As the day concludes, all is well in Eagleland, as North Carolina Central comes from behind to defeat the South Carolina State Bulldogs 33-28. For each team, tonight marked the beginning to the MEAC conference season.
South Carolina State (1-2, 0-1 MEAC) came out blazing! Five first downs on their first drive before Davanta Reynolds played the option pitch perfectly, snagging it in mid-air and returning the fumble recovery 85-yards for the 7-0 NCCU lead.
SC State would get on the board late in the first quarter after a boneheaded play on special teams by NC Central to tie the game up on a Dewann Ford strike to Kendall Cobb.
North Carolina Central (2-1, 1-0 MEAC) had no answer for Ford tonight. Ford would do his best Cam Newton impression on their next drive and get in the end zone using his feet, scoring a seven-yard rushing touchdown to extend the Bulldog lead to seven.
Ford was not done for the half. He found receiver Quan Caldwell for a 26-yard passing touchdown to give the visiting team a 21-7 lead on a nationally televised Thursday night football game.
The Eagles marched back down on the next drive and freshman quarterback Chauncey Caldwell found receiver Jordan Fieulleteau, another freshman, for the 27-yard touchdown. The score would be 21-14 after that touchdown and in to halftime.
Coming out of halftime, Aedan Johnson tagged on two consecutive field goals, but the Eagles still trailed 21-20.
SC State precisely moved their way down the field to end the third quarter, not before Dewann Ford would get his second rushing touchdown of the day to give the Bulldogs an eight-point cushion. Ford finished with 223 passing yards and four total touchdowns on the night (two passing, two rushing).
Naiil Ramadan, listed as third quon the depth chart, was thrown into the game in the last quarter after Caldwell took a play off to deal with a hand cramp. With the mood already tense after the SCSU touchdown, Ramadan came in and would give the Eagles a huge touchdown throw to Jacen Murphey to put the Eagles down by two with a two-point conversion on the line. Ramadan rolled out to his left hand to find a receiver open for the two-points, but was slammed WWE-style to shut down that attempt and the score was 28-26.
After a quick three-and-out by the SC State offense, Caldwell and the Eagles got back on the field looking to make something happen.
Caldwell found Josh McCoy streaking down the middle of two safeties and would get McCoy the ball to get the 38-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give NCCU their first lead of the game with 5:24 remaining in the game.
The defense held strong from there, forcing the visiting team to Punt then turnover on downs in consecutive drives to hold on for the victory.
Reggie Hunter exemplified his fighter mentality by finishing the game with a total of 9 tackles as well as knocking a pass down during SC States last possession of the game. Hunter was defined as a “solid player” by his teammates and that he really is. Antonio Brown also highlighted the game late in the fourth quarter by forcing a critical fourth down where South Carolina ended up punting the ball back to NCCU.
Caldwell threw for a total of 74 passing yards and 92 yards in rushing. Chauncey proved although he is a freshman he certainly knows how to gather a crowd AND a team together, “I stay locked in and focused when I’m on the field” mentioned the Freshman on his key to success.
North Carolina Central University will take their show on the road next week for their second straight Thursday night game as they will play a tough Florida A&M team in Tallahassee.