GREENSBORO (November 5, 2016) – North Carolina A&T is ranked 10th in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. They are the No. 1 black college football team in the nation, and they are the two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football champs.
Therefore, they know every game they compete in, they’re going to take the other team’s mightiest blow. Saturday afternoon at Aggie Stadium, the 10th-ranked Aggies took a left uppercut, straight jab and right cross that would have knocked out most teams. Instead of staying down however, the Aggies overcame their second fourth-quarter deficit of the season to come away with a 30-20 win over South Carolina State on Senior Day.
The win keeps N.C. A&T (8-1, 6-0 MEAC) in a first-place tie with North Carolina Central (7-2, 6-0 MEAC) after NCCU defeated Delaware State 38-19 on Saturday. S.C. State fell to 3-5 overall and 3-2 in the MEAC. [easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”y” identifier=”B0189SK9XW” locale=”US” tag=”hbcusports-20″]
“It does make you play better because everybody we play gets ready to play us now. We’re the standard these days. Teams think if they beat us, they can get on the right track. So we’re going take everybody’s best shots, but our guys aren’t going to get hit and not hit back. We’re going to stand there and fight with them.”
SCSU quarterback Caleb York threw his share of haymakers after entering the game toward the end of the second quarter. He ended the first half with a 41-yard touchdown pass to De’Montrez Burroughs. With 3:03 remaining in the third quarter, he connected with Quan Caldwell for 46 yards down to the Aggies 1-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, York ran into a fortress the Aggies front formed at the goal line before bouncing outside to score and give the Bulldogs a 20-16 lead with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.
“South Carolina State is a good football team, a really good football team,” said Broadway. “I think they’ve won five or six championships in the last 12 years, so they’re always tough. They had lost one conference game and three Division I (FBS) games coming in here, so we knew it was going to be a dogfight and it always is.”
To withstand SCSU’s upset bid the Aggies went back to playing the type of defense that has them ranked No. 1 in the MEAC. SCSU compiled 359 yards of offense, but only 46 of those came in the fourth quarter. After forcing the Bulldogs to punt from their own 11, Jerome Pettiway shanked a 26-yard punt that gave the Aggies 1st-and-10 from the Bulldog 37. On 3rd-and-7 from the Bulldog 9, Raynard turned to his right, and when he did, he saw man-to-man coverage on freshman receiver Elijah Bell.
He tossed a pass in Bell’s direction on a fade route, allowing Bell to outfight the defender for the ball and the touchdown. It was Bell’s second TD reception of the day, and it gave N.C. A&T a 23-20 lead with 5:25 to play. Bell said he thought the play was going to 6-foot-4 wide receiver Denzel Keyes, but once Raynard got to the line of scrimmage, he saw something different.
“South Carolina State stacked their coverage to Denzel’s side, so I knew it was going to Elijah,” said Raynard who was 18-for-30 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. “Elijah always makes plays every day in practice and in games. I went to him because I knew he was going to make the play.”
Redshirt sophomore cornerback Marquis Willis then came away with the knockout play. He intercepted a York pass near the SCSU sideline and returned it 29 yards for his second career pick-6.
“I think it took a lot of character for our guys to come back,” said Broadway. “We gave up some big plays here and there, but this team has something in them that they keep fighting.”
Redshirt junior Jeremy Taylor led the Aggies defensively with 12 tackles and two pass break ups. The Bulldogs did hold All-American running back Tarik Cohen to 57 yards on 16 carries. Cohen did, however, score a first-quarter touchdown giving him his first career TD against the Bulldogs. He also had 48 yards receiving on six catches.
Before the game, Cohen and teammates Tyree Andrews, Oluwafemi Bamiro, Gerald Caskey, Wes Cole, Demetrius Fairley, Malik Hampton-Prioleau, Cody Jones, Angelo Keyes, Denzel Keyes, Corbin Martin, Anthony McMinn II, Marquis Ragland, D’Anthony Ross, Lorenz Suttles and Michael Weaver, Jr., were honored as a part of the Aggies Senior Day ceremony.
“These guys are special. They’ve hung in there and helped to develop this team and this program,” said Broadway. “They got us back in good graces around the country, and I couldn’t be prouder of those guys. We still have two more games with these seniors, so we’re going to enjoy two more games and try to win two more games and then see what happens.”
N.C. A&T will finish on the road at Delaware State on Saturday, Nov. 12 and at NCCU on Saturday, Nov. 19. Both games start at 2 p.m.
Courtesy: NCA&T Athletics