Already in this young season, we’ve had a fortune-shifting MEAC thriller

Brian Jenkins hasn’t lost much since becoming head coach at Bethune-Cookman, and never like this.

Facing conference favorite South Carolina State, his team battled to a baseball score at halftime, 8-5, in a game that looked like it would be dominated by the defenses. Both Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference offenses rebounded, however, after the bands played, scoring a touchdown a piece. That set up a final drive from Bethune, down just 19-18 with four minutes left. But as quarterback Jamarr Robinson tried to move his team into range for a game-winning field goal, he was intercepted by Bulldogs safety Dominique Ellis, who dashed 55 yards to score for the eventual 26-18 victory.

Bethune (1-1 overall, 0-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) piled up 397 yards of offense — but ended up coughing up the ball five times, literally giving the game away. In all, Robinson threw four interceptions, including two in the final 4 minutes.

“I’m frustrated, but I’m not disappointed in my guys,” Jenkins told The News-Journal. “We are a good football team. South Carolina State took advantage of our mishaps. We have nine more games to go. We are going to get it corrected.”

A year ago, things were different. South Carolina State came into this season having lost just one MEAC game in more than three season — and that 14-0 shutout came at the hands of Bethune-Cookman in 2010. Now Jenkins and Co., which dashed all the way to the finale in his rookie season at the helm without dropped a match, must endure a long bye week, waiting for a Thursday, Sept. 22, game against league foe Hampton.

Oh, and about Hampton: The Pirates look to be no easy out, after besting Florida A&M 23-17 last week.

That only adds post-game intrigue to South Carolina State’s memorable night. In a bunched-up MEAC race which saw a co-championship awarded last season, this win likely shifts the fortunes of a resurgent Bethune-Cookman program, and puts the Bulldogs right back in the conference driver’s seat.

South Carolina State (1-1, 1-0) travels this week to take on Big Ten opponent Indiana University.

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