ORANGEBURG, S.C. - If South Carolina State's inability to score in the red zone wasn't evident throughout the game, it was put on center stage as time ran out against Savannah State.
A wide-open Johnny Allen dropped a pass at the 1-yard line from Brett Young on fourth-and-goal with two seconds remaining, giving the Tigers a 14-9 victory Saturday night at Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium.
The victory was Savannah State's (1-1) first ever against South Carolina State (1-1) in eight tries. The Bulldogs outgained the Tigers in total yards 380-258, but failed to score when within 10 yards of the end zone three times.
"We practice that situation every day," said South Carolina State offensive coordinator Daryl McNeil, who left Savannah State in 1999 to come to Orangeburg.
"And we finally got what we wanted, we just didn't execute the catch. Allen is one of our best receivers. He just dropped the ball. But I'm real happy for them (Savannah State). I recruited a lot of those players and it's good to see the program where it's at."
The Tigers came into the game nursing the wounds from a 69-6 thrashing to defending I-AA national champion Georgia Southern while the Bulldogs were riding high after a 21-7 victory over Morris Brown.
Savannah State senior quarterback Jermaine Brooks, who rushed for 90 yards, abused the Bulldogs defense through the first quarter and a half before finishing with 83 yards passing and 99 yards rushing.
The former Josey standout was unstoppable in the first 16 minutes, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He also threw for 75 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-9 attempts.
"I knew they would eventually adjust to what I was doing, but the defense pulled it through," Brooks said. "Georgia Southern put it on us, so we used that as a stepping stone to get better. This was meant to be. It couldn't be taken away from us."
In the first quarter, Brooks orchestrated a 43-yard scoring drive after Greg Grant recovered a fumble by South Carolina State's Brett Young. Brooks hit tight end Latrivus Johnson for a 16-yard first down on third down to keep the drive alive.
Two plays later, Brooks broke through the line on an option keeper and rambled 19 yards for the opening touchdown, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead after a Franc Kyren extra point kick.
The Bulldogs moved to a first-and-goal at the Tigers 7-yard-line on the ensuing possession, but failed to score and turned the ball over after Guy Depalo missed wide left on a 25-yard field goal.
On the first play of the second period, Brooks dropped back and connected with Mario Belton for the 3-yard touchdown, capping a 10-play, 80 yard drive in which Brooks accounted for all 80 yards.
The Bulldogs found themselves with another scoring opportunity when Savannah State running back Alvin Cummings fumbled and Andrekas Pooler recovered at the Tigers 30.
South Carolina State advanced inside the Tigers 10, but running back Kambui Maxwell fumbled at the 8 and gave the ball back to Savannah State on Dele Afolobi's recovery.
The Tigers suffered a safety after punter Nicholas Hudson bobbled the snap and threw the ball out the back of the end zone, making it 14-2 heading into halftime.
The Bulldogs finally reached the end zone in the third quarter when Young got things started with a 62-yard bomb to Terrance Metcalf. Maxwell went around the corner for a 5-yard touchdown three plays later to cut the lead to 14-9.