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Eagles, Flags Fly in Sloppy 41-0 Win

Durham, NC – What started off as a slow start for North Carolina Central University concluded well, as the Eagles beat the Shaw Bears 41-0.

Taking their first victory of the season, the Eagles have shown that they are harsh contenders in the MEAC conference. With the help of kicker Aedan Johnson, a 25-yard field goal allowed the Eagles to have the first points on the board at 3-0.

Running back Ramone Simpson (26)

Quarterback Micah Zanders had a monster 25-yard throw to wide receiver Jacen Murphy, putting the ball onto the 1-yard line. With the help of running back Dorrel McClain, the Eagles were able to get the touchdown shortly after to make it 10-0 after the extra point by Johnson.

That wasn’t the end of the offense’s aggressive moment. After Shaw’s quarterback Derron Downing’s pass was picked off by defensive back Davanta Reynolds, NCCU would be right back on the attack. Redshirt freshman running back Isaiah Totten would get the first of his two 25-yard runs into the end zone with 5:23 remaining in the half to give his team the 17 point lead.Totten had an enormous game, finishing with 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Aedan Johnson would nail a 37-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half to give the defending MEAC champions a 20-0 lead going in to halftime.

As a freshman, Totten isn’t intimidated at all by his opponents. Reminded that he was the only one to score against the Duke Blue Devils last week, he feels extremely comfortable as a running back. “I can play at this level” Totten said.” I don’t have to feel scared when it comes to running. I feel like I can play here.”

Totten ran for 76 yards which helped lead the Eagles to a victory. Micah Zanders who threw for 16 had trouble getting accustomed to the Bears defense.  Zanders was in the game from first to third quarter, where he threw for 165-yards.

Both teams struggled in the third quarter, probably because of the abundance of penalties, and neither team would score. Penalties stole the show in tonight’s game. Both the Eagles and Bears got many flags on both sides of the ball. NCCU racked up 155 yards worth of penalties, while Shaw had an astounding amount at 268 penalty yards!

NC Central head coach, Jerry Mack was not pleased with the team’s efforts

when concerning penalty flags. When asked if he thought it was due to emotions, he agreed. “It was a little bit of everything. When guys are finishing their blocks, it may look like personal foul. Sometimes it was on us, sometimes it wasn’t, but we still need to clean up the silly mistakes.”

Despite the sloppy game, NCCU was able to find a bright streak in the fourth quarter.

Coach Mack and his staff made the decision to take out Zanders and replace him with the Durham-native, freshman Chauncey Caldwell. Caldwell, who also got to shine his light on the gridiron as he demolished the Bears defense.

Caldwell got 20 rushing yards on his first two times touching the ball in the game. He would finish the drive with a dazzling 13-yard run for a touchdown.  Getting so excited for his first touchdown of his career, he celebrated by taking off his helmet which cost his team a 15 -yard penalty.

His teammates were quick to get on him about making that mistake, as that was the result of a penalty in the Celebration Bowl that cost them the championship.

“They told me it cost us the [Celebration Bowl] Championship. I got a little excited, but instantly apologized to my coaches after the flag was thrown” Caldwell said.

Antonio Brown nccu
Defensive end Antonio Brown (17) pressures the Shaw quarterback (courtesy of NCCU Athletics)

With the help of Caldwell, Eagle fans were able to flap their wings again as the freshman would find David Miller for the 14-yard touchdown to put another seven on the board after the Johnson PAT. Caldwell finished throwing a perfect five-for-five for 47 yards and a touchdown; added in with 63 rushing yards and a score on the ground.

Totten sealed the deal with his second 25-yard rushing touchdown with 5:08 remaining in the game to give NCCU the 41-0 lead. That would go on to be the final score.

The offense weren’t the only ones who were clicking tonight. Defensive back Davanta Reynolds got a key interception, resulting in the first Totten touchdown in the second quarter. “The coaches continued to tell the defense that we must make plays, so it felt good to help my team out” Reynolds commented.

Head Coach, Jerry Mack was pleased with win, but noticed that they still have a long way to go to get back where they were last year.

The Eagles will have a bye week coming up, but will be back on September 21st at home at 7:30 against the South Carolina Bulldogs on ESPNU.

(Photos Credits: Donald Watkins Jr)

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