The Savannah State University Football fell to North Carolina A&T on Nov.10, with a final score of 28-12.
The eventful game included Senior Day and a battle between the Savannah State and NC A&T bands. Savannah State recognized 18 seniors for their outstanding accomplishments on and off the field.
Senior cornerback John Wilson said he saw his spot on the team as a leader. "I had to go all out every play. The young athletes looks up to me,” he said.
The Aggies took the lead 7-0 with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, when the A&T running back ran for a 11-yard touchdown.
In a game riddled with penalties, including the rejection for personal foul of senior corner back Darrell “Vanquez” Bonner, the Tigers were in a tough position at half.
"We kept battling, despite being down by 21, but we shoot ourselves in the foot too much," Coach Erik Raeburn said in the SSU Athletics recap of the game. "We're just not good enough to overcome the constant penalties and the mental mistakes we're making."
In the third quarter, Savannah State’s quarterback D'Vonn Gibbons made a 10-yard touchdown through senior Paris Baker cutting the lead to 21-6.
With 6:14 left in the fourth quarter, SSU added a touchdown when Gibbons connected with senior tight end Tyler Hagan for a 4-yard touchdown in the back of the endzone, making the score 21-12. Gibbons’ pass for a two-point conversion failed.
The field saw penalty flags throughout the second half. SSU right tacklet Michael Johnson was penalized for holding and Aggies Deion Jones was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for hitting out of bounds.
NC A&T’s quarterback Kylil Carter ran the middle for a 27-yard touchdown with 5 minutes left in the game, bringing the score to its final 28-12.
Gibbons finished the game 11-of-24 passing completions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Rashad Saxton ran 16 times for a team high 54 yards.
Freshman linebacker Walter Yates produced a game high with 11 tackles. Yates’ personal record was set with 13 tackles in the Tigers’ game at Delaware State on Nov. 3.
“I’m trying to come out here and give the team the best I could, and just do what God gave me the ability to do,” Yates said.
As the team looks to next season and leadership changes, as well as division changes, Yates said he hoped to see the group focus better.
"Just getting there as a team. The seniors had a great leadership,” Yates said. “We should come back next year with the same amount of energy and focus."
Combined, the Tigers ran 42 times for 101 yards without a touchdown compared to the Aggies’ 39 carries for 274 yards and three touchdowns.
As he prepares to leave Savannah State, senior quarterback David Handler said he hoped the team would improve next year.
“Next year, I think next year the team will do very well,” he said. “Since I’ve been here the team has grown and got better."
The Tigers will close out the season facing South Carolina State in Orangeburg, S.C., Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m. The game will be on ESPN3.