By Zack Ciboth, Sports Editor
The UNC Pembroke football team was defeated by the Charleston (WV) Golden Eagles Saturday afternoon in Mountain East conference play. Going down early at halftime the Braves attempted to make a comeback but fell just short at home as the Golden Eagles took the victory on the road 37-29.
” I thought the kids battled, was proud of their effort in the second half. We had every opportunity to quit down 24-3 but the guys stayed resilient, and we started making some plays in the second half so I’m extremely proud of that. So, I think there are a lot of good things to build of so looking forward to seeing that Monday,” UNCP football coach Mark Hall said.
Both defenses started out strong with the Golden Eagles forcing a three-and-out, but the Braves were able to force the Golden Eagles to kick a field goal taking the early 3-0 lead after a 31-yard field goal from Noah Benson. After another stop by the Golden Eagles, Charleston was able to find the endzone on a Javonte Howard 52-yard touchdown pass to Tae Marrero to make it 10-0 Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles extended their lead in the second quarter when Howard found another receiver open, this time Yves Bosmans 21-yards out to make it 17-0. The Braves were able to finally get in the board in the form of a 26-yard field goal from Ty Woods. Charleston led UNCP 17-3 at halftime.
“Realistically we’re not a tempo offense, we practiced it all week for the first time, so we wanted to try and get something going so we knew Colin was going to play in the second half and we said that we’re going to play fast, and we did that just got down there and came up one play short,” Hall said.
The second half saw the Golden Eagles add to their lead on a 21-yard rushing touchdown by Alex Brink making it 24-3 early in the third. Braves found the endzone on a JaQuan Kelly touchdown run up the middle and they were able to make it 24-11 after a successful two-point conversion by Colin Johnson. The Golden Eagles responded on a Howard to Bosmans connection 22-yards out to make it 31-11. The Braves responded though on a quarterback keeper by Johnson 17-yards out to make it 31-17. The defense of the Braves forced a fumble which was recovered by UNCP Caleb Hester put the Black and Gold back on offense which they took advantage of on 23-yard touchdown pass to EJ Gatling to make it 31-23 after a missed PAT to end the third quarter.
The Golden Eagles made it 34-23 after having to settle for a 35-yard field goal. The Braves cut the lead down to 34-29 after Johnson found Tobias in the endzone one more time for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles made it 37-29 after another field goal leaving the Braves with one more shot. The Braves went for the pass, but Johnson’s pass was tipped and was intercepted to end the game.
Johnson finished 18-for-33 passing attempts throwing for 230 yards and rushing for 114. Trey Dixon and Tobias had 70 yards each receiving, and Antonio Crim rushed on the ground for 47 yards. On the defensive side Sean Hill finished with 13 tackles.
The Braves (1-2, 0-2 MEC) will travel to West Liberty (0-3, 0-2 MEC) in West Virigina. Kickoff set for Saturday at 1 p.m.