Club Football Cougars Begin March to Doughboy Bowl with Road Win

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbus State University’s club sports tackle football team launched its 2013 season with a 24-14 weekend victory over its University of South Carolina counterpart — taking a decisive first step toward its climactic Oct. 24 Doughboy Bowl game against Fort Benning.

Coaches hope Sunday’s win against a ranked opponent is a good omen for the Doughboy Bowl, which CSU will host for the first time in the four years since CSU began its October bowl series against a club team of U.S. Army soldiers. A wide range of tailgating and family-oriented activities are planned before the free 7 p.m. game on Thursday, Oct. 24 at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.

Michael Speight, now in his second year as head coach of CSU’s Cougars, said Sunday’s opening win shows his team is beginning to benefit from the leadership of more-experienced, veteran players on this year’s squad.

“It’s the key,” said Speight, whose full-time Campus Recreation role is coordinator of intramural and club sports. “These guys who have fallen into the leadership roles are driving practice and driving these younger guys.”

As one of 11 club sports, CSU’s tackle football team represents the university in intercollegiate competition, but it’s not a varsity sport regulated by the NCAA or similar body. In most instances, students handle much of their team’s budgeting, scheduling, fundraising and organization, working closely with Campus Recreation.

All three of CSU’s touchdowns on Sunday were the result of pass plays. The Cougars scored first, 12 minutes into the first quarter, with a trick play that had wide receiver Safari Evans taking a lateral from quarterback Jimmy Cobb before Evans passed to another wide receiver, Emmanuel Brunson, for a 45-yard touchdown. Later in the first quarter, Cobb connected with receiver Jonas Abraham on a 50-yard pass play for the team’s second touchdown.

Cobb also connected with receiver Damion Brown on a 55-yard pass play in the second quarter for the team’s third touchdown. Kicker Eddie Miranda made all three of his extra-point attempts and then added CSU’s final points of the game in the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal. South Carolina scored one touchdown just before halftime, but CSU blocked the extra-point attempt. South Carolina scored again with a fourth-quarter touchdown, bringing its total to 14 with a two-point conversion.

Beyond his older players, Speight said he’s also benefitting from strong leadership from Assistant Head Coach Bruce Hubbard, who’s a Campus Recreation graduate assistant; Defensive Coordinator John Hall; and Offensive Coordinator Kenneth Gardner. Hall and Gardner are both volunteers.

The Cougars’ defense also played well Sunday, Speight said, holding USC to 190 yards . Cornerback Jeremy Williams led the Cougars defensively with eight tackles, and defensive tackle Tae Robinson had two sacks. 

CSU faces its next opponent, Kennesaw State, in another road game at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28. Columbus State’s first home game is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium, again against Kennesaw State.  CSU stays at home on 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13 at Britt David Park, facing another South Carolina club team, Orangeburg-Calhoun. The Cougars then hit the road against Middle Georgia State College at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 before facing the Fort Benning team in the season-ending Doughboy Bowl at 7 p.m. the following Thursday.

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