Courtesy of The Citadel Athletics
CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Citadel defense, led by defensive back Cortez Allen and safety Demetrius Jackson, scored 18 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 56-14 victory over the Chowan Hawks in the Bulldog season-opener on Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Turnovers plagued the Hawks as the Bulldog defense scored off of four-of- five Chowan miscues in the first half, sending The Citadel into halftime with a modern era record of 49 points in the first half. The Citadel scored 28 points in final 91 seconds of the half, as Hawk quarterback Cameron Stover accounted for all four of those turnovers. Bulldog freshman quarterback Matt Thompson passed 5-of-6 for 127 yards and three touchdowns with eight carries for 70 yards and a TD.
Opening the game, The Citadel won the toss and opted to receive the ball first with freshman Ben Dupree heading the Bulldog offense for his collegiate debut. However, The Citadel was unable to convert the drive into a score, going three-and-out while taking 2:11 off the clock.
The defense, however, got the Bulldogs going by putting the first points on the board when Allen snatched a Stover pass for an interception on the first play of the Hawks' first possession and returned it for a 7-yard touchdown run with 12:42 on the game clock. Two plays later, Jonathan Glaspie recorded the defense's second interception of the game within 53 seconds when he broke up a Stover pass on the Chowan 40-yard line and returned it 21 yards.
However, running back Van Dyke Jones coughed up the ball on the next play and the Hawks regained possession on their 12-yard line with11:37 on the game clock. Unable to convert the drive into a score, the Hawks brought out the punt crew with just under 10 minutes left in the quarter.
Both teams remained scoreless until Thompson made his collegiate debut under the 12-minute mark in the second quarter and opened up the scoring for the Bulldog offense. Three plays into the drive, Thompson, on a fake handoff, found receiver Alex Carr for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 9:56 on the clock. The touchdown marked a career first for both quarterback and receiver and gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
On the next possession, Chowan, for the second time in the game, advanced to The Citadel 1-yard line and again was backed up due to a false start penalty. Forced to attempt a field goal, Joey Gargiulo's 21-yard attempt was blocked by Demarrio Sims and picked up on the 26-yard line by Demetrius Jackson who returned it 74 yards for the score. Sam Keeler's kick was good and the Bulldogs extended their lead to 21-0 with 4:56 left in the second.
Thompson remained in the game and on the next Bulldog possession found receiver Dominic Jones for a 42-yard pass, putting the Bulldogs in scoring position on the Chowan 20 with just under two minutes left in the half. Two plays later, junior fullback Terrell Dallas ran straight up the middle for an18-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left in the half, giving The Citadel a 28-0 lead.
Eighteen seconds later, in the first play of the Hawk's next drive, Jackson intercepted a Stover pass at The Citadel 48-yard line and returned it 52 yards for his second TD of the game, putting the Bulldogs up 35-0. Chowan immediately turned the ball over again in the first play from scrimmage on the next possession when Stover fumbled the ball at the end of a 29-yard run. It was recovered by Bulldog Chris Billingslea on the 29-yard line and the Bulldogs took over with 1:00 left in the second quarter.
Thompson again put the Bulldogs in scoring position when he ran up the middle for 19 yards, before he found Jones for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds left on the clock. The Citadel's first half scoring did not end there as Chowan's Corne Tomlinson fumbled on the kickoff return at the Hawks' 42-yard line. Tyler Starnes recovered the ball for the Bulldogs and The Citadel found themselves in scoring position once again with 37 seconds left in the half.
Thompson completed his third pass of the game to tight end Alex Sellars for a 37-yard gain at the Chowan 5-yard line before Thompson completed a post pass to Domonic Jones for the final score of the half. The Citadel went into halftime with a 49-0 lead.
Chowan ended the shutout immediately at the start of the second half, scoring on back-to-back possessions. The first score came in the opening drive when the Hawks advanced 60 yards in five plays, capped off with an Elliott Smalls 21-yard rushing touchdown with 12:23 on the clock. After forcing a three-and-out on the Bulldogs' next possession, Chowan recorded their longest drive of the game, going 81 yards in eight plays, taking 4:12 off the clock. The Hawks narrowed the margin on a Stover 17-yard touchdown pass to Mic Satterwhite with 6:05 left in the second to make the score, 49-14.
That, however, would be the final score for Chowan as The Citadel defense shut them out for the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs scored for the final time when Thompson rushed 12 yards over Chowan's right tackle for a touchdown with 6:05 left in the third. Ryan Sellers kicked the extra point for the Bulldogs and it was good, sending the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter with a 56-14 lead.
Redshirt freshman Sam Martin, who also made his collegiate debut at quarterback, ran the last drive for the Bulldogs, but took a knee on the Chowan 1-yard line after six plays to end the game, 56-14.
The Citadel's new triple option offense totaled 374 yards of offense, going 5-of-6 for 247 yards in the air and 258 yards on the ground on 52 carries. The Bulldog offense turned the ball over twice, while the Hawks suffered on the offensive end with six turnovers. The Citadel freshmen posted impressive numbers led by Thompson and Jones, who totaled three catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
Stover completed 16-of-26 passes with four interceptions for 245 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked six times, three for a loss of 18-yards by defensive end Erik Clanton, who also led the Bulldogs defense in tackles with seven, four for a loss of 22 yards.
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday, Sept. 11 as they head across the country to face Arizona for a 10 p.m. (ET) start in Tucson, Ariz. Stay current on Bulldog Football at CitadelSports.com.