Savannah State holds off Benedict in dramatic battle of SIAC powerhouses


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – For the first time this season, the Savannah State football team found itself in a nail-biter late. Driving with 90 seconds left in a tie ballgame, Savannah State quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons called his own number to score the go-ahead touchdown and transfer cornerback Le’Vonte Larry picked off Benedict in the final moments to preserve the 41-34 victory for Savannah State.

“Sometimes you just have to find a way to have one more than them and we had a great play down there by Le’Vonte Larry to seal the game for us and glad we got the ‘W’,” head coach Shawn Quinn said. “Give credit to [Benedict], man, those guys played hard. There were a lot of momentum swings, we had a chance to put it away and didn’t, they fought back. I’m glad, I’m proud of of our guys.”

Gibbons, who had been battling an injury and splitting snaps with J.T. Hartage through two games this season, played every down on offense Saturday night and turned in a vintage performance with 143 rushing yards on 20 carries.

“He’s been through a lot, he’s going to graduate and he wanted to be a ginger like me so he changed his hair,” Quinn said with a smile, gesturing towards Gibbon’s red hair. “I’m super proud of him. He’s what our program is all about. He could have duck tailed and left when I took over and he’s been here and stayed committed to us. I’m really thankful for you, man.”

When Savannah State needed him most, Gibbons kept the ball on an option play and delivered what ended up being the game-winning touchdown.

“My read told me to pull it, I made this cut and I saw this green grass. I knew I was faster than everybody,” Gibbons said, explaining the 31-yard score. “I probably don’t show it a lot, but I’m very excited right now.”

“Deservedly so, deservedly so,” Quinn added right after Gibbons. “He’s all about what we are about and I can’t say anything more about him or else I might start crying.”

Savannah State (2-1) will wrap up its three-game homestand next Saturday evening against Morehouse College. Kickoff at T.A. Wright Stadium is set for 6 p.m.

Former Coastal Empire star shines for Benedict

The night may have belonged to Savannah State, but Benedict doesn’t erase the 21-point deficit without the heroics of former Windsor Forest standout Eric Phoenix.

Phoenix, a junior quarterback for Benedict, finished with two rushing touchdowns on the day and more than 300 yards through the air. His second rushing touchdown, a 5-yard run in which he made several defenders miss, tied the game at 34 late in the fourth quarter and showcased what makes him so dangerous at the position.

With the game being held in Savannah this year, the Phoenix family was able to make the commute with ease. Donning the purple and gold to cheer on their son was an easy choice, but Phoenix’s parents are Savannah State alums and couldn’t help but smile when asked about being in the away bleachers.

“It’s weird being on this side for the first time, but I’m just excited for Eric and the opportunity he has and I want to enjoy it,” Gene Phoenix added. “He was just so excited to see some of his friends that he played with and against in the 912. He’s happy to go against them.”

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