Week 4 of the HBCU football season was arguably the most important of the year so far as it saw the beginning of the conference schedule for the CIAA and the SIAC.
In addition, there were important conference games in the SWAC that could have an impact on who represents the East and West divisions in the conference championship game.
Here, we will highlight a team that missed a huge opportunity to make a statement in its conference opener, one of the oddest final scores that will be seen in all of college football this season, and a player with high expectations that has yet to get going so far.
Here are the takeaways from week 4 of the HBCU football season.
1. UAPB’s missed opportunity
Week 4 of the HBCU football season kicked off with a Thursday night matchup between the Alcorn State Braves vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions.
Many saw this game as a chance for UAPB to silence their doubters putting to rest that they only won their division because Alcorn State opted not to play in the spring.
Despite being the reigning division champions, UAPB was picked to finish fifth in the SWAC West, while Alcorn State was picked to make it back to the conference championship game.
Entering the game with a huge chip on its shoulder, UAPB got off to a hot start scoring the first 17 points of the game and going into halftime with a 26-7 lead.
This included an interception by UAPB defensive lineman Zion Farmer that he returned 32 yards for a touchdown — although he nearly fumbled it before he got in the end zone.
The Golden Lions’ lead peaked at 19 points when they scored on a blocked punt return to make the score 32-13. However, they were unable to score on the two-point conversion.
That failed two-point conversion was one of many missed opportunities that led to the Braves’ eventual comeback. This included a blocked extra point in the third quarter, a failed fourth-down conversion in lieu of a field goal attempt, and another failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
Down 38-26 in the fourth quarter, Alcorn State scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to escape with the 39-38 win.
This was a huge missed opportunity for the Golden Lions beyond just a loss on their schedule. This was a chance to make a statement to prove that they were being overlooked and that they were a legit contender in the SWAC.
To not only lose, but to lose in the fashion that they did not do them any favors in getting back to the conference championship game.
2. Bowie State vs. Chowan will decide the CIAA
Through four weeks in the CIAA season, the two clear favorites in the CIAA are Northern division members the Bowie State Bulldogs and the Chowan Hawks.
Chowan is the last remaining unbeaten team in the CIAA coming off a win in its conference opener defeating the St. Augustine’s Falcons 59-12.
The Hawks are averaging 46 points per game which is tied for the fourth-highest scoring average in all of Division II scoring 40 points in each of their last three games.
Meanwhile, Bowie State has recovered well from losing their season opener to the MEAC’s Delaware State winning each of their last three games.
Saturday saw the Bulldogs win their CIAA home opener shutting out the Livingstone Blue Bears 49-0.
Bowie State has one of the top defenses in Division II ranking second in total yards allowed and in the top 20 in points allowed.
This weekend, the Hawks will face the Winston-Salem State Rams on their home field while the Bowie State Bulldogs will play in their homecoming game against the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls.
The following weekend, Bowie State will travel to North Carolina for a collision against the Chowan.
Beyond being a game that will determine who represents the CIAA North, that game could determine who ends up becoming CIAA champions at the end of the season.
3. Miles dominates Central State
The SIAC saw its fair share of blowouts this past weekend including Albany State shockingly shutting out Clark Atlanta 49-0 and Fort Valley State defeating Allen 56-20.
However, in one of the weirdest games of the weekend, the Miles Golden Bears demolished the Central State Marauders by a score of 55-4.
For those that are looking at that final score and think it was a typo; no, it is not. Central State finished the game with four points.
How did Central State score those four points? The Marauders returned an extra point for a two-point conversion in the second quarter and recorded a safety in the third quarter.
Also read: Ultimate HBCU Sports Football Poll: Division II teams continue to make progress
It’s rare for a team to record a safety in a game, but to also score on a PAT return in the same game and those be a team’s only points is almost impossible.
Meanwhile, the Golden Bears had their best performance of the season particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They forced three Marauder turnovers including an interception return for a touchdown and held them to 123 yards of total offense including just 35 rushing yards.
On offense, Miles had a big day on the ground with 226 rushing yards scoring three touchdowns.
4. Jah-Maine Martin’s slow start
Saturday saw the North Carolina A&T Aggies face off against their former MEAC rival North Carolina Eagles for the first time since leaving the conference.
In that game, the Aggies walked away with their first win of the season defeating the Eagles 37-14 on their home field.
The Aggies were spectacular outscoring North Carolina Central 30-3 through three quarters. They finished the game with 427 yards of total offense including 254 rushing yards.
Senior running back Kashon Baker was incredible for the Aggies recording 137 rushing yards on 12 attempts scoring a touchdown.
While Baker played well for the Aggies, the same could not be said for All-American Jah-Maine Martin.
Expectations were high for Martin coming into his final year with A&T off a 2019 season in which he set new school records for rushing touchdowns, average yards per carry and total touchdowns.
This season has not gotten off to the best start for Martin having just 87 rushing yards on 35 attempts through three games. In his game against the Eagles, he only posted 34 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
While Martin has already been selected to the HBCU Legacy Bowl, set to take place at the conclusion of this season, he needs to start putting together signature performances to build his draft stock heading into the offseason.
5. Kentucky State defeats Benedict in Circle City Classic
In the return of the Circle City Classic, the Kentucky State Thorobreds walked away with a 34-28 win over the Benedict Tigers.
Down 28-17 at halftime, the Thorobreds scored 17 unanswered points in the second half including 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points to secure the win.
The Thorobreds lived up to their reputation for being one of the top running teams in the country with all of their 450 yards of total offense coming on the ground including two players rushing for over 120 yards.
Running back Brett Sylve had an outrageous performance, recording 178 rushing yards on 18 attempts scoring two touchdowns.
Benedict wasn’t too shabby in defeat recording 404 yards of total offense including 290 passing yards.
Quarterback Eric Phoenix did not have his usual spectacular game but did play well completing 75% of his passes for 197 yards including a season-high 70-yard touchdown pass.