By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO
Three conference-opening wins were highlighted in a stunning upset of the defending HBCU National Champion and fourth ranked team in FCS (Division I-AA) football.
Morgan St. Ends NC&T Run in MEAC
Morgan State ended North Carolina A&T’s two year undefeated tear through Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents when Alex Raya kicked a walk off 36-yard field goal as time expired to give them a 16-13 win in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Bears victory ended two Aggie record setting win streaks spanning the last two seasons. NC A&T previously won 15 consecutive games dating back to 2016, which was the longest streak in the nation. That streak included wins over FBS (Division I-A) opponent East Carolina and then 6th ranked Jacksonville St. earlier this year. It also ended their 11 game home game win streak, which was the longest in school history.
Morgan State defeated North Carolina A&T 16-13 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy Image/Logo)
Raya’s game winner came after he previously made kicks of 40 and 51 yards which tied the game at 13 early in the fourth quarter. Morgan’s defense shutout A&T in the fourth period and the Bears offense outgained them 270-208 as they wore down the Aggies.
“We felt good about coming in here and staying true to who we are and we’re getting better and better,” said Morgan’s interim head coach Ernest Jones. “We got better from week one to week two, week two to week three, and now week three to week four and it finally turned into a W.”
Morgan stayed true to Jones’ preseason script of running the football and playing tough defense. The Bears won the time of possession battle 35:56 – 24:04 against the tiring A&T defense.
This game didn’t count in the conference standings. Since neither Morgan nor NCA&T would’ve have played Hampton – who joined the Big South this year – the MEAC deemed it a non-conference matchup so it doesn’t count toward the conference championship. However, Morgan is ineligible for the postseason after failing to meet NCAA APR requirements but, A&T is still in contention to return to the Celebration Bowl to defend its HBCU national championship.
Next: SC State (Oct. 6 Homecoming)
Howard Beats BCU in Circle City Classic
Howard coach Mike London had been waiting with great anticipation to participate in the experience of an HBCU Classic since taking the job on the hilltop. The second-year coach, and previous FCS national champion, led his team to a 41-35 win over Bethune Cookman in the 35th Circle City Classic in Indianapolis, which was the MEAC opener for both schools.
The Bison generated 502 yards of total offense, once again led by sophomore quarterback Cailyn Newton who passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Josiah Crute, from D.C.’s Friendship Collegiate high school, was their top rusher with 83 yards on 11 carries, including two scores. Howard ran for 225 yards and converted nine of 18 third down chances and both opportunities on fourth down.
Next: N.C. Central (Oct. 6)
BOWIE STATE ESCAPES AT ST. AUG IN CIAA OPENER
Perhaps Bowie State was tired after spending their first month of the season on the road or it was hard to get motivated for a winless opponent. However, for the second straight week the Bulldogs almost squandered a big lead but held on for a 32-22 win against winless St. Augustine’s in Raleigh, North Carolina in their CIAA opener.
Senior Amir Hall was outstanding once again, passing for 354 yards, and three touchdowns to lead the Bowie State offense. The Bulldogs combo of redshirt senior Gilbert Lunsford and redshirt sophomore Montez Clay combined for 220 reception yards.
Next: Winston Salem State (Oct. 28)