It’s official. The MEAC championship race will be dogfight. Florida A&M guaranteed as much Saturday with it’s 22-21 come-from-behind road victory against defending conference champion North Carolina A&T, the preseason pick to win it all again this season.
The victory, the fourth in a row for the Rattlers (5-2, 3-0 MEAC), leaves them alone atop the MEAC standings. North Carolina A&T (4-2, 2-1 MEAC), the defending Black College Champions and ranked No. 10 in the FCS polls, is in a six-way tie for second place with Bethune-Cookman, Howard, Morgan State and North Carolina Central.
Florida A&M erased a 21-6 halftime lead and walked away with the victory on Yahia Aly’s field goal with 26 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Ryan Stanley was there for the Rattlers.
He completed 28 of his 53 pass attempts for 313 yards and one touchdown. Florida A&M needed Stanley to come up big because the Rattlers’ running game was virtually non-existent. North A&T limited Florida A&M to 57 yards on the ground and 2.1 yards a carry.
Florida A&M’s rush defense was equally as stingy, limiting the Aggies to just 74 yards and 2.6 yards a carry.
“We overcame some early adversity,’’ said Florida A&M coach Willie Simmons. “These guys never quit. We tell them keep playing football, good things will happen for us. They showed how resilient they are. They showed they can overcome any adversity that comes their way. I’m just happy to see the result of a hard-fought football game against a really good North Carolina A&T football team.’’
The Aggies shot themselves in the foot with 13 penalties for 131 yards. They also committed a pair of turnovers.
Southern 38, Prairie View A&M 0 – The visiting Jaguars pounded the Panthers into submission with a devastating running game while dealing their first SWAC loss of the season. Sophomore quarterback Ladarius Skelton had virtuoso performance for Southern (3-3, 2-1 SWAC) with 370 yards total offense. Skelton run for a game-high 202 yards as the Jaguars totaled 350 yards on the ground while rolling to their first shutout victory since they blanked Mississippi Valley State during the 2016 season.
Offense had been the calling card for Prairie View (3-4, 2-1) through its first six games with running back Dewonya Tucker leading the way. Tucker entered the game with 802 yards rushing, tops in the conference, but the Jaguars held him to just 10 yards on 17 carries.
Quarterback Jalen Morton, the leading passer in the conference, tried to pick up the load for the Panthers. Morton threw for 251 yards, but he had a season-high five interception and only throwing two in the first six games. Jakoby Pappilion intercepted Morton twice. Southern’s victory creates a three-way tie for the top spot in the SWAC West with the Jaguars, Prairie View and Grambling State sharing the lead with one conference loss each.
Bethune-Cookman 28, South Carolina State 26 – The Wildcats thwarted a two-point conversion to hold on for an MEAC victory in Orangeburg, S. C. Bethune-Cookman (4-3, 2-1 MEAC) led 25-6 in the second quarter before South Carolina State (1-5, 1-2 MEAC) mounted. Quarterback Akevious Williams sparked the Wildcats with 110 yards rushing, including second-quarter touchdown runs of 31 and 26 yards.
Trevor Merritt returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter for his second straight game with a pick six, and Uriel Hernandez kicked a pair of field goals for the Wildcats other points.
South Carolina State quarterback Tyrece Nick put the Bulldogs in position to tie the scored with a one-yard touchdown plunge with 2:32 remaining in the game, his second touchdown of the game. But Tydarius Peters forced Nick to fumble the ball on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt and Todney Evans recovered it for the Wildcats to preserve the lead.
Virginia Union 48, Chowan 38 – The Panthers remained unbeaten in the CIAA and claimed sole possession of first place in the North Division with a road win. Running back Tabyus Taylor ran for 177 yards and four touchdowns for Virginia Union (5-1, 4-0 CIAA). Taylor is the first Panther with four rushing touchdowns in a game since Cassious McDowell turned the trick in 2014.
Taylor has rushed for 15 touchdowns, tying him for No. 2 on the Panthers’ single season list with Jeff Haynes who also had 15 rushing touchdowns n 1983. Andre Braxton set the record with 26 in 2000. Quarterback Bryce Witt passed for 241 yards and three touchdowns for Chowan (2-4, 1-2 CIAA), and running back Tyrell Freeman 192 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries as the Braves rolled up 521 yards total offense. But Chowan was undone by four turnovers.
