Concordia nips Div. I Savannah St.

Published 12:02 am Sunday, September 27, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. — In one of its biggest victories in school history, Harrison Ellison booted a game-ending 35-yard field goal to back Larry Kerlegan’s 323 yards passing to lead Concordia College to a 23-21 win over Division I independent Savannah State on Saturday.

“This is our first time to beat a team of this caliber,” said Shepherd Skanes, whose Hornets (2-3) had played closed games against Alabama State (38-33), Shaw University (28-20) and Benedict College (24-13).

Concordia opened the season with a 68-0 blowout over Texas College.

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Kerlegan, who was called to start for injured T’Chelpio Woods, completed 28-of-44 passes for three touchdowns in the contest. Skanes praised the play of Kerlegan, a Grambling State transfer, and Fred Rouse, who has played at Florida State.

“This was a breakout game for Rouse,” he said. “He got involved in the game today.”

Rouse compiled 130 all-purpose yards to lead both teams. He had four pass receptions for 58 yards and one TD, along with 72 yards in two kick returns.

Concordia had 23 first downs in the game, 18 from passing.

Leading the rushing for both teams was Savannah State’s Justin Babb with 14 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown. SSU’s A.J. Defilippis added 41 yards on five carries.

Kerlegan paced the Hornets on the ground too with 44 yards on 12 totes. A.J. Ward led the Concordia receivers with eight catches for 67 yards and a score, followed by Jeremey Morris with 41 yards on four receptions with a score.

Savannah State opened the scoring in the first quarter when Babb rushed 13 yards for a TD with less than two minutes gone in the game. The PAT kick by Derek Williams put SSU up 7-0.

Both teams traded possessions until Concordia took over at the 2:01 mark in the first quarter at the Hornets’ 27. Behind a Kerlegan-to-Ward 39-yard pass and a 15-yard facemask penalty, The Hornets set up shop at the SSU 18 until the drive stalled at the SSU 16 with fourth and 8 yards.

But Kerlegan found Morris for the final 16 yards for the TD with 13 seconds left in the first quarter. Ellison tied the score at 7-7 with the point-after kick.

Savannah State scored in the second quarter on 23-yard pass from Defilippis to Byron Leggett at the 7:56 mark, and Williams booted the extra point. But Rouse returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the SSU 43 and the Hornets started their scoring drive.

Concordia went the 43 yards in four plays — passes to Ward (5 yards), Zakevian Rowell (12), Jordan Kelly (11) and Rouse (the final 20) — to go in at halftime with a 14-14 tie after Ellison’s PAT kick.

The Hornets opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a missed 25-yard field goal from Ellison at 11:03 in the stanza. And neither team could mount an offensive drive until Savannah State took over at the Concordia 38 to start the fourth quarter.

SSU covered the 38 yards for the TD in four plays, ending with a 14-yard toss from Defilippis to Babb. Williams’ kick at 9:26 to play gave SSU the 21-14 advantage.

Concordia responded on the next series with a 62-yard, nine-play drive that appeared to tie the game. Kerlegan again went on an aerial assault, passing for 62 yards. The highlight was the 27-yard toss to Ward down to the Savannah State 6. Ward caught the TD pass on the next play with 5:14 to play.

The PAT kick, however, by Ellison was blocked and Savannah State held a slim 21-20 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, SSU started at its own 26 and managed seven yards in three plays before being forced to punt. Concordia had the ball at its 18 with 3:05 to play.

Kerlegan again went to the air. With rushes of 18 yards and six passes for 46 yards, the Hornets set up for a field goal from the SSU 18-yard line.

Concordia called timeout with 10 seconds to play. Savannah State followed suit. Kerlegan tried one pass to Jordan Kelly that fell incomplete.

As the horn sounded, Ellison booted the 35-yard game-winner.

The landmark victory will be celebrated especially next Saturday when the University of New Orleans invades Memorial Stadium for Concordia College’s 2 p.m. homecoming festivities.