 25 to the SSU 28. Faced with a third and ten, Phoenix had his pass intercepted by Savannah State’s LeVonte Larry at the four yard line with 13 seconds left to seal the win.

D’Vonn Gibbons
D’Vonn Gibbons

Both teams are now 2-1 overall but Savannah State is 1-0 in conference play while Benedict is 0-1. The victory also extends SSU home winning streak to six games, dating back to the 2019 season.

SSU led 14-0 in the first quarter after a pair of touchdown runs of 13 and three yards by D’Angelo Durham before Phoenix got Benedict on the scoreboard with a one yard run. A 51- yard field goal by Kenneth Lockhart extended SSU’s lead to 17-7 with 1:14 left in the opening quarter.

The squads traded scores in the second quarter with Lyons, Georgia native Rigoberto Tinoco kicking field goals of 40 and 32 yards for Benedict while Savannah State countered with a 11-yard touchdown run by DeMarion Colbert and a 30- yard field goal by Lockhart as time expired to send SSU into intermission with a 27- 13 advantage.

Gibbons scored on a 15 yard run with 11:15 remaining in the third quarter to increase SSU’s lead to 34-13 but the visitors from Columbia, South Carolina closed the quarter with two scores as Steve Campbell scored on a five yard touchdown run, Joshua Heyward scored on a 30-yard fumble recovery to slice SSU’s lead to 34-27. On their second drive of the final quarter Phoenix engineered a nine play, 65 yard drive that tied the game at 34.

LeVonte Larry
LeVonte Larry

Gibbons led SSU’s option style offense with 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns while completing two of seven pass attempts for 45 yards. Durham added 62 rushing yards and a pair of touchdown. Einaj Carter (45 yards) and Brent Carr (32 yards) each had a reception while Marvin Grunshie, a transfer from Virginia University at Lynchberg, led the SSU defense with eight tackles and a interception. Lockhart booted two field goals and made all five of his extra point attempts. The Hinesville, Georgia native also punted four times, averaging 48.5 yards per punt.

The contest was a homecoming for first-year Benedict head coach Chennis Berry and Phoenix.

Berry came to Savannah State as a 6-3, 243-pound tight end from Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1991 and left as a All-SIAC offensive tackle and Black College All American honorable mention. He was also a member of the 1992 squad that earned a spot in the Division II playoffs. Berry started his coaching career as a student assistant in 1995 and along the way has had stops at Morris Brown, Kentucky State, Fort Valley State, Howard, North Carolina A&T and Southern University.

Imani Williamson
Imani Williamson

Phoenix ended the night with two interceptions and being sacked four times also gave Savannah State defenders fits as he passed for 306 yards and ran for a pair of touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 former Windsor Forest standout completed 21 of 36 pass attempts.

Savannah State will close out their three game home-stand against Morehouse on Sept. 25 at 6 p.m.

SSU Volleyball Tops Fort Valley State

After losing the first set

22-25, the Savannah State volleyball team won three straight sets to win their match against SIAC rival Fort Valley State, 3-1 on September 17 in Tiger Arena.

Stefen Banks
Stefen Banks

SSU won their three sets by scores of 25- 19, 28-26 and 26-24 as they improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

Imani Williamson led the Lady Tigers with 12 kills while Destinee Langston had 11. Jedeiah Daniels had five blocks. Caylen Samuel had 20 assists while Sydney Harvile added 17. Kloe Ludy had 23 digs while Langston had 15 and Williamson had 11.

Savannah State hosted College of Coastal Georgia on Sept. 14 and fell in three sets by scores of 9-25, 15-25 and 11-25. Ludy had 12 digs for SSU in the loss.

Banks Honored By CFL

Former Savannah State football player Stefen Banks was recently honored by the Canadian Football League for his outstanding play with the Calgary Stampeders.

In the Stampeders 32-16 road victory over the Edmonton Elks on September 11, Banks recorded three sacks, a fumble recovery and seven tackles. The 24-year-old Columbus, Ohio native was part of a Calgary defensive unit that held Edmonton to 266 yards of net offense. The sacks were the first three of Banks’ career and for the season he has 14 tackles in four games.

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