|Can't afford to sleep on MEAC after NC A&T, SC State statement wins|
|Wins against national powers show league's strength|
|Published Saturday, September 7, 2019 1:30 am|
|N.C. A&T SPORTS INFORMATION|
|N.C. A&T football coach Sam Washington guided the Aggies to a win against FCS No. 21 Elon in the season opener last week. A&T plays at Duke Saturday.|
The MEAC has served notice its teams will be players in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Wins by North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State against nationally ranked opponents were the highlight two games into the season. No. 19 A&T’s dramatic 24-21 win against No. 21 Elon was secured on Noel Ruiz’s 52-yard field goal on the final play.
“It was a character win for us,” said Aggies (1-0) coach Sam Washington, noting a pair of missed A&T field goals, two ties and three lead changes. “Our kids fought from start to finish and went in with the motto ‘Start fast, finish strong,’ and I think they got that accomplished. From that perspective, I was very pleased.”
The bigger surprise was unranked S.C. State (1-0) tripping No. 8 Wofford 28-13 last week in Orangeburg. The Bulldogs, who have been a second-tier MEAC program in recent years, beat the Terriers for the first time since 1976 with Tyrece Nick passing for a score and running for another while the defense picked off four passes.
“Our defense did play very well,” S.C. State coach Buddy Pough said. “It’s a lot of new names, which is also exciting for fans of South Carolina State because not only are they playing pretty good, they’re going to play pretty good for a long time because you’ve got some freshmen and sophomores out there.”
Wofford, which leads the all-time series 6-3, won the Southern Conference title last year and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs. Those accomplishments made S.C. State’s victory all the sweeter.
“It’s been a while since we’ve won against that kind of caliber football team,” Pough said. “You can pretty much bet that everybody here is extremely proud of what we accomplished…it’s just that we’ve got to keep it going. We haven’t done enough. We’ve just had a start and we’ve got to keep going.”
S.C. State plays Division II Lane Saturday at 4 p.m. in Orangeburg.
A&T steps up in competition Saturday when they travel to Duke, which is coming off a loss to FBS No. 2 Alabama. The Aggies are accustomed to holding their own against Division I’s top tier, though, with wins against Kent State, Charlotte and East Carolina in the last three years.
“In their own right [the Blue Devils are] big, they’re fast, they’re well-coached and they’re disciplined,” Washington said. “It’s going to be a tough game for us. They get the nod for the size. I think we can match them speed-wise, but size and strength is going to be a major factor.”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe showered praise on the Aggies, who've won three black college national titles in the last four years.
“They are a great program, not just a great team,” he said. “They are champions. They do what champions do. There are three ingredients to what championship football teams do and they have a conference championship trophy. They were MEAC champions for a reason. First of all, they have talent. Second, they are extremely well-coached. The third thing is that they play and compete at an extremely high level in all three phases.”
|Great for HBCU's I'm a supporter of the programs and proud of the staff and players! Most top players don't consider these institutions when they are being recruited which I feel is very unfortunate, we just need a few top players to commit to these great institutions to help get them national recognition and revenue to the university.|
|Posted on September 7, 2019|
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