Wednesday, November 16, 2016

North Carolina A&T Visits North Carolina Central to Battle for MEAC Title and Celebration Bowl Bid; Preview of All Nov. 19 HBCU Football Games


What better way to settle the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football championship with a game between two bitter rivals?

That's what happens Saturday when North Carolina A&T (9-1, 6-0 MEAC) and North Carolina Central (8-2, 7-0 MEAC) meet in their season-ending rivalry game that didn't need anything else to make it a big game.

But with the MEAC title riding on this game, it has reached the magnitude of being a much bigger game.

"It's going to be a big one," North Carolina A&T Head Coach Rod Broadway said after last Saturday's win over Delaware State.  "We're going up against a 7-0 team and they are our biggest rival. We have to be better prepared to play well (Saturday)."

The winner wins the MEAC title outright and a trip to the Celebration Bowel in Atlanta where they will play the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion on Dec. 17.  North Carolina A&T is ranked ninth in the country while North Carolina Central is ranked 25th.

Last season, they shared the MEAC title, with A&T getting the tie-break to get the Celebration Bowl bid, a game in which they defeated Alcorn State.

This season, the Aggies have A&T has plowed their way through, their only loss coming to FBS team Tulsa in week three, a week after defeating another FBS team, Kent State.  Sporting the MEAC's top offense and top defense, they haven't scored less than 30 points since their Tulsa loss (when they lost 58-21) and only two teams have managed to score as many as 20 points against them since then.

A&T running back Tarik Cohen has continued his sensational career, rushing for more than 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns this year.  He leads the nation in touchdowns and has rushed for 200 yards four times this season, in which he is a strong candidate for the Walton Payton Award, which goes to the top FCS player each season.

He will be a focus for the North Carolina Central defense that is fourth in the conference in total defense and rushing defense.

The Eagles calling card is offense, as they have the MEAC's top passing offense, led by senior Malcolm Bell.  Bell has thrown for 2,007 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead the MEAC in both categories.  He is finishing up an NCCU career in which he ranks second all-time in passing and second in total offense.

Interestingly, he was named the MEAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week last week with, who else, Cohen.

Another storyline is this - the winner will be assured of another week of football this season.  The loser will be at the mercy of the NCAA FCS Football Playoff Selection Committee which will Sunday choose the field for this year's playoffs.

The MEAC gave up their seat on the selection committee and the conference's automatic berth in the FCS playoffs so the champion could play in the Celebration Bowl.  That only leaves the chance for an at-large bid for other MEAC teams. This year, only two MEAC teams have a chance -- North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central.

Here is the rundown of the rest of the Nov. 19 HBCU football schedule:


Mississippi Valley State at Southern - Barring any insane upset, Southern (7-2, 7-0 SWAC) will look to ensure that next week's Bayou Classic against Grambling will be the winner-take-all for the West Division spot in the SWAC title game.  Southern has won seven in a row after losing their first two to FBS teams.  Mississippi Valley State (1-9, 1-7 SWAC) would love to close out the season by upsetting the SWAC apple cart.  But besides a big win over fellow woeful squad in Arkansas-Pine Bluff, MVSU has given up at least 56 points in each of their last four losses.  That's not good news as Southern's offense is second in the SWAC in scoring and total offense and features receiver Willie Quinn, quarterback Austin Howard and running back Lenard Tillery, who ran for 245 yards last week, most by a SWAC player in three seasons.

Alabama A&M at Auburn - This doesn't not look like a good day coming for Alabama A&M (4-6, 4-5 SWAC)  A&M has already ensured that they will finish second in the SWAC East, their highest placing in seven years.  But FBS SEC Auburn is tuning up for their huge showdown with the nation's No. 1 FBS team in Alabama and a place in the SEC Championship game next weekend.  So they will be looking for a big tune-up to get some momentum, especially after losing to Georgia last week.

Jackson State at Alcorn State - Alcorn State (4-5, 4-4 SWAC) has had a disappointing season, to say the least.  What they don't want to do is end the regular season with a losing record, even as they are assured a spot in the SWAC title game as winners of their third straight SWAC East championship.  They are looking for another big game from quarterback Noah Jackson who scored eight TD's week in their blowout of Mississippi Valley State. Jackson State (3-7, 3-5 SWAC) is limping to the of the season, losing four of their last five, and three straight for the second time this season.

