DOVER, Del. – North Carolina A&T senior quarterback Lamar Raynard was unaware he made history Saturday night at Alumni Stadium.
His mind seemed to be on the important 34-6 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference win the Aggies football team secured to improve to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference. But once he found out he tied Alan Hooker’s school record for touchdown passes with his 59thcareer toss, there was a person he wanted to have the news first.
“I didn’t know that,” Raynard said after being informed. “It’s a big accomplishment. I give credit to my coaches and teammates. My wide receivers are making plays. My running backs are making plays. My offensive line is protecting me. It’s nothing I’m doing. They’re making the plays.
I just can’t wait to tell my mom,” he concluded.
Raynard accounted for all five of N.C. A&T’s touchdowns on Saturday as he threw for three and ran for two. Therefore, he can tell his mother he took down another one of Hooker’s record. Raynard has now accounted for 70 touchdowns in his career – 59 passing, 11 running – to eclipses Hooker’s old mark of 66.
“Lamar has been a terrific player for us for a very long time,” said N.C. A&T coach Sam Washington about the reigning MEAC Offensive Player of the Year. “We are fortunate to have an experienced guy like that throwing the football for us. Teams throw a lot of different coverages and a lot of different fronts at us and he gets us in the right position to attack those looks.”
Raynard finished the night 14-for-23 for 171 yards and no interceptions. He looked comfortable in the pocket throughout the night and even when he had to scramble out of the pocket he made some accurate throws on the run. His first touchdown pass came as he rolled out to the right and threw on the run to senior receiver Malik Wilson.
Wilson sprinted to the ball, tip-toed both feet in bounds to give the Aggies a 7-3 lead. Raynard was also sustained by an effective running game. A week after rushing for 311 yards against S.C. State, the Aggies rushed for 182 yards against the Hornets with senior Marquell Cartwright leading the way with 97 yards on 16 carries.
N.C. A&T’s run game was so effective in the second quarter, Raynard was able to fake a handoff to Cartwright and jog into the end zone on the read-option keeper as the Hornets defense flowed to stop Cartwright. Raynard’s run gave the Aggies a 13-3 lead after the extra point was blocked.
After the Hornets responded with a three-and-out on their next drive, the Aggies took over at their own 34-yard line. Sophomore running back Jah-Maine Martin opened the drive with a 12-yard run which was followed by a 54-yard TD bomb to Wilson to put the Aggies ahead 20-3. Wilson caught four passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought the O-line did a very good job of keeping Lamar upright tonight,” said Washington. “He looked at ease back there because the protection was so good. When he is allowed to get into a rhythm back there, he is really good.”
The Aggies were able to keep DSU out of the end zone, marking the 19thtime in eight seasons the Aggies have held an opponent without a touchdown. They have done it twice this season. Yet, Delaware State’s offense had its moments.
A Keenan Black 36-yard completion to Trey Gross set up a 49-yard field goal from Jose Romo-Martinez that he connected on to cut the Aggies lead to 20-6. Right before halftime, Romo-Martinez tried to cut into N.C. A&T’s lead even further but had his 50-yarder hit the bottom upright to end the half.
“I thought we played pretty well (defensively) until I looked down at this sheet of paper and saw that we gave up 140 yards rushing,” said Washington after taking a glance at the postgame stat sheet. “We’re better than that. We missed a few assignments that we can get fixed.”
N.C. A&T kept its defense off the field in the third quarter. The Hornets offense only ran 10 plays in the quarter. Meanwhile, the Aggies put together an 11-play drive to open the second half.
Other than a rollout completion from Raynard to junior Ron Hunt, the Aggies ran the ball every play of the drive which ended with Raynard bobbing and weaving his way into the end zone for a 5-yard TD run and a 27-6 Aggies lead. Romo-Martinez’s 24-yard punt helped the Aggies close out the scoring Saturday night. N.C. A&T took advantage of the short field and drove the ball 30 yards on four plays with Raynard connecting with sophomore Zachary Leslie on a 4-yard touchdown pass to tie the school mark.
“We got into a rhythm early. We really wanted to get off to a fast start instead of waiting until the second half,” said Raynard. “We never want to cruise. We have to learn how to be better finishers. That’s why we need to get back to practice because we’ve got a great opponent next week.”
Florida A&M is headed to Greensboro next week to face the Aggies 1 p.m., Saturday at BB&T Stadium. The Rattlers (4-2, 3-0 MEAC) are coming off a 17-0 win over Norfolk State Saturday to set up a midseason showdown for first place in the MEAC.
Courtesy: NCA&T Athletics