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Mississippi Valley State’s Donald Johnson III returned a kickoff for a touchdown in his team’s homecoming win Saturday against Virginia-Lynchburg. Valley got one defensive score and this one on special teams to help pick up the slack for its struggling offense.

It took until the month of October, but Mississippi Valley State finally has its first win of the season.

MVSU second-year coach Vincent Dancy hopes to use it as a springboard for a strong finish to what has been an otherwise disappointing season so far. “It’s always good to get that first win. It was exciting to get it in such a festive atmosphere. Our fans helped us out on Saturday,” he said.

A visit from reeling Virginia-Lynchburg was just what the doctor ordered for Mississippi Valley State on Saturday.

The Delta Devils got their first win of the season, snapping a nine-game losing skid with a 31-23 homecoming victory Saturday.

Winless Virginia-Lynchburg, which has an enrollment just above 300 students and no full-scholarship athletes, was supposed to be the sacrificial lamb served for homecoming at Rice-Totten Stadium, but the Dragons put up more resistance than many anticipated.

Valley led 17-0 in the first half, but the Dragons scored the next 14 points to make a game of it. A 16-yard touchdown reception with 12:23 left in the third quarter made it 17-14.

The Valley defense then got in on the scoring act as Eric Powell recovered a fumble and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. That huge swing in momentum left Valley up 24-14 with 3:15 remaining in the third.

“It was a win, but we didn’t play like we are capable of playing,” Dancy said. “The level of focus wasn’t where it needed to be, and that falls on us coaches.”   

Valley’s Donald Johnson III returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, putting Valley up 31-23 with 10:40 left.

In the first half, Greenwood’s JohnDerrick Smith scored his second touchdown of the season. The senior out of Greenwood High School scored from four yards out.

The Delta Devils (1-4) jumped out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead over the Dragons, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, when Dejerric Bryant connected with Jarius Clayton for a 27-yard touchdown. After Smith’s touchdown, Hayden Schuster added a 27-yard field goal to put MVSU up 17-0.

Bryant completed just 6 of 21 passes for 38 yards, but he ran for a game-high 109 yards on 14 carries.

Key Homecoming Stats

MVSU had a season-high 31 points scored, averaged 41 yards per rush and defensively had seven sacks.

MVSU outrushed VUL 153-53 led by Dejerric Bryant's 109 yards on the ground. Bryant completed six passes for 38 yards and had one touchdown through the air.

MVSU averaged 4.1 yards per rush, a season-best.

The Delta Devils went 2-for-2 in the red zone scoring; one rushing touchdown and one field goal.

On special teams, Hayden Schuster made his first field goal of the season from 27-yards out.

Justin Read nailed a season-high three punts inside the Dragons' 20-yard line.

On defense, Volme Swanier led the charge with 10 tackles. He had four solos and 1.5  tackles for a loss of three yards.

Jalen Bell recorded a season-high seven tackles with a pair of sacks.

Jamenta Shaw recorded his first interception of the season which was the third overall for the Delta Devils.

Dancy hopes this win will give his team the momentum it needs down the home stretch of the season. After playing at Arkansas-Pine Bluff next week, MVSU gets three straight SWAC games at home (Jackson State, Oct. 19; Texas Southern, Oct. 26; Alabama State, Nov. 2).    

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or bburrus@gwcommonwealth.com.

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