Everything seemed to go right for the UNCP football team on Sept. 9 as they cruised to a 66-14 win on the road against Elizabeth City State.
UNCP (1-1) utilized its multifaceted rushing attack to outgain the Vikings 253-52 on the ground. The Braves also held a 442-245 advantage in total offensive yards.
Miles Grant and Josh Sheridan rushed for 95 and 50 yards respectively, with both registering a touchdown. Brian Staton tallied 48 yards and a pair of scores.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dominick Samson finished 15 for 29 with 187 yards and three touchdowns for the Braves in his second collegiate start.
UNCP’s defense proved to be a key factor in the win. The Braves tallied nine sacks, falling one short of the school record. Donovan Wirt led the way with three of those sacks, while Khalil Vance earned two of his own.
The Braves scored early and often to take a 38-14 lead at halftime.
UNCP’s Alex Alvarado put the visitors on the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal on their first drive of the game. After turning the ball over on downs and being forced to punt in ensuing possessions, Sheridan found his way into the endzone with a 4-yard run late in the first quarter.
Staton notched the first of his trio of scores less than two minutes into the second quarter on a 16-yard rush. Samson followed by notching UNCP’s first score through the air on a 20-yard pass to Ronald Porter.
ECSU would respond with two touchdowns before halftime. The first came when quarterback Daquan Neal and David Watford connected for a 40-yard score, and the second came in the form of a 23-yard toss from Neal to Sayquan Holder.
However, UNCP added a pair of touchdowns from a run by Grant and reception by Aaron Whitaker to maintain their lead at halftime.
The Braves didn’t lose any momentum heading into the second half, picking up its first of two defensive touchdown less than five minutes into the third quarter. Alpha Lamin recovered an ECSU fumble and returned it 26 yards to extend UNCP’s lead to 45-14.
Jalen Nixon continued the surge with a 17-yard touchdown reception, and Staton closed out the third quarter scoring by breaking away for a 20-yard rush.
The final big play of the night came when Bikembe Kearney returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.