By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN — There are four unbeaten teams left in HBCU football as week seven begins. Two of them will meet each other in a key CIAA Northern Division matchup at Rogers Stadium in Petersburg, Va.
In one corner sits the 6-0 Bulldogs of Bowie State, in the other corner sits the 5-0 Trojans of Virginia State. They’re both 3-0 in the CIAA overall and 1-0 in the North. On the surface, this has the makings of an explosive offensive showcase.
The Bulldogs are averaging 54.3 points per game this season, the best in all of Division II football. The Trojans can score as well. Their 40.6 average is just behind BSU in the conference.
Bowie State moved up five spots in the latest American Football Coaches Association Coach’s Division II Poll to No. 14 following their 41-10 win in their Northern Division opener last week against the Chowan Hawks.
Virginia State had a dominating win themselves in their Northern Division opener against Elizabeth City State, claiming a 56-0 victory. Both schools have a win against defending CIAA champion Winston-Salem State this season.
This game features the top two players in the conference, as well as in the nation, in Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall, the CIAA’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, and Virginia State senior running back Trent Cannon.
Hall’s 1,983 passing yards (330.5 yards per game) and 24 touchdown passes currently leads the CIAA and all of HBCU football. The 6-foot-4 junior is also among the leaders in all of Division II football.
Regarded by many as one of the top NFL prospects in the CIAA this year, the 5-foot-11 Cannon is the CIAA leader in rushing (125.8 ypg., 6 TDs) and kickoff returns (40.0 ypr., 1 TD).
This will be the best defense Cannon will face this year as BSU’s squad is ranked fourth in the nation. The Bulldogs defense is led by senior defensive end Derrick Tate and fellow senior defensive back Rahman Kamara.
As for Virginia State, they have the number seven ranked defense in the nation. The Trojans will be led by senior linebacker Brandon Lynch who was a pre-season All-CIAA selection and junior linebacker Malik Sexton.
Saturday’s game will be VSU’s Homecoming contest. Last year at Bowie State’s Homecoming, the Bulldogs came from 11 points down (37-26) in the third quarter to pull out a 38-37 win over VSU en route to winning their second straight Northern Division title.
The game, scheduled for a 2 p.m. ET kickoff, will be televised live on Aspire TV.
To locate the Aspire TV channel in your area, visit http://aspire.tv/find-channel/ with your zip code.
|Soul of the South Network|
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The other two undefeated teams in HBCU football will be in action this weekend as well. The Aggies of North Carolina A&T (6-0, 3-0 MEAC) will travel to Tallahassee Saturday to meet Florida A&M (2-4, 1-2) in the Rattlers’ Homecoming game.
A&T is currently ranked No. 11 in the latest NCAA FCS Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the recent STATS FCS Media Poll.
Also, Langston University (5-0, 3-0 CSFL) will host Texas College in the Black Wall Street Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT. The Lions are currently ranked eighth in the latest NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
What two-time All-MEAC football standout would later be tabbed as a two-time MLB All-Star and win baseball’s Rookie of The Year award?
(Answer comes at the end of the story)
OTHER KEY GAMES
After a tough home loss to defending MEAC champion N.C. Central, Howard (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) looks to get back to .500 on the season. They’ll travel to Dover to meet the winless Hornets of Delaware State (0-5, 0-3) in DSU’s Homecoming at 2 p.m. ET.
The Hornets are looking to break a 16-game losing streak at Homecoming. The streak dates back to last season when the Hornets finished winless (0-11, 0-8 MEAC). DSU’s last victory came against HU in the 2015 regular season finale in Dover, 32-31.
An HU victory would also surpass last year’s win total while putting the Bison at 3-3 for the first time since 2012 where they finished 7-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play. This will be the 74th meeting between DSU and HU with the Hornets leading the all-time series, 39-33-1.
In the last five years, each contest has been decided by seven points or less.
Also, South Carolina State (2-3, 1-2) travels to Daytona Beach to meet Bethune-Cookman (2-3, 1-1) at 4 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs and Wildcats have played an even series over the past six years as Bethune-Cookman holds a 4-3 edge. South Carolina State leads the series 12-9 in Daytona Beach and the overall series at 32-23-1.
In a key Eastern Division battle, Albany State (4-2, 2-0) hosts Morehouse College (3-3, 2-2) in the Golden Rams’ Homecoming (2 p.m. ET) at ASU Coliseum. The Maroon Tigers suffered a heartbreaking 23-17 overtime loss to Tuskegee in last week’s Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic. Following a Kivon Taylor interception in the extra session, TU ran in the game-winner on their first possession in OT
ASU’s defense had three takeaways and shutout the Lincoln (Mo.) offense in the second half en route to a 30-10 win over the Blue Tigers. Offensively, junior running back McKinley Habersham collected his fourth 100-yard game of the season with 111 yards on 13 carries and a 38-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
Also, Clark Atlanta (3-3, 2-2) travels to Columbia, S.C. to meet Benedict College (3-2, 2-1) in the Tigers’ Homecoming at 2 p.m. ET. Benedict has recorded 21 sacks in their first five games, which ranks second in Division II and first in the SIAC.
They also lead the nation in tackles for loss, notching 61 tackles for loss for 271 yards. Benedict has won five of its last six Homecoming contests, with wins over Clark Atlanta in 2011 and 2013.
However, CAU quarterback Johnathon McCrary torched BC for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last year’s meeting in Atlanta. The Panthers have done a good job of protecting McCrary, who has been sacked only five times in six games, on 225 pass attempts.
Riding a three-game winning streak, Alcorn State (4-2, 2-0) will host Prairie View (2-3, 2-1) in the Braves’ Homecoming (2 p.m. CT) at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. ASU just completed a stretch of three games in 13 days including back-to-back road wins over Texas Southern (24-17) and Alabama State (24-10).