Grambling at Texas Southern - The script for Grambling (7-1, 7-0 SWAC) is the same one for Southern - take care of business this week and play for the SWAC West title and championship game berth next week.  But Grambling has the tougher matchup this week. Texas Southern (4-6, 4-4 SWAC) has lost three of their last four, but they have had a lot of close games this season. They feature the SWAC's third-best overall defense.  But Grambling is led by the conference's best passer in Devante Kincaid 2,159 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. And pass defense isn't TSU's best area.

Prairie View at Arkansas-Pine Bluff - The season has been on in which Prairie View (6-4, 6-2 SWAC) has lost to some good teams - two FBS teams, along with Grambling and Southern.  If they were in the SWAC East instead of the SWAC West with Southern and Grambling, they'd be in the SWAC championship game. But they are not. Trey Green is closing out a solid season as their freshman quarterback, throwing for 1300 yards and nine touchdowns this season.  Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-9, 1-7 SWAC) is closing out a season in which their one win was a shocker over Alcorn State. But they are a team that struggles to score and are last in total defense in the SWAC. For the season, they've averaged a SWAC-worst 14.3 points a game and have scored just 41 points over the last five games.


Norfolk State at Hampton - Fresh off their first-ever win at South Carolina State last week, Norfolk State (3-7, 2-5 MEAC) looks to close out their season with another win. They've won two of their last three after losing six straight.  Hampton (5-4, 5-2 MEAC) has won four of their last five, and trying to erase the memory of two their two losses, one to North Carolina A&T, that could have meant a share of the MEAC title.

Morgan State at Army - Morgan State (2-7, 2-5 MEAC) steps out of MEAC play this week to face Army (5-5), a team that's lost their last two games, against Air Force and Notre Dame. They are led by quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who runs a triple-option rushing attack heavy on the run. Morgan State has lost five straight games, but they do have a decent rushing defense, as they are ranked fifth in the MEAC.

Savannah State at South Carolina State - After losing their three opening games against FBS opponents, things looked to be heading in the right direction when South Carolina State (3-6, 3-3 MEAC) won their next three games, all against MEAC teams.  But the teams they beat were the MEAC's two bottom teams in Howard and Delaware State and an improving Florida A&M team. Since then, they've lost three straight, including last week's loss to Norfolk State.  Savannah State (3-5, 3-3 MEAC) has been the exact opposite.  They've won three conference games in a season for the first time ever and have had a great year, by their standards.  A win over South Carolina State would be huge for their program.

Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida A&M - The Orange Blossom Classic features a Bethune-Cookman (3-5, 3-3 MEAC) team that has awaken as of late, winning their last three games after losing their first five. What looked like another terrible Florida A&M (4-6, 4-3 MEAC) season that started with four straight losses has turned around for them too.  They've on four of their last six games, losing only to a really good Division II North Carolina Central team and to the best team in HBCU football, North Carolina A&T. BCU likes to score, as their 25 points per game is third in the MEAC. That's a problem for FAMU as they are ninth in scoring defense, giving up 32 points a game. Bethune-Cookman is a great running team, while FAMU struggles against the rush.  But the Rattlers do have the MEAC's top pass defense. Freshman quarterback Ryan Stanley has been a spark for FAMU this season.


Tennessee State at Southeast Missouri - Tennessee State (6-4, 3-3 OVC) will close out a season in which they started 4-0, but then lost four of their next six games.  They were blown out last weekend, 44-16 at home to Tennessee Tech after having to get a late win the week before to hold off winless Austin Peay.  SEMO has lost four of their last five, including the last two.  They have struggled on offense during that streak when they've averaged 14 points in those four losses.

NCAA Places Southern Athletics on Five Years Probation, Citing Lack of Institution Control After 218 Athletes Improperly Certified Over Six-Year Period


After finding that more than 200 student-athletes were improperly certified over a six-year period for all of their 15 inter-collegiate athletic teams, the NCAA has placed the Southern University athletics department on five years probation, until Nov. 15, 2021.

As detailed in the NCAA's Public Infractions Report released Nov. 16, there were 439 instances involving 218 student-athletes.

"Southern University lacked institutional control when it failed to monitor its eligibility process, did not properly apply financial aid rules and did not comply with Committees on Academic Performance penalties," according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

The panel blamed errors when academic records were transferred from an outdated system to a new system; poor record-keeping within the athletics department; and a lack of training and involvement by campus departments outside of athletics in the certification process.

