This weekend in HBCU football was interesting, to say the least, with not much changing in terms of hierarchy amongst the FCS teams, as most programs faced off against FBS opponents ending in blowout losses.
However, there were still some notable occurrences that could potentially have a bearing on the season going forward.
Here are the five takeaways from week two of the HBCU football season.
1. It was a bad day for the CIAA
Saturday was not kind to the CIAA with Bowie State being the only HBCU team winning from the conference (Chowan won against Tusculum as well).
Elsewhere, Winston-Salem State and Johnson C. Smith each made their season debuts losing to Catawba College and Allen University respectively.
Virginia Union and Livingstone each gave up 50 points in blowout defeats against Valdosta State and Savannah State.
Virginia State and Shaw each lost close games against Ohio Dominican and Davidson College.
Lincoln (PA) lost to Central State while Fayetteville State lost its first game of the season against Wingate.
St. Augustine’s had its game against Limestone canceled due to COVID protocols making this the second straight week this has happened to a CIAA team.
The Elizabeth City State Vikings also lost this past weekend but that game deserves an entry of its own.
2. Elizabeth City State’s monumental loss
In what was their first home game of the season, the Elizabeth City State Vikings welcomed the Big Blues of Bluefield State College.
This season is the first for Bluefield State College since reinstating its football program after 40 years. The Big Blues came into this game coming off their first home game to Lawrence Tech.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth City State entered the game following a blowout loss against reigning three-time CIAA Southern division champion Fayetteville State.
Despite losing each of their last four home games prior to this contest, the Vikings were a favorite to come away with the win. That was not to be as Bluefield pulled off the stunning upset defeating Elizabeth City 35-27.
If losing was not already bad enough, the way the Vikings lost made the situation even worse.
Leading 21-0 after the first quarter, Elizabeth City was unable to take advantage of its lead giving up 21 points to Bluefield State in the second quarter.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Vikings were up 27-21 after scoring the only touchdown of the third quarter. With a chance to secure the win, the Vikings threw three interceptions in the quarter with Bluefield State converting two of them into touchdowns leading to ECSU’s eventual defeat.
Bluefield State quarterback J’Rell Joseph played spectacularly, recording 232 passing yards and scoring four touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Xavier Curry posted nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and snagged the interception that all but secured the win for the Big Blues.
Bluefield State will have another chance to get a win against a CIAA opponent when the team faces Johnson C. Smith on the road Saturday.
3. Sy’Veon Wilkerson is a MEAC Offensive Player of the Year candidate
Delaware State freshman running Sy’Veon Wilkerson has been a huge bright spot for the Hornets. So much so, that he may not only be a MEAC Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite, but also a MEAC Offensive Player of the Year candidate.
Wilkerson had an excellent season debut against the Bowie State Bulldogs with 92 rushing yards on 26 attempts, scoring three touchdowns. However, in week two, he leveled up in what was Delaware State’s first game against an FCS opponent this season.
Going against Georgetown, Wilkerson posted 98 rushing yards on 19 attempts scoring a touchdown albeit in defeat.
Of the 46 points Delaware State has scored so far this season, Wilkerson has accounted for 24 of those points and is currently leading the conference in scoring.
We will see if he can keep up this production over the course of the season, but as for now, he is definitely a player people need to watch for.
4. Miles fought valiantly against the SWAC
For the second week in a row, the Miles Golden Bears took on a SWAC opponent and gave them their very best shot only to fall just short.
The Golden Bears opened the season against Alabama State, playing them into overtime before ultimately losing by an extra point.
Last Saturday, the Golden Bears face the Southern Jaguars. A team that many tagged as favorites to win the SWAC West.
Both Miles and Southern traded the lead back-and-forth through the first three quarters peaking with the Golden Bears leading 24-20 with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter. From there, the Jaguars were able to score three unanswered touchdowns to put the game away.
These first two weeks showed that Miles is not just a dominant SIAC team and a credible Division II football program; they are a very good football program as a whole.
If Miles is able to apply the good and subtract the bad that they took from each of their first two games against Alabama State and Southern, the Golden Bears could potentially run away with their third straight SIAC title.
Miles will play their first conference game this upcoming weekend when they play the Morehouse Maroon Tigers on the road.
5. Jackson State is as good as advertised
With all the hype surrounding the Jackson State Tigers with this being Deion Sanders’ first full season as head coach of the team, as well as welcoming a host of transfers and a top signing class, so far the team has lived up to the hype.
The Tigers opened the season spoiling the SWAC debut of the Florida A&M Rattlers, a team that many expect to be a contender in the SWAC East division. This past weekend, JSU put up a much better all-around performance against the Tennessee State Tigers in the Southern Heritage Classic.
Much of JSU’s success boils down to the play of its defense as it currently leads the SWAC in total yards allowed and is tied for the least touchdowns allowed.
The two players that have stuck out from the Tigers’ defense have been their tandem of linebackers James Houston and Aubrey Miller.
Houston is currently leading the SWAC in sacks and tackles for loss while Miller is second in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss.
On offense, quarterback Shedeur Sanders has had an excellent start to his college career through two games. He is averaging 291.5 passing yards per game and has thrown three touchdown passes.
This upcoming Saturday, the Tigers will have their toughest test of the season when they face the only FBS opponent on their schedule; the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks of the Sun Belt Conference.