The first week of the HBCU football season saw some spectacular action and some surprising results that could possibly have a lasting effect going forward.
One of the most anticipated games of the weekend did not exactly live up to its billing, a rivalry game saw the snap of a long losing streak, and a turnover fest bogs down one of the more important games of the weekend.
Here are seven takeaways from week one of the HBCU football season.
The win gave the Bulldogs their 21st consecutive win on their home field and their 24th straight regular-season win against a Division II opponent. Not to mention this is the first win under interim head coach Kyle Jackson.
Through the first three quarters of the game, things were not exactly going Bowie State’s way. The offense was struggled to produce big plays and was forced to punt on ten of their first 11 possessions including seven three-and-outs.
Meanwhile, the defense had a hard time stopping New Haven’s passing attack. To compound the Bulldogs’ defensive woes, all-conference defensive back Raymond Boone was ejected in the third quarter after being flagged for targeting.
All of BSU’s misfortunes changed in the fourth quarter thanks to back-to-back touchdown drives on offense to take a 19-17 lead with 7:05 remaining in the game.
Things looked bleak for the Bulldogs when New Haven drove down the field scoring on a field to take back the lead with just 1:27 remaining.
However, the reigning CIAA champs showed their championship pedigree scoring a touchdown on a 10-play 73-yard drive and securing the two-point conversion to escape with a 27-20 win.
3. Tennessee State’s offense is legit
Although Tennessee State lost their season opener 36-29 to the 13th-ranked Eastern Washington, the biggest positive to take from the game was the performance of the Tigers’ offense.
The Tennessee State offense was absolutely spectacular recording 547 total offensive yards with the star of the game being junior running back Devon Starling.
Austin Peay quarterback transfer Draylen Ellis had a huge performance in his Tennessee State debut going for 257 passing yards on 17-for-27 passing scoring two touchdowns. He added 82 rushing yards to his totals and a rushing touchdown.
Senior wide receivers Zack Dobson and Cam Wyche combined for 13 catches for 227 yards each scoring a touchdown.
Next week, the TSU offense will be put to the ultimate test when the Tigers face a fierce Jackson State defense in the Southern Heritage Classic. TSU will be looking for its first win against Jackson State since 2017.
4. Virginia Union opens season with huge blowout win
The Panthers’ offense was locked in recording 489 yards of total offense good for 8.0 yards per offensive play. The offense accounted for eight of the team’s 11 touchdowns in the game (three on special teams).
Virginia Union quarterback Jahkari Grant was the star of the game throwing for 301 yards completing 15 of his 20 pass attempts scoring four touchdowns.
Junior receiver John Jiles played a huge role in Grant’s success through the air with five receptions for 100 yards reaching the end zone twice.
On the ground, Jada Byers also had a big game amassing 98 rushing yards on 15 attempts and a touchdown.
The Virginia Union defense put tremendous pressure on Virginia University of Lynchburg’s quarterbacks recording eight sacks. Six players put forth a sack in the game in addition to two players with a half sack.
5. North Carolina Central snaps Aggie-Eagle Classic losing streak
The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Eagles against the Aggies. The last time NC Central beat A&T was in 2016, coincidentally the last time Central won the MEAC title.
This is also the first time a MEAC team has beaten North Carolina A&T since Morgan State pulled off an upset win in November 2019.
The Eagles scored more points in this game against North Carolina A&T than they did in their last four meetings combined (24).
North Carolina Central won despite the fact that A&T outgained the Eagles 357 to 269 yards of total offense. The Aggies were also able to get after the quarterback recording three sacks without giving up one themselves.
Junior quarterback Davius Richard had arguably the best outing of his career accounting for all four of the Eagles’ touchdowns in the game (two passing and two rushing) posting 254 yards of total offense.
North Carolina Central will match up with another rival next week when they face Winston-Salem State in their home opener. Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T will clash with the reigning FCS national champion North Dakota State.
6. Hampton escapes with a win in the Battle of the Real HU
In one of the most historic rivalries in the HBCU community, Howard very nearly completed a huge comeback but ultimately fell short losing 31-28 against Hampton.
This loss is the sixth straight for the Bison against their HU rival. They have not earned a win over Hampton since 2015.
With 6:51 left in the game, a Hampton field goal gave the Pirates a 31-13 lead with 6:51 left in the game. With their backs against the wall, senior quarterback Quinton Williams threw two touchdowns (four total in the game) and converted on a two-point conversion to cut the lead to three with 1:32 left.
After forcing Hampton to punt, Howard got the ball back with 18 seconds left with one more opportunity for victory. The Bison were able to complete two passes up to their own 44-yard line but were unsuccessful in a hook and ladder attempt to end the game.
The run game of Hampton took center stage accounting for 187 yards on the ground led by junior Darren Butts who had 75 yards scoring a touchdown.
7. Turnover-heavy Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic
This game was not pretty in the slightest with each team recording four turnovers in the game. This included three fumbles lost by the Rams and three interceptions by the Marauders.
In addition to turnovers, penalties were also an issue with each team committing 15 in the game for a combined 262 yards.
Central State got off to a hot start when Twon Hines returned the opening kickoff 81 yards setting up a seven-yard touchdown pass.
After an offensive drive in which Winston-Salem State was forced to punt, things got sloppy on both sides. Both teams committed turnovers in each of their next two drives including a pick-six by each team.
This set the tone for what was a battle between two teams struggling to execute their game plan on offense. In the end, three second-half touchdowns secured the victory for Central State, which was the first win for first-year head coach Kevin Porter.