Trent Cannon rushed for 186 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns to help lead the Virginia State University Trojans to its second Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship in four years. The Trojans prevailed over the Fayetteville State University Broncos 42-19 at Salem Football Stadium on Saturday evening. This is the 12th CIAA Championship title for the Trojans in school history, with their last capture in 2014.
Cannon (Sr., RB) was named Nationwide's Most Valuable Player of the Champion Trojans while FSU sophomore running back Stevie Green was named Nationwide MVP for the FSU Broncos.
Broncos sophomore wide receiver Brandon Smith took the opening kickoff 52 yards to the VSU 43-yard marker before being tackled down by Elijah White. Defensive end Alexander Williams forced an FSU fumble on the third play of the game to give the Trojans the ball on the Broncos' 47-yard line.
Cannon scampered for 10 yards up the middle, capping a 36-yard, seven-play drive and gifting the Trojans the 7-0 advantage. Fayetteville State's second drive stalled after collecting their first 1st down of the championship contest off a Stevie Green 23-yard run down the sideline. The Trojans forced the Broncos to punt three plays later.
A pass from VSU quarterback Cordelral Cook to receiver Zackary Parker with 7:32 remaining in the first quarter gave the Trojans a 14-0 lead. The Trojans used only three-plays to go 80 yards for the score. Virginia State recorded their third score of the game at the 1:52 mark, when Joshua Harris caught a five-yard pass from Cook to cap off a six-play, 57-yard drive. The Trojans entered halftime with a comfortable 21-0 lead over the Broncos.
Fayetteville State came in to the second half with a spark. The Broncos forced a Trojan three-and-out followed by a Richard Latimer (Fr., QB) 37-yard pass to Curtis Burston (Jr., WR) to get the Broncos on the board. Their momentum was cut short by VSU as Cook broke out for a 26-yard rushing touchdown to give the Trojans a 28-7 advantage.
A back-and forth-third quarter, Fayetteville State would answer with another score of their own. Green capped off a three-play, 66-yard drive with a 15-yard run up the middle to give FSU some life. Cannon ended the night with two 70+ yards runs at the 2:23 mark in the third and the 7:56 mark in the fourth quarter.
Burtson's 22-yard touchdown reception at the end of regulation wasn't enough for the Broncos as the Trojans captured the 42-19 victory.
VSU finished with 270 total rushing yards and amassed 439 total offensive yards while FSU marked 190 rushing yards for 384 total offensive yards.
Cook led the game completing 13-of-23 pass attempts for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Cook found Zach Parker 3 times as Parker tacked on 86 receiving yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Brandon Lynch led the Trojans defense with a game-high 12 total tackles (5 solo, 7 assists). Lynch also added 2 tackles for loss and 1.5 quarterback sacks.
For the Broncos, Latimer completed 9-of-18 passing attempts for 154 yards and one touchdown. His main target, Burston, grabbed 5 receptions in the air for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Broncos were led by Cody Purdie who took down VSU's quarterback 3.5 times for a loss of 14 yards. Purdie also grabbed 4 solo and 3 assisted tackles.
Ranked No. 3 in Super Region 2 prior to today's championship, it is highly likely that the VSU Trojans will continue their season in to regional play. The NCAA Division II Football Selection Show is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 12, 2017.