Aggies defeat Eagles in intense rivalry game
In an electrifying game with emotions running high, the Aggies of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University defeated their arch rival, the Eagles of North Carolina Central University this past weekend.
Before the game even started, there were multiple flags thrown by the officials. After a pregame scuffle between the two teams, three N.C. A&T players were given unsportsmanlike penalties, and one player from N.C. Central, defensive back Davante Reynolds, was ejected for throwing a punch and was escorted back to the locker room prior to kickoff.
During the Eagles first drive of the game, they had two offensive penalties resulting in a loss of 10 yards, halting their movement down the field. However after a 15 yard taunting penalty on the Aggie defense, the Eagles were able to move down the field and attempted a field goal but it was blocked by the defense.
On the Aggies first drive of the game, they were unable to get anything going offensively and ended up punting the ball back to the Eagles. After a scoreless first quarter, the Aggie offense was sparked by a series of hard runs by running back Jamari Smith who finished with 14 carries for 99 yards.
Quarterback Lamar Raynard threw a 13 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Elijah Bell in the end zone with six minutes left in the first half. Raynard finished the game 10-of-18 for passing, 153 yards and one touchdown. The Eagles were able to put some points on the board with a 52 yard field goal nailed by kicker Aedan Johnson just before halftime.
In the third quarter, the Aggies elected to receive the ball on kickoff and were able to move efficiently down the field. Running back Marquell Cartwright then was able to punch in a 1 yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Cartwright had 20 carries for 60 yards with two touchdowns for the day.
After an unsuccessful offensive drive by the Eagles, the Aggies quickly drove down the field,and scored again with a two yard touchdown run by Cartwright bringing the score to 21-7. After a scuffle broke out at the bottom of the pile on that play, defensive lineman Ja’Quan Smith was ejected from the game after making contact with an official.
On the next offensive drive for the Eagles late in the third quarter, the defense for N.C. A&T was penalized four times, three times for unsportsmanlike conduct and once for a facemask penalty, resulting in over 50 yards for the Eagles. They used those mistakes to their advantage with running back Isaiah Totten who rushed for a three yard touchdown, their only touchdown of the day.
With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Aggies had a 10 play, 67 yard drive but were unable to score a touchdown. Kicker Noel Ruiz made a 31 yard field goal to put the Aggies up 24-10. Neither team scored again, however the Eagles attempted a last minute hail mary drive with only minutes left in the game, but were unable to reach the end zone due to an aggressive N.C. A&T defense.
With their victory on Sunday, the Aggies clinched their first outright Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 14 years, and finished the season undefeated. They also secured a trip to Atlanta to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl next month for the second time.
The Aggies won the first ever Celebration Bowl back in 2015, 41-34 against Alcorn State University who represented the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Now Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen was named the MVP of that game after rushing for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
Though there is no word yet on who the Aggies will face in the SWAC, the game will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Atlanta on Dec. 16 and will air live on ABC at 12 pm.