And now it comes down to an in-town rivalry.
First, Bethune-Cookman lost to Hampton on Thursday night. Then South Carolina State was knocked off by Morgan State Saturday for the first time since 2002. That leaves North Carolina A&T, a 34-0 winner over Savannah State, alone in the top spot in the MEAC football championship race with one week remaining in the season.
What happened to the three-way, first place tie between Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State was interesting. Bethune-Cookman was heavily favored in losing to Hampton. South Carolina State was facing a Morgan State squad that has been strong all season, but was still the underdog.
But no one told the Bears.
In a game that went back and forth througout, Morgan State quarterback Moses Skillon ran a 9-yard touchdown with 58 seconds remaining to lift the Bears over South Carolina State 24-21. It was Morgan State's first win over South Carolina State since 2002 and first in Baltimore since 1974. Skillon finished with 289 yards and two touchdowns passing to go with his game winning TD run.
The win was big for Morgan State as the Bears will finish with at least a .500 record mark for the first time since 2009.
"It's a great accomplishment for these guys," said Morgan State head coach Lee Hull, as his team is 6-5 and can finish with above .500 for the only the fourth time since 1979 with a win next week against Delaware State. "I'm proud of them. This is something that we've talked about as one of our goals. If we do that, the season would be successful."
It was an even bigger loss for South Carolina State (7-4, 5-2 MEAC) as they are now completely out of contention for the MEAC title and likely an NCAA FCS playoff berth
"It was a very tough loss—we couldn't make anything happen and we didn't play well enough to win the game," said SC State head coach Buddy Pough. "We gave them too many opportunities because we couldn't do anything on offense."
So the only team to stick to the script, North Carolina A&T, now has at least a share of the MEAC title. But they face rival North Carolina Central next Saturday in regular-season finale that could mean an outright MEAC title for the Aggies or a share of the MEAC title with their hated rivals, North Carolina Central if the Eagles pull off the win.
Here is the rest of Saturday's HBCU football action. To see the results of the SIAC and CIAA championship football games, go to http://addshbcusportsreport.blogspot.com/2014/11/michael-thornton-td-run-with-38-seconds.html and http://addshbcusportsreport.blogspot.com/2014/11/virginia-state-tops-winston-salem-state.html
Alabama State 37, Grambling 23 (This game just made the Bayou Classic one of the biggest Bayou Classics in years. Grambling came out fast, leading 13-0, but couldn't keep up with ASU. Malcolm Cyrus, one of the nation's top rushers, had 180 yards and a touchdown while Daniel Duhart threw three touchdown passes. Grambling QB Johnathan Williams threw for 265 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards and another touchdown. The Grambling loss, partnered with Southern's win, means the winner of the Bayou Classic on Nov. 29 wins the SWAC West and will face Alcorn State in the SWAC Championship Game. Grambling, which sees is seven game winning streak end, is 7-4 overall and 7-1 in the SWAC)
Southern 44, Mississippi Valley State 13 (The other side of that big Bayou Classic on Nov. 29 had an easier time Saturday as the Jaguars erased a 13-0 first quarter deficit by erupting for 30 points in the second quarter and coasting from there. Lenard Tillery, who had a touchdown run during that second quarter onslaught, rushed for 162 yards to lead a dominating Southern running game that piled up 321 yards. Southern is 8-3 overall and 7-1 in the SWAC heading into the Grambling game)
Alcorn State 56, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6 (If you thought Alcorn State would slow down after clinching a SWAC title game appearance last week, you were wrong. John Gibbs Jr. led a balanced Braves offense with 200 yards and three touchdowns passing and 75 yards rushing. Brian Handley was a bright spot for UAPB as he rushed for 134 yards)
Jackson State 15, Texas Southern 10 (This game's only offensive touchdown proved to be the game winner as J-State quarterback LaMontiez Ivy tossed a 7-yard TD pass to Jarius Moll midway in the fourth quarter to give the Tigers the win. After starting out 5-1, Texas Southern has now lost five in a row while Jackson State breaks a five-game losing streak)
North Carolina A&T 34, Savannah State 0 (No surprises in this game as winless Savannah State, which has the MEAC's worst defense and one of the worst offenses, was no match for the Aggies, who not only are looking for an outright MEAC title,but also an automatic NCAA FCS playoff berth. Tarik Cohen rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Aggies. The A&T defense gave up minus-8 yards rushing to Savannah State. D'Vonte Grant had 11 tackles, three sacks, forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and have five tackles for losses for A&T)
North Carolina Central 19, Norfolk State 14 (Defensive back C.J. Moore blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone with just under six minutes remaining to lift the Eagles to a tough win. Neither offense gelled most of the day as both teams were under 100 yards rushing. North Carolina Central, 4-7 overall, could have a losing record overall but still claim a share of the MEAC title next week as they are 4-2 in the conference.)
Howard 28, Central Connecticut State 25 (Greg McGhee became the MEAC's all-time leader in total offense and he did it in grand style. Down 25-7 midway through the third quarter, McGhee finished the game with three touchdowns runs to give 4-7 Howard the win. With one game remaining next week, McGhee now has 9,913 yards in total offense, breaking the record formerly held by former Howard quarterback Ted White who played from 1994-98)
Florida A&M 41, Delaware State 7 (Quarterback Damien Fleming threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns as the Rattlers routed the Hornets. Fleming moves into second all-time among career FAMU passers with 6,868 yards, behind Quinn Gray, who threw for 7,376 yards from 1998-2001. Saturday he passed up Tony Ezell and Oterman Sampson-Delancy. He has another chance to move closer to Gray next week against Bethune-Cookman.
Langston 27, Bacone 14 (Langston, now 7-3 and ranked 17th team in the NAIA, gets a win that gives them the Central States Football League conference title and gives them the automatic bid to the NAIA playoffs.
Missouri S&T 14, Lincoln (Mo) 9
Glenville State 30, West Virginia State 7