Lincoln (Pa.) 21, Elizabeth City State 21 – The Lions had a trifecta as they held on to defeat the Vikings. The win was the first of the season for Lincoln (1-6, 1-3 CIAA); it was their first ever against Elizabeth City (1-4, 0-3 CIAA) and it came on Homecoming. Lincoln took a 14-0 first-quarter lead and was on top 21-7 at the half. The Vikings rallied in the second half, but their comeback attempt ended when they turned the ball over on downs at their 23 yard line with 1:40 left in the game.
Albany State 41, Morehouse 19 – The Golden Rams knocked the Maroon Tigers from the unbeaten ranks with resounding victory in an SIAC contest in Atlanta that was rescheduled to Sunday because of damage from Hurricane Michael in the Albany, Ga., area.
Albany State (4-3, 3-0 SIAC) remains tied with Benedict for the top spot in the SIAC East. Morehouse (5-1, 2-1 SIAC) had been the only remaining unbeaten team among HBCUs. Quarterback Kelias Williams passed for a career-high 254 yards three touchdowns as the Golden Rams rang up 472 yards total offense. Albany State led 17-7 at the half and put the game out of reach with a 21-point third-quarter outburst.
Howard 55, Delaware State 13
Morgan State 18, Savannah State 11
Alcorn State 35, Alabama State 26
Grambling State 34, Texas Southern 21
Jackson State 23, Mississippi Valley State 7
South Alabama 45, Alabama State 7
Bowie State 21, Virginia State 15
Fayetteville State 70, Johnson C. Smith 6
Shaw 37, Livingstone 28
Virginia Union 48, Chowan 38
Winston-Salem State 36, Saint Augustine’s 6
Benedict 24, Clark Atlanta 27
Central State 44, UNC Pembroke 38
Lane 13, Allen 3
Miles 24, Kentucky State 21
Tuskegee 17, Fort Valley State 6
Charleston Southern 58, Virginia-Lynchburg 6
Edwards Waters 15, Faulkner 13
Hampton 24, Presbyterian 23
Langston 38, Arizona Christian 17
Ottawa 63, Texas College 14
Truman State 20, Lincoln (Mo.) 13
West Virginia State 52, Concord 24
- Clark Atlanta QB Charles Stafford completed 21 of 36 attempts for 397 yards and one TD.
- Miles QB Daniel Smith compleed 23 of 28 attempts for 354 yards and three TDs.
- Shaw QB Keon Marsh completed 26 of 36 attempts for 323 yards and three TDs.
- Howard QB Caylin Newton completed 10 of 24 attempts for 313 yards and five TDs.
- Winston-Salem State QB Dominique Graves completed 15 of 19 attempts for 311 yards and 1 TD.
- Tennessee State QB Micheal Hughes completed 30 of 45 attempts for 307 yards and two TDs.
- Central State QB Trent Mays completed 14 of 24 passes for 284 yards and two TDs.
- Howard WR Jequez Hazzard had four receptions for 191 yards and three TDs.
- Winston-Salem State WR Quincy Jackson had five receptions for 175 yards.
- Hampton RB Will Robinson rushed for a career-high 154 yards.
- Central State WR Kevin Greenhow had four receptions for 152 yards and two TDs.
- Jackson State RB Jordan Johnson rushed for 134 yards on 22 carries.
- Alcorn State RB De’Shawn Waller rushed for 133 yards and two TDs on 21 carries.
- Miles WR Malik Campbell had four receptions for 129 yards and one TD.
- Tennessee State WR Chris Rowland had 13 receptions for 128 yards and one TD.
- Grambling State WR Devante Davis had seven receptions for 124yards and returned a blocked punt for a TD.
- Fayetteville State RB Stevie Green rushed for 121 yards and one TD on 21 carries.
- Central State RB Terraris Saffold rushed for 106 yards and three TDs on 24 carries
- Fayetteville State RB Brandon Smith returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a TD.
- Alabama State P Anthony Craven averaged 45.9 yards on seven kicks with a long of 80 yards and three punts downed inside the 20.
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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