Southern University officials accepted the panel's penalty of five years probation, a vacation of records involving ineligible student-athletes.  The University also self-imposed a $5,000 fine and scholarship reduction in softball, baseball, football, women's volleyball, both men's and women's track, and men's and women's basketball.

According to the NCAA:

"Over a four-year period, the university exceeded scholarship and counter limits in five sports when it did not properly apply financial aid rules to state tuition waivers. Louisiana state law allows all student-athletes who receive athletics scholarships to qualify for in-state tuition. NCAA rules require that tuition waivers like the Louisiana law be considered countable aid. In some instances, the university did not properly account for the waiver when determining scholarship packages for student-athletes, resulting in the university exceeding scholarship limits in baseball, women’s and men’s track, football and softball.

The Committee on Academic Performance previously required the university to reduce the amount of in-season playing and practice time for all sports because it did not meet certain NCAA academic performance benchmarks. The Committee on Academic Performance also reduced out-of-season practice time and the number of contests for men’s and women’s track, men’s basketball and football. Because of turnover at the university, especially in the compliance office, the university did not communicate the restrictions to the coaches, and the penalties were not completed.

There was also an allegation that involved a former athletics director, but the panel concluded that he did not violate NCAA rules."

Southern's Interim Athletic Director Roman Banks said "the violations detailed in the public report mostly occurred in the past and that no current student-athlete is ineligible as a result of the violations outlined in the public report."

"Today's outcome is the end of a long journey," said Southern University System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton. "Going forward, we remain committed to investing to ensure we have the infrastructure to support a productive athletic program and strong institutional control and outstanding NCAA compliance."

The full report can be seen at

Here are the penalties imposed by the NCAA and self-imposed by Southern:

Penalties prescribed by the panel include the following:
  • Public reprimand and censure for the university.
  • Five years of probation from Nov. 16, 2016, through Nov. 15, 2021.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. After the release of the public report, the university will identify the competitions affected.
The panel accepted the following penalties self-imposed by the university:
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A reduction of women’s soccer scholarships by one during the 2016-17 academic year and by one during the 2017-18 academic year.
  • A reduction of softball scholarships by 1.5 during the 2016-17 academic year, by 1.5 during the 2017-18 academic year and by 0.78 during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A reduction of baseball scholarships by 2.3 during the 2016-17 academic year, by 2.3 during the 2017-18 academic year and by 2.3 during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A reduction of football scholarships by five during the 2016-17 academic year, by five during the 2017-18 academic year and by five during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A reduction of women’s volleyball scholarships by one during the 2016-17 academic year and by one during the 2017-18 academic year.
  • A reduction of men’s track scholarships by 2.11 during the 2016-17 academic year, by 2.11 during the 2017-18 academic year and by 2.1 during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A reduction of women’s track scholarships by 3.6 during the 2016-17 academic year, by 3.6 during the 2017-18 academic year and by 3.6 during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by one during the 2016-17 academic year, by one during the 2017-18 academic year and by one during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A reduction of women’s basketball scholarships by one during the 2016-17 academic year, by one during the 2017-18 academic year and by one during the 2018-19 academic year.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tuskegee and Winston-Salem State Make Division II Playoff Field; Bowie State and Virginia State Seasons End


In is Tuskegee and Winston-Salem State.  Out is Bowie State and Virginia State. 

The NCAA Division II Football Playoff pairings were announced Sunday afternoon and of the four HBCU football teams with a shot of making the playoff field, the CIAA champs in Winston-Salem State received a No. 7 seed as did the SIAC's best team, though not champion team, Tuskegee. 

Tuskegee (8-2)  will be on the road to take on second-seeded Newberry Saturday at 1 p.m.  Newberry (10-1) won their last ten games after a season-opening loss to Florida Tech. They came from behind to defeat Wingate 27-22 Saturday to win their their third-ever, and first time outright, South Atlantic Conference title.

Tuskegee's wild week had the school wondering if the Golden Tigers would be able to play in the playoffs or even be eligible.  After losing to Kentucky State and missing out on playing in the SIAC Championship game, Tuskegee was left with only nine games when ten is required for NCAA playoff participation.  The loser of last week's Albany State-Fort Valley State game agreed to play Tuskegee to give them that needed 10th game.  But with Fort Valley State going on to win that game (and advance and win the SIAC championship Saturday), Albany State decided two days later that they would not play Tuskegee and allowed their season to win. 

