North Carolina Central’s defense was solid from beginning to end as the Eagles beat Gardner-Webb University 24-17 Saturday in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
The win was NCCU’s 11th consecutive victory at home. Gardner-Webb surely did start off running by showing exactly how capable their quarterback, Tyrell Maxwell, could run the ball down the field. The Eagles defense was just too much for these Running Bulldogs as NCCU’s Deniro Laster picked up a fumble recovery and marched his team down to their 41-yard line. A lot of chemistry was shown tonight with the Eagles quarterback Chauncey Caldwell and his ability to throw down the field. Although they started off a little shaky, Caldwell and receiver Jacen Murphy were able to take their team in field goal range to put three points on the board within the first half.
Defense continued to show that they would not allow these Running Bulldogs to move the ball. On the offensive side, Caldwell and Murphy continued to prove they could keep leading their team down the field as well as the quick redshirt-freshman running back Isaiah Totten, who ran the team down to NCCU’s 43-yard line. From here Caldwell threw a long pass to WR Nique Martin that landed the Eagles in the end zone to achieve the first Touchdown of the game. Special teams took the field & the kick was good! Gardner Webb was able to exemplify some good rushes down the field that landed them in position to put three points on to the board.
The Running Bulldogs pretty much ended up the action in the first half of the game going into halftime with a score of 10-3 NCCU. Coming into the second half of the game the Eagles didn’t make much progress on their first few drives. With some more cheers and chants from their audience, the offense began to warm up as Totten ran his team towards the end zone. 2nd and 6 at The Running Bulldogs nine yard line Caldwell took off for nine yards to land another Eagle Touchdown.
Offense definitely put the pressure on but the Running Bulldogs felt it was time to show their talents too. They continuously moved the ball from their 40-yard line to NCCU’s 23 yard line and from here quarterback Maxwell ran straight through Eagles D-line for a touchdown. Back and forth touchdowns began between the teams as Caldwell threw a 89-yard touchdown pass to Sophomore receiver Xavier McKoy making the score 24-10 NCCU.
From here the Eagle defense put the pressure on but the Running Bulldogs QB Keeper Tyrell Maxwell showed how well he could run by running into the end zone taking the score to 17-24 with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter. Offense continued to run the ball with little time left on the game clock, although NCCU was making little progress Gardner Webb called a Timeout. Each teams no longer having any timeouts left the Eagles offense eventually having to punt the ball back to the Running Bulldogs for a touchback.
The NC Central defense took the field strapped and locked in with 27 seconds left in the game making sure there would be no chance of overtime for these Running Bulldogs! The clock winded down & NC Central took their 5th win of the season.
Caldwell continued to prove his ability to lead the team having 333 passing yards. Many new faces showed talent with the Eagles this afternoon at receiver as seen with Xavier McKoy and his 139 receiving yards as well as an 89-yard touchdown. After the game McKoy stated “now teams will respect us more with our run game and we have a [quarterback] that can throw”.
This respect has been well earned by the three-time winning MEAC Champs as they have shown that they can defeat teams outside of their conference. Coach Jerry Mack and the NCCU Eagles will move in to the FCS top-25 this week after the win this weekend. North Carolina Central will put their 18-game undefeated conference streak on the line as they will host the Norfolk University Spartans here at O’Kelly Riddick Stadium next Saturday at 2 pm.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin L. Dorsey)