We are only two weeks into the HBCU football season and we already have so much exciting action with teams and players looking to establish themselves early.
This weekend saw a number of upsets, and head coaches securing their first wins, and electrifying performances from the brightest stars HBCUs have to offer.
Here are six takeaways from week two of the HBCU football season.
1. Virginia Union secures upset of the weekend
The Virginia Union Panthers pulled off the upset of the weekend when they defeated Division II powerhouse Valdosta State Blazers 45-40.
Since 2010, Valdosta State held a 19-1 record against HBCUs with the team’s lone loss coming against Albany State in 2017.
The Blazers held a 6-0 record against the CIAA in that time including a 3-0 record in the playoffs most recently defeating Bowie State in the NCAA Division II Playoff Quarterfinals last year.
The last time these two teams faced each other was one day short of a year prior with Valdosta State winning handedly 51-7.
After trailing 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers went to work in the second scoring 24 points to take a 24-20 lead into the half. Virginia Union lead bloomed to 18 points with 12:27 remaining in the game.
Sophomore running back Jada Byers was determined to lead his team to victory putting forth a star-making performance recording 283 rushing yards on 29 attempts scoring three touchdowns. He also led the team with three receptions scoring the team’s lone receiving touchdown.
Through two games, Byers has 381 rushing yards averaging 8.7 yards per carry and four rushing touchdowns. If he keeps up this level of production, he will be a shoe-in for the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year Award.
By virtue of their win, the Panthers are now the only undefeated team remaining in the CIAA after Bowie State and Fayetteville State each suffered their first losses of the season.
After Tennessee State put the first points on the board via a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter, Jackson State put its foot on the gas scoring 16 unanswered points forcing TSU to punt on all but one of its remaining drives in the game.
Holding a 9-3 lead heading into the final two minutes of the game, JSU sealed the victory with a 27-yard touchdown pass the lone touchdown in the game.
That touchdown pass extended the Tigers’ streak to 34 games in which they have scored a touchdown. The last time Jackson State did not score a touchdown in a game came on November 17, 2018 against Alcorn State.
Shedeur Sanders had yet another impressive outing completing 30-of-44 passes for 276 yards. Meanwhile, Delaware State transfer Sy’Veon Wilkerson made his case for being the team’s full-time starter recording 81 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
Jackson State neutralized a Tennessee State offense that recorded 547 total offense yards against nationally ranked Eastern Washington limiting them to 140 yards including just two net rushing yards.
In a game that five-star defensive back Travis Hunter sat out due to injury, former Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Nyles Gaddy anchored the defense with six tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks
3. Morgan State falls short in Battle of Greater Baltimore
The Morgan State Bears put forth a valiant effort in the Battle of Greater Baltimore against Towson but unfortunately fell short losing 29-21.
Entering this game, Morgan State had lost its last four matchups against Towson by a combined score of 119-13.
After leading for much of the contest, Morgan State was unable to stop Towson’s run game down the stretch as the Tigers scored nine unanswered points in the final 13 minutes to secure the win.
Running back Alfonzo Graham played well for the Bears amassing 89 rushing yards on 17 attempts, scoring a touchdown while adding an 18-yard receiving touchdown.
Although Morgan State quarterback Carson Baker was inefficient completing 10-of-24 passes, he did score the first two touchdowns of the season.
Despite the loss, the future is definitely bright for the Bears as they continue showing great improvement under head coach Damon Wilson.
4. Grambling State dominates in first win of the season
The Grambling State Tigers notched their first win of the season in dominant fashion defeating the Northwestern State Demons 47-21. The win is the first for head coach Hue Jackson.
Nebraska running back transfer Maurice Washington had a huge performance putting up 95 rushing yards on just five attempts, scoring two touchdowns both coming in the first quarter.
JUCO quarterback transfer Quaterius Hawkins also played well recording 293 passing yards completing 13 of his 23 pass attempts, scoring two touchdowns.
Three Grambling receivers (Lyndon Rash, JR Waters, and Chance Williams) caught passes for over 70 yards in the game.
Meanwhile, on defense, the Tigers forced four turnovers in the game including a 55-yard fumble recovery touchdown in the third quarter by linebacker Joshua Reed.
5. Lincoln (PA) snaps road losing streak
Heading back to the CIAA, the Lincoln Lions came away victorious this weekend defeating the Central State Marauders 26-21 on the road.
The win gave Lincoln its first road victory since 2015, snapping a 31-game losing streak away from their home field.
Lincoln also snapped a seven-game losing streak against non-conference Division II opponents dating back to 2016.
Saturday’s win evens the series one game apiece between these two teams as Central State defeated Lincoln 19-7 last season.
Lions junior wide receiver Dah’mear Triplett, who returned to Lincoln after transferring to Towson for two years, played well recording four catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Next week, Lincoln will remain on the road when the Lions travel to face the reigning CIAA South champion Fayetteville State.
With a win, it will be the first time the Lions have had a record above .500 since they started the 2015 season 3-2. Lincoln is also looking for their first road conference win since 2009.
6. Florida A&M enters the win column
After what has been a disastrous start to their season, the Florida A&M Rattlers have now entered the win column following a 23-13 win over the reigning SIAC champion Albany State Golden Rams.
Albany State made the Rattlers earn this win, scoring a touchdown on its first offensive possession and holding FAMU scoreless for nearly halfway through the first half.
Florida A&M began to put it together scoring 17 unanswered points in the final 7:10 of the first half to take a 17-7 lead into halftime and did not look back.
Rattlers wide receiver Xavier Smith recorded his first 100-yard game of the season with yards on eight catches. He was one of only two FAMU receivers to record more than one catch with no other player in the game tallying more than 50 receiving yards.
For the Golden Rams, their running back duo of Kamran Ward and Marcuis Fulks led the offense with the former recording 87 rushing yards while the latter had 50 rushing yards scoring two touchdowns on the ground.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced its 2023 Football Postseason Individual Awards Winners on Tuesday morning. The individual awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches and...