DSU fans ‘tickled’ by title

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2000

On Saturday afternoon in Florence, Ala., the Delta State Statesmen made a statement of their own by soundly defeating Bloomsburg (Pa.) University 63-34 to win the NCAA Division II national championship.

It was the first national championship in the 75-year history of Delta State’s football program.

In the process, the Statesmen, which finished the 2000 season with a 14-1 record, broke four championship game records – points – 63 (which broke last year’s record of 58 set by Northwest Missouri – in four overtimes); first downs – 36; total yards – 649; and rushing yards – 524.

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Among those who were excited to see the Statesmen win it all were a pair of Delta State alumni, Paul Hayles and Christopher Kelley.

&uot;I’m tickled,&uot; said Hayles, who played football at Delta State in 1993 and 1994. &uot;DSU has been close a number of years with good teams.&uot;

When Hayles played at Delta State, current head coach Steve Campbell was the offensive line coach and current defensive coordinator Gwayne Matthews was the linebackers coach.

&uot;I’m glad to see they went to the playoffs and did well well when they got there,&uot; Hayles added.

&uot;It was an awesome surprise. I think it’s great,&uot; Kelley said. &uot;For (quarterback) Josh Bright to win the Conerly Trophy (as Mississippi’s top collegiate player), it was a great season. Coach Campbell did a great job with the folks he had.&uot;

Bright ran for a game-high 175 yards and three touchdowns and complete 6-for-11 passes for 80 yards.

Hayles said he wasn’t that surprised about the margin of victory.

&uot;Not with all the ability they have in their running game,&uot; he said. &uot;They were hitting on all cylinders.&uot;