Morgan State flipped the script Saturday in Greensboro, N. C.
The Bears, picked last in the MEAC preseason poll by conference coaches and Sports Information Directors, upset defending Black College National Champion North Carolina A&T 16-13 for their first victory of the season on Alex Raya’s 36-yard field goal as time expired.
The loss in the non-conference contest ended a 15-game-winning streak – the longest in the FCS — for the Aggies (3-1), who were ranked No. 4 in the FCS and were gunning for a school record 12th straight home win. It also ended their streak of 39 straight victories when leading after three quarters. The last time the Aggies lost after leading entering in the fourth quarter was Nov. 9, 2013 at Morgan State when Chris Moller kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired.
Raya’s winning kick was his third field goal of the game. He booted a career-best 51-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter that tied the score. He kicked his first field goal of the season in the third quarter. Morgan State’s only touchdown came on quarterback DeAndre Harris’ 10-yard run in the first quarter, which gave the Bears (1-3) a 7-6 lead.
“What a great game,’’ said Morgan State interim coach Ernest T. Jones. “We were playing against the No.1 football team in the country in our minds. The thing that we liked the most about it is that we stayed true to our identity. We said we wanted to run the football on offense against the No. 1 run defense in the conference, and we ran the football. And then we wanted to put our quarterback on the move and let him throw, and we did that. And on defense, we said we were going to get after the quarterback and he’s going to have to get the ball out of his hands, and we were going to tackle the running back, which we did that.’’
Morgan State held the Aggies to 208 yards total offense.
North Carolina A&T scored touchdowns on a 23-yard pass from Kylil Carter to Leroy Hill in the second quarter and a 19-yard run by Marquel Cartwright in the third quarter that put the Aggies ahead 13-10 The Aggies’ two-point conversion attempt following their first touchdown failed.
North Carolina A&T had an opportunity to regain the lead following Raya’s game-tying field goal. The Aggies drove 49 yards in 14 before settling for a 43-yard field goal attempt by Noel Ruiz with 3:19 remaining in the game was off target.
“We felt good about coming in here and staying true to who we are and we’re getting better and better,’’ Jones said. “We got better from Week 1 to Week 2, Week 2 to Week 3, and now week 3 to Week 4 and it finally turned into a W.”
Howard 41, Bethune-Cookman 35 – Caylin Newton, the Bison’s sophomore sensation quarterback (and yes, he’s Cam Newton’s younger brother) threw for 301 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a shootout victory in the 35th Circle City Classic in Indianapolis. Howard (1-2, 1-0 MEAC) never trailed and led by 14 points in the second quarter, 28-14, after Jalen Smith returned an interception 38 yards for touchdown.
The Wildcats (1-3, o-1 MEAC) responded with a 99-yard touchdown return by Jimmie Robinson on the ensuing kickoff; they tied the score at 28-all on Robinson’s eight-yard touchdown reception with 4:12 remaining in the half. The Bison added a 36-yard scoring run by Josiah Crute and a five-yard touchdown run by Iggy Reynoso in the third quarter for a 41-38 advantage. Quarterback Akevious Williams’ 15-yard touchdown run with 5:45 left in the game got Bethune-Cookman within striking distance of the Bison. The Wildcats had an opportunity to take the lead on their final possession. Tye Freeland came up with an interception at Howard’s 38-yard line with 23 seconds showing on the clock to seal the win. Both teams moved the almost at will. Howard amassed 526 total yards; Bethune-Cookman had 416.
Southern 29, Alabama A&M 27 – The Jaguars stormed back from a 15-point first-quarter deficit and then thwarted a two-point conversion attempt in the final minutes for a SWAC victory in the Gulf Coast Classic in Mobile, Ala. Jordan Bentley scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to propel Alabama A&M (1-3, 0-1 SWAC) to 21-6 lead. John Lampley, the first-year starting quarterback for Southern (2-2), threw a pair of first half interceptions and fumbled twice as well. But with the Bulldogs shutting down the Jaguars’ running game, the Jaguars had little choice but to rely on Lampley’s passing.
He finally found his stride and finished the game with 204 yards passing and 99 yards on the ground. Lampley connected with running back Devon Benn for a 10-yard touchdown pass just before the first half ended to cut the Jaguars’ deficit to 21-15. Benn and Jamarqueza Mims added second half touchdowns as the Jaguars built a 29-21 lead. Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass scored on a two-yard run with 1:13 remaining in the game but the Jaguars stuffed Glass when he tried to run for two points on the conversion attempt.
Tennessee State 41, Eastern Illinois 40 – The Big Blue rallied from a 21-point second-quarter deficit for a road OVC win and ended a six-game losing streak to the Panthers in the process. Earl Harrison’s four-yard touchdown run with 3:06 provided Tennessee State (2-0, 1-0 OVC) with margin of victory. Justin Culpepper blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt to preserve the victory. Tennessee State was playing its first game since Sept. 1. Its contest against Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic was canceled due to lightning, and its Sept. 15 game at Hampton was canceled because of the threat of Hurricane Florence. The Big Blue offense showed no ill-effects from the layoff, rolling up 544 total yards.
Duke 55, North Carolina Central 13
Florida A&M 31, Savannah State 13
Norfolk State 17, South Carolina State 7
Alcorn State 54, Mississippi Valley State 14
Houston 70, Texas Southern 14
Prairie View A&M 55, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 10
Bowie State 42, Saint Augustine’s 22
Campbell 42, Shaw 0
Chowan 55, McKendree 45
Kennesaw State 70, Clark Atlanta 13
Livingstone 30, Lincoln (Pa.) 0
Virginia State 43, Johnson C. Smith 14
Virginia Union 27, Winston-Salem State 19
Albany State 14, Lane 7
Benedict 28, Fort Valley State 20,
Missouri S&T 16, Tuskegee 7
Morehouse 23, Miles 21
Allen 29, Middle Georgia 6
Edward Waters 24, Cumberland 17
Langston 35, SAGU 20h
Lincoln (Mo.) 28, Southwest Baptist 13
Northern Iowa 55, Hampton 0
Shepherd 27, West Virginia State 7
Virginia-Lynchburg 16, Brevard 14
- Prairie View A&M quarterback Jalen Morton had 511 total yards – including school record 255 rushing yards –and accounted for 6 TDs as the Panthers accumulated a school record 815 total yards against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
- Chowan quarterback Bryce Witt threw for a school record 439 yards and 3 TDs against McKendree.
- Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall passed for 354 yards and 3 TDs against Saint Augustine’s.
- Tuskegee quarterback Ahmad DeRamus threw for 294 yard a 1 TD against Missouri S&T.
- Alcorn State running back P. J. Simmons ran for 210 yards and 1 TD against Mississippi Valley State
- Bowie State red shirt freshman defensive tackle Joshua Pryor had three sacks and forced a fumble against Saint Augustine’s
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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.