Up Next

HBCU Football

S.C. State’s Joe Thomas becomes oldest player in Division I history

The 55-year-old running back waited 36 years for his chance

Among the notable performances in football at historically black colleges and universities last weekend was that of Joe Thomas, the 55-year-old South Carolina State University running back who made history as the oldest player to play in an NCAA Division I game.

Thomas, whose son is Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas Jr., fulfilled a long-held dream Saturday.

In the senior day game against Savannah State University, with 4:34 remaining in the opening quarter, Thomas ran the ball for three yards on his first carry. He ran three more times and finished the game with minus one yard rushing.

“I felt like a hero,” Thomas Sr. said. “It was certainly one of the happiest days of my life. I always wanted to play college football and I finally got the chance. And I thank South Carolina State, coach [Buddy] Pough and the entire coaching staff, and my teammates for the opportunity. I had been waiting 36 years.”

Thomas’ son played for S.C. State from 2010 to 2013.

Other notable performances

  • Tuskegee University quarterback Kevin Lacey completed 13 of 17 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns as the Golden Tigers defeated Newberry College, 35-33, in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
  • Winston-Salem State University’s season ended in the first round of the Division II playoffs, with a 48-41 loss to No. 10 Long Island University Post. Behind 48-24, Rams quarterback Rod Tinsley guided his team to within a touchdown late in the game, but it wasn’t enough. Tinsley finished with two touchdowns and 278 yards passing. Running back Kerrion Moore scored twice on short runs. Linebackers Xavier Gregory and Jayron Rankin combined on 20 tackles.
  • Norfolk State University linebacker Cephas Harden had 14 total and seven solo tackles to lead the Spartans to a 17-10 victory over Hampton University in the “Battle of the Bay.”
  • Bethune-Cookman University quarterback Akevious Williams completed 20 of 26 passes for 272 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Wildcats’ 39-19 win over Florida A&M University.
  • Howard University running back Anthony Philyaw ran for 281 yards and two touchdowns as the Bison nipped Delaware State University, 26-21.
  • Delaware State running back Mike Waters set a Hornets record with 224 yards on 30 rushing attempts while scoring two touchdowns in a losing effort.
  • Grambling State University defensive lineman Lorin Winston had nine total and five solo tackles with four tackles for loss and three sacks in the Tigers’ 47-28 win over Texas Southern University.
  • Prairie View A&M University quarterback Trey Green completed 23 of 29 passes for 400 yards and five touchdowns to help the Panthers spank the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 57-7.

Donald Hunt, ESPN.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.