This matchup features the only two players in the conference to have scored three touchdowns in a single game. The Panthers’ Dawonya Tucker accomplished this against Sam Houston State on September 7 while the Braves’ De’Lance Turner completed the feat versus Southern on September 23.
Also, Tuskegee (4-2, 3-1 SIAC) travels to Mobile, Ala. to face winless Jackson State (0-5, 0-2 SWAC) in the 5th Quarter Classic. The Golden Tigers are seeking their third straight win after beating Lane College (28-23) and Morehouse College (23-17). They already have a win against a SWAC opponent this season as they defeated Alabama State in their season opener.
Saturday marks the first time JSU has played in the 5th Quarter Classic and the second
straight time Tuskegee has played in the game. The last meeting between the two schools was in the 1993 season opener when the Tigers won 24-12. JSU leads the overall series 3-0. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.
The three-way logjam in the Southern Division between Winston-Salem State, St. Aug’s, and Fayetteville State should have some clarity after the Rams (4-2, 1-0) travel to Raleigh (1 p.m. ET) to meet the Falcons (2-4, 1-0) at George Williams Athletic Complex.
WSSU had to hold off a late J.C. Smith rally last week before they outlasted the winless Golden Bulls 27-22 at Bowman Gray Stadium. The Rams got 137 rushing yards on 23 carries from senior Kerrion Moore.
As for St. Aug’s, Sean Smith’s 23-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining gave the Falcons a 30-29 come from behind victory over Livingstone College. In his first start, sophomore quarterback Demetrius Lewis accounted for 157 rushing yards, 158 passing yards, and three touchdowns.
Fayetteville State (2-4, 1-0) will travel to Charlotte to meet the Golden Bulls (0-6, 0-1) at 1 p.m. ET. The Broncos also won on a last-second field goal as David Lamb’s 30-yarder with four seconds remaining gave FSU a 24-21 win over Shaw.
Lamb’s heroics capped a drive that started on the Broncos 19-yard line and was aided by two Shaw pass interference penalties. FSU freshman quarterback Richard Lattimer also had a good outing, throwing for 222 yards on a 19-of-28 effort with two touchdowns.
The last time JCSU started 0-6 came in the 2005 season when the Golden Bulls went 0-10. The current six-game slide is the longest losing streak since JCSU dropped six straight in the 2014 season.
CLASSIC SPOTLIGHT: BATTLE OF THE BAY
Two of the four remaining MEAC unbeaten teams meet this Saturday as Hampton visits Norfolk State in the Battle of the Bay at Dick Price Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.
The game has also been designated Virginia Lottery Education Appreciation Day. Both schools are 2-0 in MEAC play so with just over a month left in the season, call this a pseudo-elimination game for the loser.
The Pirates (3-2) improved to 2-0 in MEAC play last week with a narrow 17-10 victory at Savannah State University. Quarterback Delmon Williams threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Aulden Knight midway through the fourth quarter for what proved to be the winning score.
As for the Spartans (2-3), they picked up their second straight win last week with a 35-28 home victory over Florida A&M. Larry Bishop III scored on a 2-yard TD run with 56 seconds left to account for the go-ahead score. NSU then forced a turnover on downs from FAMU.
NSU is on a three-game win streak in the series following last year’s 17-10 win at Hampton. The Spartans’ last three-game win streak in the series was from 1978-80. With last year’s win, NSU head coach Latrell Scott became the first Spartan coach to begin his NSU tenure with two straight wins over Hampton since Bob Ledbetter in 1972-73.
The Spartans lead the overall series at 26-25-1. The game can be seen live on ESPN3/Watch ESPN and also will be shown on a tape-delayed basis Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
NEWS AND NOTES
HILL-ELEY NAMED INTERIM HEAD COACH AT ALABAMA STATE
Alabama State University President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., has announced that Donald Hill-Eley will move into the role of Interim Head Football Coach after Brian Jenkins was relieved of his duties on October 6th.
“I am extremely impressed with the wealth of experience Coach Eley has brought to our athletics program as Associate Head Coach,” Dr. Ross said. “His knowledge of Hornets football will be of great benefit as we continue to support our student-athletes and the University’s football program.”
Eley joined the program in 2015 after a one-year stint as the wide receivers coach at Norfolk State and has served in the role of Associate Head Coach during that time. The longtime MEAC coach spent 13 seasons at Morgan State (2001-13). After his first season as offensive coordinator, Eley spent the final 12 as head coach and was named 2002 MEAC Coach of the Year. His 59 wins rank third all-time in Bears’ history.
“We would like to thank Brian Jenkins for his time at Alabama State,” Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jennifer Lynne Williams said. “It was a tough three years in terms of wins and losses for the coach, but I am comfortable that he will have success in his future endeavors and will end up on a sideline soon.”
He spent four seasons at Hampton (1997-2000) as offensive coordinator and pro liaison, helping the Pirates win an HBCU National Championship, two MEAC titles, and the 1999 Heritage Bowl.
Eley spent four seasons in professional football in the Canadian Football League, first with the Baltimore Stallions (1994-95) as receivers coach before two seasons with the Toronto Argonauts as a guest coach (1996-97). Hill was on the staff of three straight Grey Cup championship teams (1995-97) during his time in the CFL.
“I would like to thank Dr. Ross and Alabama State University for entrusting me with the football program during these tough times,” Eley said. “I look forward to the opportunity of leading these young men at this point n their lives.”
Florida A&M punter Vince Coleman was a two-time All-MEAC performer for the Rattlers in 1980 and 1981. He would be drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals (10th round) in the 1982 MLB Amateur Draft. In 1985, he was named the National League’s Rookie of The Year after stealing 110 bases that season.