Columbia, SC (Benedict College Sports Information) -- Sophomore quarterback Brandon Thompson rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 103 yards in his first start as the Benedict College Tigers shut down Clark Atlanta for a 24-0 victory on Saturday.
The Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the SIAC. The win was Benedict's fourth straight on Homecoming. Clark Atlanta dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the SIAC.
Benedict held Clark Atlanta to just 115 yards of total offense. The Panthers entered the game with the 14th-best rushing offense in NCAA Division II at 283.6 yards per game, but Benedict held the Panthers to a season-low 89 yards rushing on 41 attempts. It was also the first shutout for Benedict since beating Stillman 35-0 in 2010.
"The defense played phenomenal today," Benedict coach James Woody said. "I'm very happy with these guys. We challenged them before this game to shut this team out and stop that run, and we did that today."
Clark Atlanta was 1-of-11 on third-down conversions, 1-of-4 on fourth-down conversions and had the ball for slightly more than 25 minutes of the game. Benedict, on the other hand, was 8-of-13 on third downs, picked up 20 first downs, and had the ball for nearly 35 minutes.
"We had a lot of success doing the things we needed to do," Woody said.
After Marcus Graham struggled last week against Stillman, Woody and the coaching staff started Thompson at quarterback. He guided the Tigers on a 10-play, 59-yard drive on their second possession of the game, resulting in a 39-yard field goal by Eduardo Hernandez. The Tigers had a long, time-consuming drive in the second quarter, but Hernandez missed a 31-yard field goal attempt, and Benedict took a 3-0 lead at the half.
Evan Pegues recovered a Clark Atlanta fumble on the second play of the second half, giving the Tigers the ball at the Clark 30. Four plays later, Thompson ran into the end zone from 8-yards out to put the Tigers ahead 10-0.
After forcing the Panthers to punt on the next series, the Tigers took over at midfield and ran the ball on seven of eight plays. Thompson ran the final two plays, gaining 14 yards and then powering in from 8-yards out for his second touchdown.
Rodney Hall intercepted Trenton Earl's pass on Clark Atlanta's next play, but the Tigers couldn't capitalize. Clark Atlanta punted the ball back to Benedict after a three-and-out, and Harlon Samuels returned the ball 52 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 24-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Benedict was moving the ball deep into Clark territory in the fourth quarter, but a fumble by Thompson ended that drive. The Panthers took over and marched the ball down the Benedict 4-yard line, but Aquimial Burton fumbled the ball and Benedict's Brandon Beech recovered to preserve the shutout.
Thompson gained a team-high 91 yards on the ground on 18 carries with two touchdowns. He was 11-of-21 passing for 103 yards. Graham moved to receiver and caught three passes for 32 yards.
"We needed a spark at quarterback," Woody said. "Nothing against Marcus, he played well at receiver. Brandon gave us an extra depth to the offense with his legs. He made a lot of things happen running the football. He is very mobile. He brings a lot of excitement to our offense."
Lamarcus Hudson led the Benedict defense with six tackles, including two tackles for loss.
The Tigers are on the road next week to face Morehouse. Kickoff in Atlanta is 2 p.m.