A&T Opens Door to a MEAC Championship Showdown with NCCU
(from Matt Johnson, College Football writer for GreensboroSports.com)
Ninth ranked North Carolina A&T (9-1, 7-0 MEAC) showed up in Dover, Delaware ready to stake their claim in what has essentially become the MEAC championship game November 19. The Aggies did not play their best football, per Head Coach Rod Broadway, but don’t tell that to the scoreboard.
The Aggies rolled 45-14 over the winless Delaware State Hornets, but did manage to turn over the football. With a blocked punt and a fumble deep in the Hornet red zone, the Aggies still managed to win by a 31-point margin. However, Coach Broadway knows that after their rough start and allowing a winless team to get ahead early, the Aggies cannot play the same way in the upcoming week if they want to be MEAC champs.
Despite some of their setbacks, the Aggies rolled in part due to Tarik Cohen’s fourth 200-yard game of the season, and eighth such game of his career. Cohen ripped off 221 yards on 13 carries, adding two touchdowns of 59 and 84 yards. His two touchdowns on Saturday gave him 18 touchdowns for the season, matching Stoney Polite’s A&T record for touchdowns in a single season.
Backup running back for the Aggies Marquell Cartwright(High Point Andrews High School) also ran for two touchdowns during the contest. The Aggies offense as a unit providing an astounding 351 yards with an average per carry of 11.3 yards, averaging a first down with every carry to put it into perspective.
Fifth year senior Oluwafemi Bamiro also completed 12-24 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore linebacker Kiaundric Richardson added 2 interceptions as the Aggie defense settled in after the slow start.
Saturday in Durham, the 25th ranked North Carolina Central Eagles (8-2, 7-0) and their eight-game winning streak will host the 9th ranked Aggies to determine the outright champion of the MEAC.
The Aggies have shared the last two MEAC championships with the Eagles, a mark that will change this Saturday. A&T and NCCU are ranked one and two respectively in both scoring offense and defense, and are both two of the best teams in the FCS at this point in the 2016 season.
Tarik Cohen is second in the nation and first in the MEAC in both rushing yards (1436) and rushing touchdowns (17), look for him to once again be the glue of the Aggie offense. Cohen is without question a candidate for the Walter Payton Award (FCS Player of the Year).
The coaching point all season for Rod Broadway has been the pass defense for A&T. NCCU comes into the game with one of the better air attacks in the MEAC, with second ranked quarterback in pass-efficiency Malcolm Bell who sits only behind A&T’s sophomore quarterback Lamar Raynard. Bell also leads the MEAC with 2007 passing yards, and has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The defense has a chance to make plays, as Bell has thrown double digit interceptions this year, but the Aggies defensive backfield can’t gamble too much because Bell has shown that he can lead this Eagles team and make opponents pay with his arm.
North Carolina A&T and the 25 North Carolina Central University Eagles will face off in Durham, North Carolina as the Aggies will be in hostile territory to close out the regular season. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Matt Johnson is a broadcaster for Averett University Football and the Averett Sports Network. To view one of his broadcasts, go to www.averettcougars.com on Saturdays during Averett University home games for live coverage of Averett football or search for Averett athletics on YouTube for a previous broadcast.