DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Freshman backup quarterback Chauncey Caldwell threw for two touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards to help North Carolina Central beat South Carolina State 33-28 on Thursday night in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener for both teams.

NCCU (2-1), the defending MEAC champions, won its 16th consecutive conference game.

NCCU starter Micah Zanders left the game early in the second quarter after taking a hard hit and did not return. Caldwell was also injured in the fourth quarter, but third-stringer Naiil Ramadan had a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jacen Murphy to pull the Eagles within 28-26. Ramadan's two-point conversion attempt was stopped short.

Caldwell returned later in the fourth and NCCU took its first lead of the second half on his 38-yard connection with a wide-open Josh McCoy with 5:24 left. S.C. State's final drive started at its 21 with 2:24 remaining, but the Bulldogs were stopped after four downs.

Dewann Ford threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for two more scores for S.C. State (1-2).

S.C. State scored a touchdown on three straight possessions - on a three- and two four-play drives - to take a 21-7 lead. Kendall Cobb caught a pass in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard TD, Ford scored on a 7-yard sneak and Quan Caldwell made an athletic catch for a 26-yard score.

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