Defense was the name of the game, and a blocked extra point by Grambling State’s Joseph McWilliams was the dagger in the hearts of Eagle fans everywhere as Grambling claims the 2016 Historically Black College-University Football National Championship in the Celebration Bowl 10-9.
North Carolina Central (9-3) started the game hot on defense to set the tempo. Alden McClellon intercepted Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade inside of the redzone.
The Eagles would turn that interception in to a 23 yard field goal by NCCU kicker Brandon McLaren to make the score 3-0 in the first quarter.
The next drive, GSU would miss a field goal and the team from Durham would march down the field before Deaumante Johnson would jump in front of the Malcolm Bell pass for Grambling’s first takeaway of the game.
Grambling (12-1) would go on a span of four penalties that equaled 24 yards until the flags became more prominent as the game began to get chippy towards the end of the first half. McLaren would pull a 34 yard field goal wide left towards the end of the half and nothing would change as the two teams went in to the half with NC Central leading 3-0.
Grambling is known for their explosive second halves, and they produced on their first drive back out of the tunnel. After several runs by Jestin Kelly and Kincade, Martez Carter showed why he is one of the most explosive players in the FCS with a 32 yard rushing touchdown.
This third quarter touchdown was the first touchdown allowed all season by the Eagles.
Malcolm Bell would be sacked by Grambling’s Arkez Cooper, forcing a fumble and the G-men would recover the ball. The Eagle defense would hold however, forcing a field goal to make the game 10-3.
The defenses of each team took turns winning their respective battles for the next several drives before Bell would look to hit his receiver breaking towards the sideline before Jameel Jackson picked that pass off to kill the momentum of the offense.
NCCU would eventually get the ball back and would drive down to the Tiger 32 yard line. Bell scrambled to the left side and found Quentin Atkinson wide open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. In excitement, the young man took his helmet off to celebrate and was penalized for the unsportsmanlike conduct.
With the score being 10-9 and the extra point field goal coming up, the field goal attempt was moved back with the penalty. Grabmling’s Joseph McWilliams would block the field goal to tie the game and that would be the final score.
NC Central’s Malcolm Bell finished the game 18-of-32 240 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Grambling State’s Martez Carter had 12 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown.
(Photo by NCCU Athletics)