But Tuskegee officials called around and found a willing opponent in Virginia State of the CIAA. The Trojans traveled to Tuskegee and defeated the Golden Tigers Saturday 45-33, leaving Tuskegee with the required 10 games, but now with another loss. 

However, they got in. 

Saturday's victor, Virginia State, didn't.  The Trojans, who finished 9-2, had hoped to boost their playoff resume.  But with losses to Bowie State and Winston-Salem State on their schedule, the Trojans couldn't climb up the rankings into the playoff field. 

Winston-Salem State (9-2) won their final eight games, including Saturday's 43-33 defeat of Bowie State in the CIAA Championship game.  The Rams will be on the road to take on second-ranked LIU Post, a team that is undefeated at 11-0. Saturday, they easily won the Northeast 10 championship over Assumption for the second consecutive year.

Bowie State (7-4) was hoping for an outside chance at getting into the playoff field, but after being ranked ninth in Super Region I last week, their loss in the CIAA title game likely doomed their chances.  However, North Greenville also finished 7-4 and made the field. 

Virginia State Improves Playoff Resume With 45-33 Win Over Tuskegee


Tuskegee needed a 10th game to make sure they would be eligible for the NCAA Division II football playoffs.  They got the game.  But they didn't get a win. 

The bruising Virginia State rushing game was in full effect as Trenton Cannon rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and Kavon Bellamy added 82 yards as Virginia State improved their own playoff resume with a 45-33 win over Tuskegee Saturday. 

What would have been Tuskegee's 10th game had been Stillman College.  But Stillman dropped football and Tuskegee couldn't find anyone willing to play them in the thick of conference play.  Had Tuskegee had not been upset by Kentucky State in October, the Golden Tigers would have played in Saturday's SIAC championship game, giving them a tenth game.  But that didn't happen. 

Albany State had agreed to play Tuskegee since they lost to Fort Valley State in a game that determined who would have played Kentucky State in the SIAC title game.  Albany State lost that game last weekend, but two days later decided not to play Tuskegee for a second time this season. 

Tuskegee officials, who were denied a waiver by the NCAA, furiously started calling around this week. Virginia State accepted Tuskegee's invite to come to Alabama and play the Golden Tigers. 

It turned out to be a good thing for Virginia State and not so good thing for Tuskegee Saturday. 

Tuskegee only led once, 7-3 in the first quarter after Kevin Lacey's 16-yard pass to Desmond Reece. But Virginia State answered and put the game away with 21 unanswered points on second quarter touchdowns from Tarian Ayers (a 2-yard touchdown pass), Marcus VanHook (79-yard punt return) and a 75-yard kickoff return for a TD by Cannon that opened the second half. 

Tuskegee couldn't get any closer than ten points the rest of the way. 

Ayers finished with 150 yards and a touchdown passing and 50 yards and a touchdown rushing for Virginia State.  Lacey and Jamarcus Ezell combined for 242 yards and three TDs passing for Tuskegee. Reece finished with one TD rushing and two receiving. Osband Thompson had 15 tackles for Tuskegee, with Quavon Taylor adding ten. 

Tuskegee, who had been ranked No. 6 in Super Region II last week, awaits Sunday's 5 p.m. NCAA announcement of the latest Super Region rankings. The top seven teams in each of the four Super Regions make the Division II playoffs.  Virginia State is also hoping to make the playoffs, but both their losses came to Winston-Salem State, who was ranked tenth in Super Region I, and Bowie State, who was ranked ninth. 

Tuskegee, Winston-Salem State, Virginia State and Bowie State Await Sunday NCAA Division II Football Playoff Announcement


The waiting game now starts.

Four HBCU Division II football teams - Tuskegee of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Winston-Salem State, Bowie State and Virginia State from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association await Sunday's 5 p.m. EST NCAA Division II Super Region Rankings announcement to see if they will make the NCAA Playoffs.

The top seven teams in each of the four Super Regions make the playoff field.

Only one - Tuskegee - had seemed to be a lock.  The Golden Tigers, who didn't make the SIAC Championship Game as they were upset by Kentucky State, finished the regular season ranked sixth in Super Region II.

