NCCU suffers loss against rival NC A&T in season finale

NCCU suffers loss against rival NC A&T in season finale

N.C. Central's season ended with a loss to the N.C. A&T Aggies. It's the first time the Eagles have lost to the Aggies under head coach Jerry Mack.

Above: North Carolina Central safety Alden McClellon (32) brings down North Carolina A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard (7) during the first half of the Aggies’ 24-10 win over the Eagles. Photo by Keshawn Ennis, NCCU Athletics.

N.C. Central Eagles and the N.C. A&T Aggies continued their heated rivalry in Aggie Stadium on Nov. 18.

The undefeated Aggies (11-0) got the best of the Eagles (7-4), winning with a final score of 24-10. That secured the Aggies’ first Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) in 14 years and a Celebration Bowl appearance.

Tensions were high before in-game action could even begin. Players on each side were involved in a mid-field scuffle during pre-game warmups. While both teams received personal fouls, NCCU safety Davanta Reynolds was disqualified from participating in the game.

The teams drew a total of 27 fouls, most for unsportsmanlike conduct. This is a testament to the bitter rivalry between the teams.

The Eagles’ offense struggled throughout the game, only amassing 215 yards and struggling to find consistency in the running and passing game.

The Aggies put up 358 total offensive yards, keeping the Eagles defense on its heels to defend against their well-balanced offensive attack.

Both teams remained scoreless throughout the first 15 minutes of play. NC A&T receiver Elijah Bell ended the scoring drought, catching a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lamar Raynard in the second quarter.

N.C. Central struck back, driving down the field and ending the drive with a 52-yard field goal going into halftime, making the score 7-3.

In the third quarter, running back Marquell Cartwright gave the Aggies a comfortable lead with back-to-back touchdowns near the goal line. The Eagles would capitalize with a successful drive of their own, ending with a 3-yard score by Isaiah Totten to close out the third quarter.

NCCU’s offense struggled to score in the fourth quarter, being forced to punt on their first few opening drives.

Penalties would once again prove to be a factor, preventing both teams from scoring. The Eagles desperately needed a score late in the fourth quarter. But a critical third-down scramble by quarterback Chauncey Caldwell on third-and-8 was pushed back due to an offensive holding penalty. That ended the Eagles’ hopes of coming back.

This win was N.C. A&T’s first win against N.C. Central since head coach Jerry Mack came to NCCU.

“They made more plays than us when it came down to it,” Mack said. “That’s why they are champs.”

NCCU looks to grow through this devastating loss and begin to make changes going into the offseason as many of its seniors will be gone and young players will be evaluated.

“You live and you learn,” Mack said. “We will add pieces to the puzzle and be right back in contention next year.”

Jalon Hill

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