Nero (Louisville, KY) opened and closed the game’s scoring with a pair of special teams scores. He took the opening kick 100 yards for a score, and then had a 70-yard punt return with less than two minutes remaining in the game. In addition to his special teams exploits, Nero totaled 101 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
“Michael is doing double, triple duty, as much as he can,” said Kentucky State head coach John L. Smith. “There were times where I wish he would left the kick in the end zone instead of bringing it out, but he thinks every time he touches the ball he is going to make something happen. That is both good and bad. You have to be smart with it. I like his attitude saying whenever I touch the ball, I am going to score. It was good he had a good day.”
His rushing total was a part of a huge day for the Thorobreds as Kentucky State racked up 307 rushing yards on 48 attempts.
Junior Malik Saunders (Louisville, KY) led the team with 131 yards on 15 carries, while sophomore Jules St. Ge (Lakeland, FL) finished with 80 yards on 14 rushes and three touchdowns.
After Nero’s opened the game with his touchdown, the Yellow Jackets responded with three straight touchdowns.
Kentucky State found its offensive form in the second quarter with a pair of scoring drives, going 90 yards and 92 yards, respectively. The second of the scoring drives was capped on a seven-yard run, on a fake field goal, by senior Cort Groathouse (Lemoore, CA). Sandwiched between the two Thorobred touchdowns was a kickoff return for score by West Virginia State.
“I thought our offense at times, we were running up and down the field on them, did a great job,” said Smith. “I am proud of the kids and how they played. I am proud of our offense and what they did.”
Trailing by 10 to start the third quarter, the KSU defense came up with a big play as senior defensive tackle Chris Roberts (Frankfort, KY) batted up a pass attempt and secured his first career interception. St. Ge scored on the next play to cut the KSU deficit to three points.
“We are back in it; keep believing and keep trying, and then we turn the ball over,” said Smith. “The turnovers killed us, the fumbles killed us and the penalties killed us. After the opening kick off, the other team decided they were going to control the game. They were bigger, faster and stronger, all of the above, and they showed it.”
However, Kentucky State couldn’t get any closer.
The Yellow Jackets answered 46 seconds later, and then turnovers on back-to-back possessions led to 10 more WVSU points.
In all, the two teams gained 610 yards on the ground and amassed 299 penalty yards.
St. Ge added 24 yards on 3-of-16 passing with one interception and he was sacked three times.
Senior Keonte Reynolds (Louisville, KY) led the team with 11 tackles, one sack and 1.5 for loss, while sophomore Harrison Goss (Louisville, KY) added eight stops for the Thorobreds.
Kentucky State (0-6) returns to Alumni Stadium for Homecoming 2 p.m. Saturday, hosting Miles in Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action.