Kentucky State’s football team got just what it needed — an opponent and a victory.
KSU opened its season at home Thursday night with a 41-21 win over Kentucky Wesleyan.
“We had to go see some live competition and get on film to see where we’re at,” KSU coach Josh Dean said. “I saw some mistakes, but we’ll look at the film and see what we need to do.”
The Thorobreds opened the scoring with a 39-yard field goal by Cade Berryman with 9:11 left in the first quarter.
Just over a minute later KSU’s Jeremy Lewis returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown to give the Thorobreds a 10-0 lead.
KWC’s Nick O’Brien scored on a 4-yard pass from Dalton Oliver, making the score 10-7 after the first quarter.
Berryman, who was 5-for-5 on point-after attempts, kicked his second field goal from 35 yards out early in the second quarter, and Justin Williams had a 9-yard touchdown run to give KSU a 20-7 halftime lead.
Williams, who rushed for 432 yards last year, is nearly halfway to that total after Thursday’s game.
The senior running back carried the ball 14 times and finished with 192 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 13.7 yards per carry.
His most impressive run came just 20 seconds into the second half, when he appeared to be heading out of bounds in front of the Wesleyan bench.
Instead he spun away from the defense and went 59 yards for a touchdown, putting KSU ahead 27-7.
“One thing I’ve been saying is Justin Williams is back to being the Justin he was a couple of years ago,” Dean said. “One thing is he’s attacking downhill and then making adjustments instead of making adjustments side to side.”
Senior Jacquise Lockett, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, had 89 yards Thursday.
“It’s 1A and 1B with Jacquise and Jeremy,” Dean said, “and tonight Justin was 1A.”
KSU’s defense kept the Panthers’ running game in check, giving up just 56 yards on the ground, but Oliver completed 24 passes out of 48 attempts for 284 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
“People got after it,” Dean said, “but we’re not very deep on defense and we’re inexperienced in some areas. We have several first-year starters.
“We don’t have a lot of depth on defense, but we do have a lot of talent.”
After Williams’ 59-yard scoring run, the two teams traded touchdowns the rest of the way.
Keelan Cole caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Oliver, and KSU countered with Adam Robinson hitting James Happy with an 8-yard scoring pass.
Xavier Mitchell closed out the Panthers’ scoring on a 60-yard pass from Oliver early in the fourth quarter for a 34-21 score, and Robinson crossed the goal line from 1 yard out on a quarterback keeper to make the final score 41-21.
Robinson finished with 123 yards passing, going 11 for 22 with one interception.
Kentucky State’s leading tacklers were Trevon Spencer with 6.5, Terry Horton with 5.5 and Deshon Floyd with five tackles.
KSU plays its next game Sept. 13 at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte, N.C.
“We need to clean up some things,” Dean said, “but I’m confident we’ll be doing that in the next week.”
To see more photos from this game, click here.