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HBCU Football

Florida A&M conquers N.C. A&T and is now the MEAC team to beat

And Morehouse is no longer unbeaten after losing big at home

Things have taken an unexpected turn atop the standings in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), as Florida A&M (FAMU) is proving it might be the team to beat this season.

It’s way too early to say FAMU is headed to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta in December, but at 4-0 and with three more conference games left, the Rattlers seem to have the inside track.

The Rattlers, who this time last week didn’t know whether they might make the road trip to No. 10 North Carolina A&T because of Hurricane Michael, blew into Greensboro on Saturday and beat the Aggies 22-21.

FAMU (5-2 overall, 4-0 MEAC) overcame a 21-6 halftime deficit with a 26-yard field goal left by Yahia Aly with four seconds left to lift them to their fourth consecutive victory, their longest winning streak since 2011.

Quarterback Ryan Stanley, who threw for 313 yards, led FAMU on a 13-play, 70-yard drive to set up Aly’s game-winning kick.

“This was definitely a trying week for us as a football team,” said first-year FAMU head coach Willie Simmons. “I tip my hat to the team. We overcame some early adversity. These guys never quit. We tell them, keep playing football, good things will happen for us. They showed how resilient they are. They showed they can overcome any adversity that comes their way. I’m just happy to see the result of a hard-fought football game against a really good North Carolina A&T football team.”

Aly had missed an extra point and a field goal earlier.

“As a kicker, you go through these type of situations. Going up to the last field goal, I wasn’t nervous. I wanted to redeem myself, and it was the best time to do it,” Aly said. “Right away, I thanked God. After the kick, I started shaking. I never felt that kind of emotion before. It was the best feeling ever.”

N.C. A&T (5-2, 2-1) took the lead on the opening kickoff when Malik Wilson took it 100 yards to score. The Aggies added to their lead when quarterback Lamar Raynard hit Zachary Leslie for a 38-yard score, making it 14-0.

The Rattlers’ first score came on a 55-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Derrick Mayweather. And after a blocked punt, the Aggies scored again, with Raynard reconnecting with Leslie.

FAMU put together a 14-play, 82-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter, with Azende Rey scoring on a short run. But Aly missed the extra point to make the score 21-13. The Rattlers scored again with about five minutes left in the game on a Chad Hunter touchdown, but the two-point conversation failed.

That’s when Stanley led FAMU’s final drive that led to Aly’s game-winning kick.

Hall has subpar game but Bowie State wins

Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall didn’t put up Madden-like stats this week, but the Bulldogs did win their homecoming game against Virginia State, 20-15. The victory keeps Bowie State (5-2 overall, 3-0 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) in the hunt for the conference title.

Hall, the reigning historically black college and university (HBCU) Player of the Year, was held to a season-low 171 passing yards, and the offense squandered two first-half red zone opportunities that could have put the game away early.

Going into Saturday’s game, Hall was the passing leader in NCAA Division II with more than 2,300 yards, and Bowie State was No. 3 in the country in passing offense.

“Their coaches were really over there testing my patience, seeing if I would take some deep shots early,” said Hall. “Second half, everything just opened up and they started to creep up a little bit.”

In the second half, the game opened up for Bowie, as Hall had 111 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Montez Clay, who understood the magnitude of the CIAA Northern matchup.

“It’s just one step closer,” said Clay. “It’s a big win, and we gotta win out in order to get to the CIAA championship.”

VSU eventually responded after quarterback Cordelral Cook drove his team down the field, scoring VSU’s first touchdown of the game to cut the deficit to 20-9 in the second half.

After a couple of stalled drives from each team, VSU (3-3 overall, 3-1 CIAA) got the ball back and scored on a 1-yard rush by Daniel Reid. After VSU failed on the two-point conversion and an onside kick attempt, the game stood at 20-15.

Defensively, Bowie State played one of its best games of the season, holding VSU to 15 points, which was a relief for a defense that’s given up at least 40 points in three games this season. Coach Damon Wilson said the performance is something that can set the team up for its ultimate goal.

“It’s big because it gives us an opportunity to still stay in the hunt for a conference championship, and that was one of our goals at the beginning of the year,” said Wilson.

Morehouse no longer unbeaten, loses 41-19

The last undefeated HBCU football squad is unbeaten no more after Albany State beat host Morehouse 41-19 on Sunday.

Albany State (4-3, 3-0 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), did what no other team had done: contain running back Santo Dunn. He came into the game averaging more than 107 yards per game but was held to just 24 yards on eight carries.

Albany State held a 17-7 halftime lead after quarterback Kelias Williams scored on a 20-yard run and found Mike Green on a 38-yard touchdown after a field goal opened the scoring. Morehouse’s Amyr Smith scored on a 23-yard touchdown from quarterback Michael Sims for the Maroon Tigers’ only first-half points.

Williams went 16-for-18 for 254 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back McKinley Habersham finished with two touchdowns, as the Golden Rams’ top rusher and receiver.

Albany State scored three more touchdowns in the second half to salt the game away, although Morehouse (6-1, 2-1) scored its final touchdown on a Sims-to-Tremell Gooden 22-yard pass.

Newton throws for five touchdowns

Howard quarterback Caylin Newton continues to play lights out, as his Bison demolished Delaware State on Saturday. They scored 23 first-quarter points and led by 35 at halftime en route to a 55-13 victory over Delaware State.

Already leading 7-0, the Bison broke open the contest on a 78-yard touchdown reception by Jequez Ezzard from Newton. It was the first of three touchdown catches for Ezzard, who had 191 yards on four receptions. Newton completed 10 of 24 passes for 313 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.

Isaiah George is a senior multimedia journalism major from Temple Hills, Maryland. He's a reporter for BearTV at Morgan and is a fan of all the major Washington, D.C., sports teams.

John X. Miller is senior editor for news and commentary for The Undefeated. He's a father, jazz aficionado and diehard UNC basketball fan.