But Tuskegee needed a another game on their schedule after one of their games was cancelled earlier this season.  The NCAA requires 10 games for playoff participants.  That newly scheduled game came yesterday against Virginia State and resulted in their second loss of the season, 45-35. Tuskegee finishes the regular season with an 8-2 record.

Winston-Salem State (9-2), a team that won their final eight games to earn the CIAA championship, was ranked 10th in Super Region I.  They defeated the ninth ranked team, Bowie State (7-4), in the CIAA title game Saturday.

Virginia State finished the season 9-2, but their losses came to Winston-Salem State and Bowie State.

Otis Brown Touchdown Pass Gives Fort Valley State a 33-30 Double Overtime SIAC Championship Game Win Over Kentucky State


Otis Brown's 11-yard touchdown pass to Chauncey Jackson in the second overtime lifted Fort Valley State to 33-30 victory over Kentucky State in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game Saturday.

Fittingly, Fort Valley State (5-6, 5-3 SIAC) had been down by two touchdowns early before getting their offense going to win the school's first SIAC title since 1999.  Fort Valley State lost six straight games to start the season before coming back to win their final five games.

One of those losses came to Kentucky State (4-7, 4-4 SIAC) on Oct. 8. KSU defeated Fort Valley State 26-10 starting a three-game winning streak over SIAC East foes FVSU, Miles and Tuskegee that propelled them into the SIAC Championship Game.

Kentucky State jumped out the 14-0 lead after Jules St. Ge threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Reginal Harris and Lavelle Cloyd broke off a 58-yard touchdown run.   They led 21-7 before by Brian Walker's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Brown's first touchdown pass, a 16-yarder to Bolden Davis in the third quarter.

After trading field goals, the game went to overtime.  Juan Serna's 43-yard field goal put Fort Valley State up 27-24 in the first OT, but was matched by Bill Rose's 34-yarder to pull KSU back to 27-27. Rose got another field goal to start the second overtime, but Brown's TD toss to Jackson ended the game.

"You hate to lose games like this," said Kentucky State Head Coach John L. Smith, who was named the SIAC Coach of the Year.  "But I'm proud of what we accomplished this season and how much this team has grown to put ourselves in this position."

Brown threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns while Jackson, the game's Most Valuable Player, rushed for 43 yards and a TD and caught three passes for 43 yards and a TD.  Kentucky State was led by Cloyd's 119 yards and his touchdown run. St. Ge passed for 90 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 82 yards.

Canard Brown's Kickoff Return Spurs Winston-Salem State Run, Giving Rams 43-33 CIAA Championship Win Over Bowie State

(Photo by Shawn Sprouse-Roanoke Times)
Canard Brown's 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter ignited a Winston-Salem State run that broke open a close game in which the Rams won their eighth straight game and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in defeating Bowie State 43-33 Saturday.

Winston-Salem State's championship game win gives them their second straight CIAA title and their fourth since 2011.  It's their 12th CIAA championship in school history.  Bowie State (7-4, 7-2 CIAA) suffers their second consecutive championship game loss.

Winston-Salem State (9-2, 8-1 CIAA) jumped out to an early 14-0 first-quarter lead after Rod Tinsley's 50-yard touchdown pass to Will Walton and Justin Pickett's 42-yard touchdown run.  Bowie State answered with an Amir Hall 39-yard TD toss to Geordan Clark and a Robert Chesson 3-yard TD run.   That would be as close as Bowie State would get as on the ensuing kickoff, Brown weaved his way into the end zone to give WSSU their lead for good.   Twice in the second half led by as many as 16 points.

Kerrion Moore had a big day for Winston-Salem State, rushing for 177 yards and a touchdown. Tinsley finished with three touchdown passes, two of them to Walton.

Hall led Bowie State with 348 yards and three touchdowns passing, but he threw four interceptions. He also rushed for a touchdown. Nyme Manns caught 10 passes for 176 yards.  Chesson rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass.

Winston-Salem State now awaits Sunday afternoon's NCAA Division II Football Regional Rankings announcement see if their season continues in the Division II playoffs.  The top seven teams from each of the four regions make the playoffs.  Last week, Winston-Salem State was ranked 10th in Super Region One, just behind Bowie State. The announcement comes at 5 p.m. EST.