WILBERFORCE — After four weeks on the road, the Central State Marauders hosted the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers in their first home game of the season, Saturday at McPherson Memorial Stadium.
After an even first half, the Panthers (1-3) got rolling on offense on their way to a 35-7 win to spoil the Central State home opener.
Marauders coach Cedric Pearl placed most of the blame on himself.
“I’ve just got to coach them up a little better, that’s all. We’ve got to get ready for next week, conference play,” he said. “We’ve got to do better at executing. We’re not executing to the level that we should be on offense, and that’s on me. All that’s on me.”
The Marauders (2-3) had struggled to score points in the first four games of the season and decided to switch to quarterback Terrence Wafford under center. Wafford got out to a rocky start. Central State’s first three drives ended in an interception.
Wafford finished the day with 147 yards passing on 11-of-34 attempts. He had one touchdown and four interceptions.
Kentucky Wesleyan defensive tackle D.Mo Crawford intercepted Wafford on Central State’s third possession and ran it back for a 30-yard touchdown.
“We just can’t turn the ball over. Every time we got going, we shot ourselves in the foot. Either we would miss a block or something. We’ve got to get more consistent on offense. We’re going to have to find it in a hurry,” said Pearl.
Despite the turnovers, Central State didn’t allow a single offensive touchdown in the first half. Wafford connected with Rashad Oglesby on an 11-yard touchdown pass to get the Marauders on the board early in the second quarter. The game was tied 7-7 at halftime.
The second half was all about big plays for the Panthers. With just over eight minutes left in the third quarter, Kentucky Wesleyan quarterback Dalton Oliver found Keelan Cole for a short completion on fourth-and-long. Cole turned the pass into a 75-yard touchdown.
Oliver finished 20-for-35 passes with 389 yards throwing. He had four touchdowns and two interceptions.
After another third-quarter touchdown pass to Trey Beets, Oliver found Cole again at the beginning of the fourth quarter for a 79-yard touchdown pass. Cole finished the game with seven catches for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
“Cole is an outstanding player for them. He’s the guy that gets them going, and he got going,” said Pearl.
Oliver had a 47-yard touchdown pass to Travion Tucker to put the Panthers up 35-7.
Kentucky Wesleyan had 411 yards of total offense compared to Central State’s 177.
The Marauders host Miles College 1:30 p.m. Saturday on homecoming weekend.
Reach Zach Gregory at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2124.