The Statesmen lost their 2012 season opener last week as they fell to Fort Valley State University 31-23, while the Vikings lost their first game to Newberry 46-20. Both teams will be looking to get that all-important first win of the season.
These two teams are no strangers to each other. Delta State defeated Elizabeth City State 28-23 in overtime last year at Parker Field-McCool Stadium to begin the 2011 season. Last year, Delta State went 11-3 with a trip to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs, while Elizabeth City went 8-4 and with a trip to the first round of the playoffs. DSU is currently 2-0 lifetime against Elizabeth City.
“I think they’re going to be better than Fort Valley,” Delta State head football coach Jamey Chadwell said. “I think they’re going to be better physically and athletically. I think it is even more of a challenge with us going on the road with some of our new guys.”
Elizabeth City actually outgained Newberry in total yards 423-356, but turnovers killed the Vikings as they committed four in the contest. Senior running back Daronte McNeill led the Vikings’ ground game with 124 yards on 24 carries, while senior quarterback Namon Jones completed 24-of-44 passes for 274 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Junior defensive back Nigel Rios led ECSU’s defense with six tackles, including two for a loss of yardage.
In Saturday’s game against Fort Valley State University, Delta State was in control for the first three quarter as the team controlled the clock and held a 23-9 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the win. FVSU was able to control the ball as its time of possession was 10 minutes and 46 seconds in the fourth quarter, while Delta State’s time of possession was four minutes and 14 seconds.
“I think in the fourth some fatique just jumped on us, and we just started making some mental errors that we really hadn’t up to that time,” Chadwell said. “We ran some wrong routes and protection things and it sort of snowballed. It really looked like we stopped doing things that allowed us to move the football. As a coach calling the plays, I’ve got to find a way to make it better and get us in some better situations too.”
Despite the loss, the Statesmen got some strong individual performances. Quarterback Trevor Wooden completed 13-of-25 passes for 167 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and rushed for 49 yards on 12 carries. Sophomore linebacker Rory Island had a good game on defense as he recorded five tackles including two sacks.
The game will also give the Statesmen plenty of time to develop team unity as the Elizabeth City is located approximately 1,000 miles away from Cleveland.
Chadwell feels the trip will be good for the team.
“When your backs are against the wall a little bit, it’s good to maybe get away from your comfort zone to where it’s only us and the coaching staff and being together in the hotel rooms,” Chadwell said. “I think that will allow us to continue to grow and continue to know each other and where we feel like it might be a mentality of us against the world.
“I think that will give the guys the opportunity to bound and enjoy the time together. It’s going to be a challenge, but the guys will be hungry to get back out and prove we’re a good team.”
Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CST.