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After a pair of nail-biter victories to start the season North Carolina A&T State steam\rolled Gardner-Webb to the tune of 45-6 Saturday in the Aggies’ home opener.

The victory extended the sixth-ranked Aggies’ winning streak to 15 consecutive games, the longest in the FCS.

Kashon Baker’s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown opened the scoring flood gates for the Aggies (3-0). Gardner-Webb (1-1) played the Aggies on fairly even terms in the first quarter but trailed 7-3 when the period ended. Baker’s touchdown seemed to deflate the Runnin’ Bulldogs, who had a pair of impressive drives in the first half before settling for field goals each time as the Aggies’ defense stiffened near the goal line.

Trailing 7-0  after Jah-Main Martin scored on a 28-yard run for the Aggies on the opening possession, the Runniin’ Bulldogs put together a 13-play, 73 yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock the first time they had the ball, but they ended up kicking a field goal.

Baker’s touchdown return pushed the North Carolina A&T lead to 14-3 with 4:37 left in the second quarter, and the Aggies led 17-6 at the half after the teams traded field goals.

North Carolina A&T pulled away in the second half on the strength of its running game and defense, scoring 28 unanswered points. Marquell Cartwright, the leading rusher in the MEAC last season with 1,190 yards, topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this season as he gouged the Runnin’ Bulldogs for 119 yards on 15 carries; Martin added 93 yards on just eight carries, and he scored a pair of touchdowns. Cartwright had been held to a total of 126 in the Aggies’ first two games. The Aggies ended the game with 283 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, their defense made Gardner-Webb’s offense one-dimensional, holding the Runnin’ Bulldogs to 14 rushing yards. The Runnin’ Bulldogs were only slightly more effective throwing the ball. They mustered 192 yards through the air while completing 14 of 29 attempts.  They also allowed four sacks.

KEY GAMES

 Tuskegee 20, Albany State 0 – The Golden Tigers overcame an ineffective offensive performance to win the penalty-filled White Water Classic in Phenix City, Ala., in a possible preview of the SIAC Championship Game. Tuskegee (2-0) is the defending conference champion and the preseason pick to repeat as West Division champs; Albany State (0-2) is the preseason pick to unseat Fort Valley State as East Division champs. The contest doesn’t count in the conference standings. The teams were flagged for 22 penalties and 234 yards combined. Tuskegee hit double digits in penalties (10) and triple digits in penalty yards (123) for the second consecutive week.

The Golden Tigers were penalized 19 times for 185 yards in their season-opening loss to Alabama State. Tuskegee’s defense made up for any offensive deficiencies against Albany State. The Golden Tigers limited Albany State to 192 total yards, including only 91 passing with three interceptions. Rorick Steward put the finishing touches on the Golden Tigers’ defensive effort with a fourth-quarter 35-yard interception return for a touchdown to end the scoring. Tuskegee‘s running game was just as ineffective as Albany State’s passing attack, only generating 58 yards. Quarterback Jamarcus Ezell had a strong game for the Golden Tigers. Ezell completed 11 of 15 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, a 31-yard strike to Chardian Johnson. Ahmad DeRamus, Ezell’s backup, also had a 31-yard touchdown pass to Javarrius Cheatham. Both scores came in the second quarter.

 Bowie State 38, Alderson Broaddus 31 – Quarterback Amir Hall, the 2017 Black College Football Player of the Year, threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns as the Bulldogs (1-1) held on for non-conference road win. Bowie State had a three-touchdown lead with 4:06 left in the third quarter after Hall threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Montez Clay. Alderson Broaddus scored three times in the fourth quarter, with their final touchdown coming at the 3:47 mark, to get back in the game.

 Alcorn State 78, Louisiana College 0 – The Braves set a single-game school scoring record in their home victory. Alcorn (1-1) scored on 12 of its 15 possession with 11 touchdowns and a field goal. The Braves, who had 629 total yards, led 27-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Bethune-Cookman 79, Virginia-Lynchburg 16 – The Wildcats scored 30 points in the first quarter en route to their highest scoring performance since 1925 in their home victory. The first quarter outburst was the most points in a quarter for Bethune-Cookman (1-1) since the Wildcats scored 28 points in the second quarter against Grambling State in 2015. Quarterback Arkevious Williams had a breakout performance. He completed 12 of 13 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, all careers highs.

Jackson State vs. Tennessee State, cancelled, weather – The 29th Southern Heritage Classic at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., was cancelled after more than three hours of lightning delays. Fred Jones, the game’s founder, and the presidents of both schools considered rescheduling the contest for Sunday. But that idea was nixed because the forecast called for foul weather on that day as well. The schools’ schedules wouldn’t accommodate the game be rescheduled for later in the season. Tennessee State has a five-game winning streak in the rivalry.

OTHER RESULTS

MEAC

Akron 41, Morgan State 0

Central Florida 38, South Carolina State 0

James Madison 17, Norfolk State 0, Game called off after 1st quarter due to lightning

Kent State 54, Howard 14

Miami (Fla.) 77, Savannah State 0

North Carolina Central 51, Saint Augustine’s 14

Saint Francis (Pa.) 45, Delaware State 14

Troy 38, Florida A&M 0

SWAC

Auburn 63, Alabama State 9

Jacksonville State 71, Mississippi Valley State 0

Louisiana Tech 54, Southern 17

North Alabama 25, Alabama A&M 20

Northwestern State 34, Grambling State 7

Sam Houston State 41, Prairie View A&M 32

Texas State 26, Texas Southern 7

CIAA

Carson-Newman 33, Virginia Union 29

Catawba 34, Winston-Salem State 7

Central Connecticut State 55, Lincoln (Pa.) 0

Davidson 49, Chowan 28

UNC Pembroke 51, Elizabeth City State 6

Shaw 27, Mars Hill 0

Wingate 27, Fayetteville State 13

SIAC

Benedict 42, Johnson C. Smith 14

Central State 7, Clark Atlanta 0

Livingstone 19, Allen 0

McKendree 34, Kentucky State 17

Morehouse 42, Lane 20

West Alabama 37, Miles 21

OTHERS

Edward Waters 17, Point 10

Langston 63, Ottawa 56

Missouri State 52, Lincoln (Mo.) 24

Monmouth 56, Hampton 28

West Virginia State 33, Virginia-Wise 12

Roscoe Nance is a veteran freelance sports journalist who has covered Black College Football throughout his 43-year career. He retired from USA TODAY after writing for the Nation’s Newspaper for 21 years, during which time he covered college sports, soccer, tennis and the NBA. He has also written for The Columbus (Ga.) Enquirer and The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.

The Tuskegee (Institute) University graduate, who hails from Union Springs, Ala., was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2014 for his coverage of the conference during his time writing for The Clarion-Ledger. He currently co-hosts the online sports talk show Express Yourself With T-Ramone And Sco with Atlanta sports journalist Tim Turner, and he is Chairman of the Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

 

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