Kentucky State’s football team had already made history this season with wins over two NCAA Division I teams.
But the 2-2 Thorobreds were still looking for their first Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory since beating Lane College 35-2 on Oct. 28, 2017.
KSU broke that winless streak Saturday with a 35-24 victory over SIAC foe Clark Atlanta in Saturday’s homecoming game at Alumni Stadium.
“Priority No. 1 was get the victory,” KSU coach Charlie Jackson said. “Today we started seven freshmen on defense, and it’s always great to get a victory while you’re growing.”
The first half was a low-scoring affair with the only touchdown coming on a 35-yard pass from Isaac Fields to Jonathan Powell with 1:52 to go in the second quarter.
That gave KSU a 7-0 lead at halftime.
The Panthers, 0-6 overall and 0-2 in the SIAC, tied the game less than four minutes into the second half on an 8-yard pass from Charles Stafford to Darius Blackburn.
Kentucky State looked to be in good shape with a 28-10 lead with 5:34 left in the game, but the two teams combined to score three touchdowns in the final 2:31, two for the Panthers and one for KSU.
Clark Atlanta never got closer than 10 points in the final 2½ minutes.
“Our players did what they needed to from a mental perspective and a physical perspective during the week to prepare,” Jackson said, “and they came out in front of this awesome crowd, all the alum, and they fed off that energy.”
KSU’s Brett Sylve rushed for 162 yards that included touchdown runs of 5, 8 and 41 yards. Christopher Coneway scored the Thorobreds’ other touchdown on a 1-yard run, and Michael Bobak went 5-for-5 on point-after kicks.
Stafford, Clark Atlanta’s quarterback, went 22-for-40 for 343 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception.
Kentucky State’s Xavier Johnson picked off a Stafford pass at the KSU 30-yard line with 4:34 left in the game and the Thorobreds leading 28-10.
“I just went with what my coach gave me,” Johnson said. “I saw the receiver go out, and I went.”
KSU is now 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the SIAC. The Thorobreds have another conference game Saturday at Lane College.
“We’ll enjoy it (the win) this weekend,” Jackson said, “and then we’ll rock and roll and get ready for next week.”