N.C. A&T Aggies Lose Close Road Game at Hampton:Grimsley High School graduate QB Chris Zellous leads Pirates to Victory

Aggies Lose Close Road Game at Hampton
A&T got the passing game going, throwing for a season-high 215 yards and two touchdowns.
from www.ncataggies.com

HAMPTON, Va. – North Carolina A&T made explosive plays in the passing game for really the first time all season, which was super to witness. A&T’s defense assisted by scoring on a pick-6 for its first score of 2023. Unfortunately, the Aggies could not turn any of those first into their first Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) Football Conference win, coming up short against longtime HBCU rival Hampton, 26-24, Saturday afternoon at Armstrong Stadium.

The Aggies dropped to 1-7 on the season and 0-5 in conference play. Hampton snapped its three-game losing streak to improve to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in league play.

But despite the loss, the Aggies threw for a season-high 215 yards and two touchdowns, led by freshman quarterback Kevin White. White completed 10 of his 15 passes as the Aggies threw for more than 100 yards for the first time this season. A&T also had its first touchdown pass of the season as White connected with graduate receiver Taymon Cooke for a 46-yard catch and run TD pass 90 seconds into the game to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead.

Hampton scored the next 19 points, including a 22-yard touchdown pass from Grimsley High School graduate Chris Zellous to Kymari Gray with five seconds remaining in the first half to give the Pirates a 12-7 halftime lead. But trailing 19-7 in the third quarter, the Aggies made another explosive play on another catch and run.

White found sophomore running back Kenji Christian open, and Christian turned the pass into a long run down the sideline to cut the Pirates lead to 19-14 with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter.

“There were a lot of really positive things that happened today that had not been on display in the other games,” said A&T head coach Vincent Brown. “Offense created some explosive plays today and gave us a chance to win it. But unfortunately, we had too many errors there that didn’t allow us to win the game.”

Hampton gave the Aggies little time to enjoy Christian’s long TD reception because, on the ensuing kickoff, Romon Copeland ran through the Aggies kick coverage untouched for a 96-yard TD return to put Hampton in front 26-14.

A&T did answer with an 11-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard Owen Daffer field goal to cut the Pirates lead to nine at the outset of the fourth quarter. A&T’s defense then went to work as sophomore safety David Laney intercepted his first pass of the season, returning it 18 yards for an Aggies touchdown.

It marked the Aggies first pick-6 since Jacob Roberts had a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown on Oct. 29, 2022, against Campbell. The defensive score pulled the Aggies to within two at 26-24 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

A&T’s defense continued to contribute, forcing the Pirates to punt as the Aggies regained possession of the ball at their 23-yard line with 6:24 remaining to play. The Aggies advanced the ball to the Hampton 42, aided by a 21-yard completion from White to Ger-Cari Caldwell.

Things looked even more promising when, on 2nd-and-10, Christian broke through the Pirates defense. But as he spun to the ground on the tackle at the 35, the ball came loose, and Hampton’s Stanley Garner recovered the fumble, giving the Pirates 1st-and-10 with 3:35 remaining. Hampton eventually ran out the clock to earn its second straight win over A&T.

“Until we learn how to finish, this is the result,” said Brown. “But I told them I love them. I am proud of the effort that they gave because they showed tremendous heart, and it’s something for us to build on.”