Led by quarterback Davius Richard, NC Central will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season against an improving Morgan State team that features MEAC top rusher, Alfonzo Graham, in primetime.
In its only defeat to date, the NC Central defense was unable to control the line of scrimmage against Campbell, giving up 315 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground in a 48-18 loss on Oct. 1.
Prior to the outing versus Campbell, the Eagles had allowed under three yards per attempt before the Camels torched them for an average of 6.3 yards on 50 combined rushing attempts.
Morgan State running back Alfonzo Graham leads the MEAC with 542 total yards on a gaudy 7.2 yards a carry and could give NC Central a problem if the defense isn’t able to get in the backfield early and often.
“He’s going to get our undivided attention,” Oliver said Monday about trying to contain Graham. “He’s great inside the tackles with his vision, his balance and his physicality. And then on the perimeter, he can fly.”
Morgan State has won seven of the past 13 meetings in the series, but NC Central has taken the last four since 2018.
PLAYER TO WATCH
If Morgan State is to beat NC Central on Thursday, Bears linebacker Lawrence Richardson will probably have a say in it.
The junior is tied for first in the FCS with 29 solo tackles and is the catalyst for a defense that ranks in the top 30 nationally in rushing defense (No. 26) and passing efficiency defense (No. 39).
Richardson will likely be tasked with the responsibility of playing in space to defend the pass and keeping an eye on NC Central dual-threat quarterback Davius Richard.
What has made NC Central so successful through the first five weeks has been the play of Richard. The junior QB is second in the MEAC in passing with 1,049 yards to go along with nine TDs and a conference-leading 143.6 passing efficiency rating.
Richard does not only do it with his arm, but he is also dangerous when he uses his legs to make plays. He is the second-ranked MEAC rusher, with 286 total yards, No. 2 in yards per attempt (6.0), and tops all ball carriers with six rushing touchdowns.
“We have to make him one-dimensional,” Morgan State head coach Damon Wilson said. “We can’t let him come in the game and do everything that he likes to do. He has the ability to run the ball and has a tremendous amount of arm talent. But if we play sound defense, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to be successful.”
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Site: O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, Durham, N.C.
Records: N.C. Central (4-1 overall, 0-0 MEAC); Morgan State (2-3, 0-1 MEAC)
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