Norfolk State struggles to find footing as N.C. A&T basks in perfect record
The pressure is getting high to stay perfect, but North Carolina A&T State University head coach Rod Broadway isn’t letting it get to him.
The Aggies added another W to their still-untarnished record with a 35-7 win over the Norfolk State University Spartans on Saturday. The team’s ninth consecutive win this season also put Broadway in Aggie record books.
“It’s special, but that’s not quite good enough. We’ve got to go 10-0,” Broadway said. “But I’m proud of them.”
One concern Broadway mentioned several times was the unusual number of penalties the Aggies racked up during the course of the game. N.C. A&T committed nine penalties for 106 yards, compared with NSU’s four for 43 yards. That number is unusually large, Broadway says, but it’s something he looks forward to correcting going into next week’s game against Savannah State University.
“It wasn’t always pretty out there, but if these guys could see what kind of football team we could have if we stop the slow play, the dumb play, the penalties and stuff like that, we could have a good football team,” Broadway said. “We’re close to being pretty good now, but we’ve got to take some giant steps.”
The Aggies remained focused during the first drive of the game, which resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lamar Raynard. During the second quarter, a missed N.C. A&T field goal gave the Spartans an opportunity to even the score. But their hopes were soon drowned by Spartans quarterback Juwan Howard’s intercepted pass, which was returned 47 yards for a touchdown by Aggies linebacker Jeremy Taylor. The Aggies boasted a 14-0 lead with 10:56 left in the second quarter.
There would be light at the end of the tunnel for the Spartans, who answered in the second quarter with their first and only touchdown coming right before the half. From there, the Aggies dominated with two successful 1-yard TD runs in the third quarter, and the game’s fourth and final 1-yard touchdown run by running back Jamari Smith, leaving the Spartans to try to find their way around N.C. A&T’s 21 unanswered points.
“Obviously, A&T is as good as advertised. Very sound, physical football team on both sides of the ball,” NSU head coach Latrell Scott said after the game. “They did some things to us that limited us on offense, and they were able to have some success on defense. They scored 14 points off of turnovers, so when you do that to your defense and you put your defense in a bind like that, you’re going to struggle. Hats off to Coach Broadway. They’re undefeated for a reason.”
It was a game important to both N.C. A&T and Norfolk State for different reasons.
On a day when Spartans fans honored first-responders and celebrated Senior Day, the team still struggled to find its footing after last weekend’s 27-9 loss to Savannah State. Hours before last week’s game, the team learned that freshman linebacker Nick Ackies had been shot and killed after an incident with former NSU football player Jaquan Anderson.
Although the team is still having to deal with the untimely death of Ackies, Scott hopes to help the team find a better groove during its last two games against Howard on Nov. 11, and Morgan State the following weekend.
And as wonderful as 9-0 sounds to Broadway, there are still two more games to go for a perfect season, and the pressure is on.
“[The pressure] gets bigger every week,” Broadway said. “I go simple. All we need to do is win one ballgame, and that’ll give us 10. After 10, we’ll work on No. 11, but until then, we’re trying to stay in the now. We try not to get too far ahead and try to focus on the job at hand.”