Central State gets first home win in three years

If you turned a Rocky movie into a football game Saturday, then Central State’s Chazz Hunter would be Sylvester Stallone, except without the mumbling.

The Marauders’ linebacker was full of high-pitched excitement after Central State – thanks to his knockout effort – pulled off a glorious comeback victory over rival Kentucky State, 31-30, in the season finale at McPherson Stadium.

“This feels great,” Hunter said afterwards. “We haven’t had a home dub (W for win) in 1,100-some days.”

That’s right.

Central State’s last home victory had been 1,105 days ago – Oct. 26, 2019 – against Miles College, 15-13.

The figure is a little skewed since the 2020 season was wiped out by COVID, but CSU still had lost eight straight at home since then, including four previous games this season.

Just as meaningful was that the victory came against Kentucky State, a team that had beaten the Marauders 16 of the past 17 games and three in a row, including a 63-0 drubbing in last season’s final game,

“Our seniors came back and we told them we ain’t going for that,” said Hunter. “We’re not letting them do that to us no more. We’re gonna make this a real rivalry. And we’re gonna make them hate us every year.”

Saturday there was no CSU player the Thorobreds disliked more than Hunter, a 5-foot-9, 210-pound wrecking ball.

He finished the game with a whopping 24 tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.

What’s even more unlikely is that a year ago he was out of football.

Coming out of Bedford High near Cleveland, he had gone to the University of Akron with hopes of walking on to the Zips team.

“That didn’t happen,” he said,

Thanks to friends at CSU who lobbied for him, he was able to convince new coach Kevin Porter to give him a chance as a walk-on.

He was a backup until he finally got a start in a loss against Tuskegee three weeks ago.

“That was a little shaky for me, so I needed to prove myself again,” he said. “I decided to really ball today and I think I showed everybody I’m here to play.” That’s an understatement.

He made his presence felt the first time Kentucky State touched the ball Saturday.

When Central State punted after the opening possession, Hunter, playing special teams, clobbered Thorobred return man, Daria Kirkland, who fumbled at his own 32 yard line.

CSU recovered and five plays later the Marauders’ Kaz Dina scored on a one yard run. CSU kicker Jose Chaires then added the extra point, one of four he had along with a 23-yard field goal Saturday.

There was another play later in the game when he leaped over the center, who was attempting a chop block, and dumped the Thorobred fullback for a three-yard loss.

Three times Saturday CSU came back from a deficit to take the lead

CSU’s go-ahead score came with 5:34 left when quarterback Brandon Kyles ran three yards for a TD to tie the game 30-30. Chaires added the winning extra point.

Kyles had two touchdown passes: 29 yards to Micah Lowe and 10 yards to Twon Hines.

Afterward Hunter was ecstatic. “I just feel like a true Marauder today.”

He joined his teammates for a full-throated rendition of the alma mater on the field, but he did miss out on one thing.

When several of the other Marauders were dumping a tub of water on the victorious Porter, he admits he had other priorities:

“I was too busy dancing with the cheerleaders.”

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