Near the halfway point of the HBCU football season and this might have been the most exciting week we have had so far.
There were some dramatic finishes, huge blowouts and a big DII-FCS upset.
Here are the five takeaways from the latest Saturday of the HBCU football season.
Lane upsets Tennessee State
The Lane Dragons pulled off the upset of the weekend on Saturday defeating Tennessee State 28-27 in the John Merritt Classic.
This game was the first John Merritt Classic Tennessee State has played since 2019, having won five of the last six. This was also the second straight season the Tigers have played a team in the SIAC, defeating Kentucky State 41-7 last year.
With 17 seconds remaining in the game, Tennessee State’s Kaleb Mosley connected on a 51-yard field goal to tie the score at 20 to force overtime.
In overtime, both teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions before Lane won the game on a two-yard run by running back Ike Brown on a two-point conversion attempt.
The Dragons won despite being outgained 344-268. This included Tennessee State recording 252 rushing yards without leading rusher Devon Starling.
The key to Lane’s victory was two huge defensive stops both of which were returned for touchdowns. The first came on a 21-yard fumble recovery on their first possession on defense and the second a 57-yard pick-six before the half.
Tennessee State, now 0-4, continues to search for its first win of the season. They will look to get the job done next week at Bethune-Cookman.
North Carolina Central suffers disappointing first loss
The North Carolina Central Eagles suffered their first loss of the season in disappointing fashion losing 48-18 against the Campbell Camels.
This was the Eagles’ first loss dating back to October 30, 2021, against South Carolina State.
Leading 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, Campbell blew the game open in the second quarter outscoring the Eagles 24-6.
The Eagles were outmatched by the size of the Camels’ offensive line who opened up running lanes to the tune of 283 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Not only is this the first loss of the season for North Carolina Central, this is the first game in which they trailed at any point in any outing.
The good news for NCCU is this game has no impact on the MEAC championship race. That begins Oct. 13 when the Eagles return from a bye to play its conference home opener against Morgan State
Benedict wins battle of unbeatens
The Benedict Tigers kept their unbeaten run going in dominant fashion defeating the Fort Valley State Wildcats 45-13.
Leading 20-6 at the half, Benedict put any chance of a Fort Valley State comeback to rest with a 20-point third quarter.
The run included Tigers’ running back Zaire Scotland scoring two rushing touchdowns in the quarter bringing his total to three on the day.
Quarterback Eric Phoenix added 142 passing yards completing 14-of-24 passes and two touchdowns while also leading the team with 83 rushing yards on seven attempts.
Benedict’s defense limited Fort Valley State to a season-low 207 yards of total offense.
Although Benedict is the last remaining undefeated team in the SIAC overall, they are one of two remaining undefeated teams in the SIAC East along with conference champion Albany State.
The Tigers will look to remain unbeaten when they host the Miles before going on the road for a clash with Albany State in what could determine who represents the East Division in the SIAC title game.
Virginia State defeats Shaw in final minute
The Virginia State Trojans endured a shootout against the Shaw Bears, winning 28-24 extending its win streak to four games.
Trailing 24-21 with 3:12 remaining in the game, quarterback Jordan Davis methodically drove the ball down field culminating in a four-yard go-ahead rushing touchdown for the victory.
Davis finished the game with 257 passing yards, completing 16-of-31 passes for two touchdowns. He also added two rushing TDs.
Virginia State will look to keep its win streak alive when they play VSU plays its first division contest of the season against Bowie State.
Central State defeats Allen in last-second thriller
The Central State Marauders won a down-to-the-wire win 35-32 on Saturday over Allen.
The win ends a three-game slide for the Marauders and ends its nine-game conference losing streak dating back to 2019.
The back-and-forth affair between these two teams looked like it would go the Yellow Jackets’ way.
Allen forced five Marauder turnovers that led to a pair of touchdowns. This included an 84-yard pick-six and a fumble recovery touchdown that gave the Yellow Jackets a 32-28 lead with 5:33 remaining in the game.
Central State, however, held the ball for the remainder of the game methodically driving the ball down the field before scoring a touchdown with just two seconds in regulation.
Normally not a run-first team, it was running back Kaz Dina who was the star of the game for the Marauders. He posted 161 rushing yards on 15 attempts and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Bowie State extends home win streak
Bowie State celebrated their homecoming in style dismantling the Livingstone Blue Bears 53-7. The win extended Bowie State’s regular season home winning streak to 24 games.
Dion Golatt set a Bowie State single-game passing record with 439 yards surpassing the previous mark held by former two-time Black College Football Player of the Year Amir Hall.
The Bulldogs did the most damage in the second quarter, scoring 29 points, a season-high.
Meanwhile, the BSU defense had yet another spectacular outing holding the Blue Bears to just 108 yards of total offense. They recorded four sacks, three interceptions and two safeties.
Southern demolishes UAPB
Coming off a 24-0 shutout loss against Texas Southern, Southern bounced back in a major way with a 59-3 blowout win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Jaguars blew the game open between the second and third quarter, outscoring the Golden Lions 49-0.
Southern gained 550 yards of total offense led by quarterback Besean McCray, who had 320 total yards (241 passing and 79 rushing) and accounted for five total touchdowns.
Freshman running back Kendric Rhymes contributed 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns and a receiving score.
Meanwhile, Southern’s defense forced five Arkansas-Pine Bluff turnovers, including four interceptions. Two of the four interceptions for the Jags were returned for over 50 yards, including a 62-yard TD by Corione Harris. They also tallied three sacks and held UAPB to just three rushing yards on 20 attempts.
Virginia Union shuts out St. Augustine’s
The Virginia Union Panthers kept their undefeated record with ease coasting to a 69-0 victory over the St. Augustine’s Falcons.
This is the Panthers’ second shutout win of the season coming by margins of at least 60 points.
Panthers running back Jada Byers continues to be the frontrunner for the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year award after compiling 114 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Jakhari Grant chipped in 247 passing yards attempts and a season-high four touchdowns.
Virginia Union’s defense limited St. Augustine’s to 167 offensive yards recording four sacks and two interceptions along the way.