FAYETTEVILLE — Jemeryn Jenkins 11-yard scoring scamper 33 seconds left before halftime gave Fayetteville State a 24-14 lead heading into the break, but 22nd-ranked UNC Pembroke rattled off 24 unanswered points in the second half to turn back the upset-minded Broncos, 38-24, in the fifth annual Two Rivers Classic on Saturday evening.
The Braves (2-0) scored touchdowns on three of four possessions in the third quarter, and then added a 25-yard field goal from Lumberton native Connor Haskins to provide the final. The Black & Gold ran 81 plays on the night, including 63 passing plays.
“Fayetteville State had a fantastic game plan ready for us tonight,” said UNCP head coach Pete Shinnick. “We were very fortunate to still be in the game at halftime because they really put together a great first half. Our special teams played a huge part in what we were trying to do tonight, and then our offense started to click a little bit in the second half.”
Senior quarterback Luke Charles threw for a school record 401 yards and three touchdowns, while also shattering his own marks for passing attempts (63) and completions (44). Redshirt sophomore John Rich reaped most of the offensive rewards on the night by hauling in a career-best six catches for 27 yards, including a school record-tying three touchdown catches. Ben DeCelle (10-110) and newcomer B.J. Bunn (7-105) topped the century mark in reception yards on the night as well.
After racking up 297 total yards and 24 points in the opening half, the Broncos (0-2) were limited to 74 yards and no points in a dominant second half by the UNCP defense. “Code Black” finished the night with nine tackles for loss (-44 yards), including a trio of sacks (-23 yards), while also forcing a turnover. Defensive back L.J. Stroman finished his night with a game-high eight tackles and a key interception that set up the second touchdown of the third period for the Braves.
Stroman also scored UNCP’s first touchdown of the game on a 52-yard punt return in the first quarter.