Considering the score, the football game looked in favor of the South Carolina State Bulldogs. But the North Carolina Central University Eagles had other plans, as they strapped up on defense and came from behind to get the win at home with the score of 33-28.
The Eagles trailed for most of the game, but were able to rebound to get the win. Due to hard work, intense plays, and staying focused on winning, Coach Jerry Mack and the Eagles continuously show that they aren’t a joke. Since covering the team, I’ve noticed their strong points along with some that can use a little work. Here are my top three things I have learned from the Maroon and Gray unit so far:
North Carolina Central’s defense is REAL!
Throughout the entire game, the Eagles defense had a MONSTER game. Defensive back Davanta Reynolds got the party started with an 85-yard interception, taking it to the house for a touchdown. Reynolds wasn’t alone when making big plays. Linebacker Reggie Hunter, defensive end Antonio Brown, and defensive back Alden McClellon combined for a total of 17 tackles. With the addition of the tackles, Defensive Linemen, Antonio Brown was able to force a key fumble, giving the ball back to NCCU at a crucial point in the game.
Since covering the Eagles, I have noticed that they have an issue with penalties. Too many of them could possibly hurt the team in a win. Before their bye week, NCCU competed against the Shaw Bears, in which game they racked up 155 penalty yards.
Coach Mack talked about the penalties and that He has encouraged the team to play smarter and that sometimes the officials are throwing flags, when the players are just trying to make blocks. The Eagles improved slightly this week, as they only had 101 penalty yards. 101 yard is entirely too much, but I am sure that as the season goes, the team is sure to clean up the silly mistakes that causes them to get penalties.
When Is Chauncey Going to Start?
Since covering North Carolina Central, I’ve also asked myself why hasn’t the second-string quarterback moved to the top of the depth chart? Starting quarterback Micah Zanders has struggled during his first three games and it was crystal clear on Thursday night. Zanders was injured his shoulder in the first quarter and that would bring in second-string quarterback, freshman Chauncey Caldwell, to get some snaps early than normal.
It’s always easy to tell when the Durham-native comes on the field; the crowd goes INSANE. Caldwell exhibited his great versatility on field by rushing for 72 yards and throwing for two touchdowns. He is a big body guy, which even helps him to get a grip on hard tackles. If you ask me, I think the freshmen has clearly shown that he is a force to be reckoned with and continues to show his strength and prove all the critics wrong.
If Coach Mack and the Eagles continue to show their intensity, I believe that they will win their fourth straight MEAC Championship. With a great defense, a great QB who can use his feet when his weapons aren’t open can led to a great opportunity to get back where they were last year.
North Carolina Central will be traveling to the sunshine state, as they take on Florida A&M in Tallahassee next Thursday night at 7:30 pm.
(Photos Courtesy of NCCU Athletics)