The end of the college football season is getting closer and there is now a heightened sense of urgency.
Tight divisional races in the SWAC West and CIAA North could be decided next weekend, and several matchups in the MEAC could prove critical in determining which team wins the conference.
Here are takeaways from Week 8 of the HBCU football season.
Jackson State wins over Campbell
Reigning SWAC champion Jackson State kept its undefeated run alive with a 22-14 win over Campbell.
Sy’Veon Wilkerson played big for the Tigers, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was the sophomore running back’s second 100-yard game of the season.
Shedeur Sanders had a solid outing, with 233 passing yards and a 48-yard touchdown pass to tight end D.J. Stevens.
Five-star recruit Travis Hunter returned to the lineup for Jackson State for the first time since the Orange Blossom Classic. He saw time as a wide receiver and defensive back, catching four passes for 24 yards on offense and recording four tackles on defense.
Aubrey Miller anchored the defense with 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack.
North Carolina A&T wins fourth straight
North Carolina A&T increased its win streak to four games after defeating Robert Morris 38-14 to improve to 4-3. The win also improves A&T’s record to 2-0 in the Big South.
Quarterback Jalen Fowler had his best performance of the year throwing for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Fowler’s top receiver, Zachary Leslie, caught seven passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, running back Bhayshul Tyten recorded 139 rushing yards on 23 attempts, good for his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game. He also caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
The Aggies will look to extend their win streak to five games when they play their homecoming game against Campbell.
Tennessee State runs winning streak to three
Another team riding a major win streak is Tennessee State after beating Eastern Illinois 37-17. It was the Tigers’ third consecutive and moved them to 2-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Draylen Ellis had his best game of the year with 309 passing yards and three TDs.
However, it was Tennessee State’s defense that made the biggest impact in the game, recording six total sacks, forcing four turnovers, and limiting Eastern Illinois to just 188 offensive yards.
The unit was led by junior defensive lineman Terrell Allen who finished with six tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.
Tennessee State looks to remain on a roll when they go on the road to face Murray State.
South Carolina State upends North Carolina Central
In an important game that could very well decide who wins the MEAC, South Carolina State’s hopes for repeating as conference champions took a huge step forward after topping North Carolina Central, 26-24.
With 2:28 remaining in the game, Duane Nichols made the biggest play of the game by intercepting a Davius Richard pass in the end zone.
SC State quarterback Corey Fields helped lead his team to victory with 264 passing yards and three touchdowns.
He was aided by top receiver Shaquan Davis, who caught six passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Kendrell Flowers chipped in with 79 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Virginia Union, Chowan enter clash for CIAA North crown
Saturday saw Virginia Union and Chowan each secure wins leading into a clash next week that will determine who represents the CIAA North in the conference championship game.
VUU improved to 8-0 on the season following a 45-20 road victory against Lincoln (PA). This is the sixth time in eight games the Panthers have scored over 40 or more points.
Sophomore Jada Byers was spectacular once again rushing for 187 yards and four touchdowns. He is now 100 yards away from setting a new school record for rushing yards in a season set in 2000.
Meanwhile, Chowan handed Bowie State their second straight home loss defeating them 21-15 to improve to 5-1 in CIAA play.
Next Saturday, these two teams will clash on Virginia Union’s home field. Virginia Union will clinch the division outright if it beats Chowan. Chowan would need a win over VUU and then in the season finale against Elizabeth City State.
Tuskegee maintains SIAC West lead with comeback win
In the SIAC West, Tuskegee maintained their division lead after overcoming a 10-point deficit to defeat Lane, 35-31.
Trailing 24-14 in the third quarter, the Golden Tigers scored 14 unanswered points to take the lead. However, Lane answered with a touchdown of their own with 5:21 remaining in regulation to regain the advantage.
Tuskegee put the game away for good following a go-ahead one-yard rushing touchdown by Bryson Williams with 2:38 left in regulation.
Shaw sets school record in win
Shaw snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday defeating Livingstone on homecoming.
Shaw’s win was highlighted by a big performance on the ground by junior running back Andre Brandon Jr. who got the start in place of Sidney Gibbs.
Brandon took full advantage of the opportunity tallying 306 rushing yards on 49 attempts and two touchdowns.
Texas Southern ends long losing streak over Alcorn State
In a tight SWAC West division, Texas Southern Tigers has made things after stunning Alcorn State.
Texas Southern got a huge performance from their defense and special teams. The Tigers’ defense forced three interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown) while the special teams got a 73-yard punt return touchdown from Chaunzavia Lewis.
Andrew Body led the way for the offense with 97 passing yards and a touchdown along with 79 rushing yards.
The Tigers improve to 3-2 in the conference while Alcorn drops to 2-2. Texas Southern now not only holds the tiebreaker against the Braves but also has it over the current division leader Southern.