Braves win fifth Two Rivers Classic
By Jonathan Bym Managing Editor
September 26, 2013
|Photo by Jonathan Bym
Sophomore wide out John Rich catches a pass from Luke Charles in the Two Rivers Classic. Rich scored three times versus the Broncos after not having any scoring receptions previously in his career.
Using a second half comeback and big plays on special teams, the UNCP football team won its fifth straight Two Rivers Classic against Fayetteville State by a 38-24 score on Sept. 14 in Fayetteville.
“For the program, this has been an amazing rivalry,” UNCP Head Coach Pete Shinnick said of the Two Rivers Classic.
“I love this rivalry. Except for one game, every game has come down to the wire,” senior quarterback Luke Charles said of the annual matchup versus Fayetteville State. “To be a part of it and come out 5-0 in my career, it’s really surreal.”
The Braves were fueled on the offensive side of the ball as Charles shattered the previous school records of completions, pass attempts, and pass yards, records that he previously held. Charles threw for 401 yards on 45-of-63 passing.
“We are very fortunate to have a senior quarterback that, when he needs to, can take control of the game like Luke did tonight,” Shinnick said.
Charles threw three touchdowns in the game as well with sophomore receiver John Rich on the receiving end of each of them. Prior to the game, Rich had never had a touchdown reception.
“It’s kind of shocking. All the hard work I’ve put in practice and to come out here and score, it’s shocking,” Rich said of his first time scoring as a member of the Braves.
Two of the touchdown grabs came in the third quarter as the Braves took over the lead. Rich’s final score of the game came in the final seconds of the third quarter on an eight-yard pass from Charles to give UNCP an 11-point advantage.
After allowing 24 first half points, the Black and Gold defense came out of the halftime break and held the Broncos scoreless and provided key tops for the offense. LJ Stroman, who was back after being disqualified from the Winston-Salem State game for targeting, came back in his first full game of the season to have a team-high eight tackles and an interception. Quentin Pate also had eight tackles for the game.
Stroman made an impact not only on the defensive side of the ball, but also in special teams as he opened up scoring for the game with a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown with less than six minutes remaining in the first half.
“He [Stroman] was huge. He stepped up and showed what he is capable of,” Shinnick said. “We knew he could be electric on punt returns and his interception was huge.”
The Braves then saw Fayetteville State score two touchdowns and a field goal to go up 17-7. Charles connected with Rich for a score with 3:23 left until halftime to cut the deficit. With 33 seconds remaining the Broncos were able to regain the 10-point cushion, as quarterback Jemeryn Jenkins ran in from 11 yards out for a touchdown making the score 24-14 at the intermission.
“We weren’t very worried; we just knew we had to come out with the right mindset and take over the game,” Rich said of the halftime adjustments.
The Broncos rushing attack proved to be a problem for the Braves in the game as Fayetteville State rushed for 126 yards, while UNCP’s running attack saw the opposite result with 23 yards on the ground for the game.
UNCP gained more yards on the ground in the second half and scored on a one-yard rush from Demetrius Fairley in the third to give the Braves the lead back at 28-24.
Receivers Ben DeCelle and BJ Bunn led the Braves in receiving as Charles connected with DeCelle for 110 yards and Bunn for 105 in the game.