Howard kept its MEAC championship hopes alive – and scrambled the title chase – with a 31-23 home victory over first-place Florida A&M Saturday.
Howard (4-4, 4-2 MEAC), Bethune-Cookman (5-5, 3-2 MEAC), North Carolina Central, and defending champion North Carolina A&T State (7-2, 4-1), all remain in the running to derail the front-running Rattlers (6-3, 5-1 MEAC), who would have clinched the crown and a berth in the Celebration Bowl with a win again against the Bison.
The Bison will need help, and lots of it to gain a share of the crown. They will have to win at Norfolk State Saturday, have Florida A&M lose to Bethune-Cookman in its season finale on Nov. 17 in the Florida Classic and have North Carolina A&T State lose to Savannah State or North Carolina Central to create a three-way tie.
A Howard victory, a Florida A&M loss and two losses for North Carolina A&T would leave the Bison and Florida A&M tied for the crown, but Howard would earn the Celebration Bowl berth on the strength of its victory against the Rattlers.
Florida A&M appeared to be on the way to wrapping up the title on its first possession. The Rattlers took the opening kickoff and scored on Azende Rey’s three-yard run at 13:40 in the first quarter. However, Howard hit the Rattlers with a 21-point flurry and led 21-17 at the half.
Quarterback Caylin Newton, Cam’s little brother, threw touchdown passes to Jequez Ezzard and Kyle Anthony and running back Dedrick Parson scored on an 11-yard run for the Bison’s points. Newton added another touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak in the third quarter for a 28-17 Howard lead.
Quarterback Ryan Stanley kept Florida A&M’s hopes for victory alive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Smith with 12:44 remaining in the game that made the score 28-23 after the two-point conversion attempt failed.
After Howard extended its lead to 31-23 on Faraji Joseph’s 24-yard field, the Rattlers had two more possessions but were unable to get into the end zone.
Stanley threw for 281 yards for the Rattlers and the two touchdowns, but he also threw a pair of drive-killing interceptions.
The Bison controlled the game on the strength of Parson’s running once they got the lead. Parson pounded the Rattlers for 140 yards on 26 carries. Newton kept the Rattlers off balance with his running and passing as he amassed 222 yards total offense.
Miles 31, Tuskegee 27 – Daniel Smith’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Tyree with 1:45 left in the game lifted the Golden Bears a home victory that gave them the SIAC West Division title and salvaged what had been a disappointing season.
Miles (4-6, 4-2 SIAC) will host East Division champion Albany State in the conference championship game Saturday. Albany State defeated Miles 30-24 in Week 5. Miles erased a 17-point third-quarter deficit en route to knocking off Tuskegee (5-5, 3-3 SIAC).
It was the second straight week the Golden Tigers squandered a double-digit second half lead in a loss. They led Central State 28-14 last week before losing 40-36. Tuskegee dominated the first half, holding Miles to just 61 yards total offense, and the Golden Tigers led 17-7 going into the third quarter. The Golden Bears flipped the script in the final two periods.
They held Tuskegee to 61 total yards in the second half as they rallied for the win. Kenny Gant led Tuskegee’s attack with 162 rushing yards. The Golden Tigers ran for 195 yards and had 355 yards, but they were doomed by their second-half offensive ineffectiveness.
Miles quarterback Daniel Smith threw for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Golden Bears specialized in playing close games this season. Seven of their 10 contests were decided by six points or fewer; four of their six losses were by a total of 11 points.
North Carolina A&T State 37, Norfolk State 20 – The defending MEAC and Black College National champion Aggies celebrated what their alumni call The Greatest Homecoming On Earth with a resounding victory to remain in the hunt for the conference title or an FCS playoff berth. The Aggies (7-2, 4-1 MEAC) will claim the MEAC title if they win their remaining two games and Florida A&M loses to Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 17.
The Aggies are No. 17 in the FCS rankings and would likely be in line for an at-large berth if they win out and Florida A&M defeats Bethune-Cookman. The Aggies’ one-two punch of running backs Marqull Cartwright and Jah-Maine Martin terrorized the Spartans. Cartwright, a fifth-year senior and the leading rusher in the MEAC, rambled for a career-high 183 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries; Martin chipped in with 130 yards and a touchdown.
The duo is the first pair of Aggies runners in 27 years to top the 100-yard mark in the same game. Aggies Hall of Famers Barry Turner and James White performed the feat on Oct. 12, 1991 against Florida A&M.
The Aggies rushed for 310 yards against Norfolk State (3-5, 1-4 MEAC), marking the second they have surpassed 300 yards in a game this season. Senior wide receiver Malik Wilson returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the third time this season when he scored on a 99-yard jaunt in the third quarter.
Bowie State 49, Elizabeth City State 7 – Senior quarterback Amir Hall broke the CIAA record for career touchdown passes as the Bulldogs crushed the Vikings and clinched the CIAA North Division title. The win puts Bowie State (8-2, 5-1) in the conference championship game for the third time in four years.
