GREENSBORO, N.C. – The defending black college football national champions, the defending Celebration Bowl champions and the defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football champions North Carolina A&T Aggies released the list of games they hope will lead to another special season like the one they had during the 2017 season. Fans can get a preview of Aggies Football in 2018 with the annual Blue-Gold Spring Game scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, April 7 at Aggie Stadium.
The Aggies (12-0), who finished the 2017 season as the only undefeated team in the NCAA Division I-Football Championship Subdivision, will not shy away from putting their winning streak on the line to open the 2018 season.
They will open the season against one of the best teams in FCS football in the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in Montgomery, Ala., on Aug. 25. The Aggies (No. 6) and the Gamecocks (No. 10) finished in the NCAA FCS Coaches Poll last season. Both teams also finished undefeated their respective conferences with the Gamecocks running the table in the Ohio Valley Conference for the fourth straight season.
The game will be the fifth installment of ESPN’s FCS Kickoff series which featured Jacksonville State taking on Chattanooga last season. Jacksonville State won that game. Other past winners of the FCS Kickoff include Eastern Washington, Montana and North Dakota State.
As if that challenge wasn’t strong enough, the Aggies will spend the next week in Greenville, N.C., to take on the East Carolina Pirates, a Division I-FBS program out of the American Athletic Conference. N.C. A&T has had success against FBS schools as of late, defeating Kent State in 2016 and Charlotte in 2017. ECU will be the Aggies second AAC opponent in three years after the Aggies lost to Tulsa in 2016.
Nonconference play ends with a rematch against Gardner-Webb on Sept. 8 in the 2018 home opener at Aggie Stadium. The Aggies were 45-3 winners over the Runnin’ Bulldogs last season in Boling Springs, N.C.
“We have added more worthy opponents to the schedule, but that is a challenge we are looking forward to,” said N.C. A&T coach Sam Washington who is preparing to enter his first season as the Aggies head coach after spending the last seven as its defensive coordinator. Washington is taking over for Rod Broadway who retired from coaching after seven seasons as the Aggies head man.
“We are starting out with Jacksonville State and ECU so that says a lot about where we see ourselves as a program because those are two really tough games,” Washington continued. “We are not afraid. We’re going to do the things we need to do to be successful and then see what the outcome is.”
N.C. A&T will get a week off before opening conference play against the Morgan State Bears on Sept. 22 at Aggie Stadium. The game will not count against either team’s overall conference record because neither school had Hampton on their 2018 schedule. Therefore, the nonconference A&T/Morgan matchup will mean each MEAC school plays seven conference games in 2018.
N.C. A&T defeated the Bears 49-17 last season in Baltimore behind two interception returns for touchdowns by cornerback Frank McCain. The Aggies return to Aggie Stadium for their third straight home game when they face the S.C. State Bulldogs on Sept. 29. The Aggies knocked off the Bulldogs 21-7 last season in Orangeburg, S.C., behind a dominating defensive performance that held the Bulldogs to 82 yards rushing.
A road game against Delaware State appears on the schedule next with the Aggies going to Dover, Del., to face the Hornets on Oct. 6. The Aggies have won four straight over the Hornets including last season’s 44-3 triumph at Aggie Stadium. N.C. A&T returns home to face the Florida A&M Rattlers on Oct. 13. The Aggies have won six straight against the Rattlers, which is the longest winning streak in the 66-game history of the matchup for N.C. A&T.
Bethune-Cookman, the team that gave the Aggies their toughest fight last season, will await the Aggies on Oct. 20 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Wildcats were a serious threat to the Aggies historic 2017 season until a late touchdown pass by Lamar Raynard gave the Aggies a 24-20 win at Aggie Stadium.
The Aggies will get a second week away from competition before facing the Norfolk State Spartans in the Greatest Homecoming On Earth at Aggie Stadium on Nov. 3. Elijah Bell had seven catches for 114 yards receiving and the Aggies defense held the Spartans to minus-four yards rushing in a 35-7 win in Norfolk, Va., last season.
N.C. A&T’s final two games are away from home as they will travel to Savannah, Ga., to take on the Savannah State Tigers on Nov. 10. The Tigers and the Aggies have only played three times and will likely not face each other for a while with the Tigers returning to Division II in 2019.
Of course, the season will end with the annual Aggie-Eagle rivalry between N.C. A&T and N.C. Central. In 2018, the Aggies will have to travel to Durham to face the Eagles on Nov. 17. The Aggies completed their march to the outright MEAC title with a 24-10 win over the Eagles at Aggie Stadium last season.
N.C. A&T will be after their third black football title in four years, their third Celebration Bowl win in four years and their fourth MEAC title in five years.
2018 North Carolina A&T Football Schedule
|Sat, Apr 07||Spring Game||Aggie Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sat, Aug 25||Jacksonville State||at Montgomery, Ala.||TBA|
|Sat, Sep 01||East Carolina||at Greenville, N.C.||TBA|
|Sat, Sep 08||Gardner-Webb||Aggie Stadium||6 p.m.|
|Sat, Sep 22||Morgan State *||Aggie Stadium||6 p.m.|
|Sat, Sep 29||South Carolina State *||Aggie Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sat, Oct 06||Delaware State *||at Dover, Del.||TBA|
|Sat, Oct 13||Florida A&M *||Aggie Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sat, Oct 20||Bethune-Cookman *||at Daytona Beach, Fla.||4 p.m.|
|Sat, Nov 03||Norfolk State *||Aggie Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sat, Nov 10||Savannah State *||at Savannah, Ga.||TBA|
|Sat, Nov 17||North Carolina Central *||at Durham, N.C.||2 p.m.|
Courtesy: NCA & T Athletics