Kentucky State University football came up short in its 2017 season finale against NCAA Division I, Southwestern Athletic Conference member Alabama A&M in a 21-13 loss on Saturday afternoon at Louis Crew Stadium.
The Thorobreds (3-8) ended the season losing back-to-back games against Benedict College and AAMU, falling one game shy of matching last year’s win total. The Bulldogs (4-7) also but a capper on their season, snapping a three-game losing streak.
KSU struck first with a 29-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Michael Simpson to junior wideout Demetrius Anderson to put the visiting squad up 7-0 at 13:15 mark of the second quarter. The Bulldogs answered later in the quarter on a one-yard touchdown run.
As the second quarter ended, freshman kicker Mahireyaa Kao lined up for a 30-yard field goal try to give KSU the lead. Instead, the Thorobreds reached into their bag of tricks and called an audible. Junior weapon Cort Groathouse took the snap as the holder and broke to the right, Kao followed suit, accepting a pitch and running in for 13-yard touchdown run, giving the green and gold a 13-7 halftime advantage. The special team’s score was the seventh touchdown of the season, two called on fake field goal attempts, while five others were off of kick returns and punt returns.
The KSU defense stayed intact in the second half, but allowed a field goal in the third, followed by a touchdown in the fourth. The Thorobreds’ offense failed to put points on the board in the final two quarters, for a 21-13 final.
Junior linebacker Matthew Bizimana led the defense with 11 tackles, including one tackle for a loss. Sophomore defensive tackle Chris Roberts continued to be a monster in the middle, accounting for nine tackles, two for a loss, and his fourth sack of the season. An all-conference selection, senior defensive end Rodriquez Jones wrapped up his last career game with seven tackles, one and a half tackles for a loss, and his team-leading fifth sack of the season.
Simpson concluded his third consecutive start by going 5-of-16 through the air for 71 yards and a touchdown while leading the team in rushing yards with 24 yards. Sophomore running Brett Sylve came nine yards short of 1,000 on the year with 21 yards on the day with 13 carries, finishing the season with 991 rushing yards.
by Eric Mathews