The Bulldogs will face South champ Fayetteville State for the title Saturday in Salem, Va. Hall threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 98 scoring passes for his career.
Former Winston-Salem State quarterback Kam Smith held the previous record. Hall is 91 yards shy of the CIAA career record for passing yards held by former North Carolina Central signal caller Earl “Air’’ Harvey with 10,621. Lansana Sesay had five catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs.
Elizabeth City (1-7, 0-6 CIAA) scored on Deshon Saunders’ one-yard run with six seconds left in the game to avoid the shutout.
Grambling State 24, Mississippi Valley State 19 – The G-Men came up with a pair of defensive plays in the fourth quarter and escaped with a Homecoming victory to set up a showdown with Southern in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 24 for the SWAC West Division championship.
Grambling (5-4, 4-2 SWAC), nursing a five-point lead, forced the Delta Devils (1-7, 1-4) to turn the ball over on downs when Danquarian Harris broke up a pass on a fourth-and-goal play from Grambling’s two yard line with 6:18 left in the game.
Grambling punted the ball back to the Delta Devils but got it back when De’Andre Hogues forced a fumble and recovered it at midfield with 4:07 remaining. The G-Men held the ball for all but four seconds of the remaining time.
Bethune-Cookman 30, Morgan State 28
Delaware State 25, Savannah State 6
Alabama A&M 45, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 14
Alabama State 30, Texas Southern 21
Jackson State 34, Prairie View A&M 28
New Mexico State 52, Alcorn State 42
Chowan 56, Lincoln (Pa.) 27
Livingstone 20, Johnson C. Smith 9
Shaw 27, Saint Augustine’s 10
Virginia Union 46, Virginia State 19
Winston-Salem State 41, Fayette State 8
Albany State 40, Fort Valley State 6
Benedict 18, Kentucky State 0
Central State 45, Lane 22
Clark Atlanta 30, Morehouse 13
Hampton 51, SUNY Maritime 10
Panhandle State 59, Texas College 3
Southeast Missouri State 38, Tennessee State 10
Tarleton State 59, Lincoln (Mo.) 3
West Virginia State 31, Urbana (Ohio) 28
- Alcorn State QB Noah Johnson had 554 yards total offense, 316 passing and 138 rushing, and accounted for four TDs.
- Lincoln (Pa.) QV Vincent Espinoza completed 32 of 57 passes for 375 yards and three TDs.
- Lane Qb Marcus Reynolds completed 23 of 44 passes for 311 yards and three TDs.
- Alabama State QB KHA’Darris Davis had 275 yards total offense, 171 passing and 104 rushing, and accounted for three TDs.
- Chowan QB Bryce Witt completed 15 of 22 passes for 271 yards and five TDs.
- Morgan State QB DJ Gollatt Jr. completed 19 of 39 passes for 257 yards and three TDs
- Chowan RB Tyrell Freeman rushed for 227 yards and three TDs on 27 carries.
- Central State RB Terraris Saffold rushed for 214 yards and one TD on 27 carries.
- Bethune-Cookman RB Jimmie Robinson rushed for 208 yards and three TDs on 11 carries.
- Clark Atlanta RB Roger Thomas rushed for 199 yards on 31 carries.
- Edward Waters WR Tyler Gilbert returned seven kickoffs for 184 yards with a long return of 62 yards.
- Virginia Union RB Tabyus Taylor rushed for 180 yards and two TDs on 31 carries.
- Shaw WR Daniel Bender caught nine passes for 179 yards.
- Benedict RB Deveall McClendon rushed for 160 yards on 21 carries.
- Saint Augustine’s RB Jeremiah Miller rushed for 138 yards on 31 carries.
- Alcorn State RB DeShawn Waller rushed for 137 yards and two TDs on 26 carries.
- Chowan WR Torry Baker caught three passes for 135 yards and three TDs.
- North Carolina Central RB Isaiah Totten rushed for 133 yards and two TDs on 11 carries.
- Lincoln (Pa.) WR Reginald Mays caught nine passes for 129 yards and one TD.
- Morgan State WR Manassah Bailey caught five passes for 129 yards and one TD.
- Albany State RB Tracy Scott rushed for 121 yards and one TD on 12 carries.
- Prairie View A&M RB Trazon Connley rushed for 110 yards one TD on 12 carries.
- North Carolina Central RB Tyquand Watson rushed for 109 yards and two TDs on 16 carries.
- Alcorn State WR Dayall Harris caught five passes for 108 yards and one TD.
- Lincoln (Pa.) WR Carlos Croslin caught nine passes for 106 yards and one TD.
- Lane WR Omarr Hampton caught eight passes 101 yards.
- North Carolina Central RB Mashion Powell rushed for 101 yards and one TD on 12 carries.
- Winston-Salem State WR William Walton caught two passes for 102 yards and one TD.
- Benedict held Kentucky State 98 total yards, including two yards rushing.
- Delaware State held Savannah State to 167 total yards and first downs.
HEAD BACK TO THE BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM HOMEPAGE
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.