COLUMBIA, S.C. – Over the last two years, the Benedict College Tigers have become a national player in NCAA Division II college football.
Thursday night, the Tigers will be on display for the entire country, when they host Fort Valley State in a nationally-televised matchup on ESPN2 in a battle for the top spot in the SIAC. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. from Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
“What a great environment,” said Benedict head coach Chennis Berry about the opportunity to appear on ESPN2. “I’m so excited about Tiger nation coming out and supporting us. A lot of living rooms will get a chance to tune in. This is important not only for two institutions, but representing HBCU football and putting a good brand out there. This is great marketing for our whole entire college. And not just showing what Benedict football is doing, but for our college to show you can come to a great place, a great institution of higher learning and have an opportunity for potential students to chose Benedict College. We’ll get a chance to showcase our great brand, The Best of BC, and showcase our great stadium and our great fan base, which is why we want to make sure everybody is there. And just for recruiting in general. In living rooms all across the country, young students athletes who are choosing where they’re going to go to school, and may be considering an HBCU, will get an opportunity to see the product we have. So I’m super excited for the fruits of our labor to be shown for the world to see.”
The Tigers, ranked 11th in the AFCA Coaches Poll and 12th in the D2football.com media poll, are 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the SIAC. They have not lost a regular-season football game in two years, a span of 19 straight games. Fort Valley State comes into the contest on a five-game winning streak, 5-1 overall and 5-0 in the SIAC. The Wildcats lost their season-opener to Tuskegee in the annual Red Tails Classic, but the game did not count in the SIAC standings.
Thursday night’s clash will pit the Purple Swarm, the nation’s best defense, against a potent Wildcat offense. Benedict leads Division II in most defensive categories, including scoring (6.2 points per game), total defense (164.3 yards per game), passing yards allowed (109 yards per game), team sacks, team tackles for loss and red zone defense. They ranked third in the country in rushing yards allowed (55.3 yards per game).
They will be challenged to stop a Fort Valley State offense that averages 368.8 yards per game, including more than 225 yards per game through the air. They average 143 yards per game on the ground, and have an offensive line that gives up few sacks and tackles for loss. Defensively, the Wildcats are giving up more than 350 yards per game, but have intercepted 12 passes, which leads the SIAC and is fourth-best in the country. They are also giving up less than 80 yards per game rushing.
Source: Benedict Athletics