Monday, September 3, 2018

NC A&T Tops East Carolina in Sunday Showdown

GREENVILLE – North Carolina A&T is no stranger to tough competition. In 2013, the Aggies defeated Appalachian State during the Mountaineers' FBS transition. In 2016, Kent State was knocked off in a four-overtime thriller. Last season, Mac McCain's pick-six sealed the deal at Charlotte. Today at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, the defending HBCU national champions took down the East Carolina Pirates of the American Athletic Conference. When the final horn sounded, North Carolina A&T players, coaches, and fans were celebrating a 28-23 victory and the program's fourteenth win in a row, tops in the nation.

After the first of Jake Verity's three field goals opened the scoring, A&T's Mac McCain picked off a pass in the end zone and raced down the field for the fourth pick-six in his short fourteen-game career. Blake Proehl (Providence) and Deondre Farrier hauled in two short scores to give ECU a 17-7 lead. Answering back before the half, Lamar Raynard (High Point Andrews) found Zachary Leslie (Burns) to cut the deficit to three. Raynard later left the game with an injured hand, but that did not stop the Aggie offense as backup quarterback Kylil Carter came in and threw for two scores, including the go-ahead TD with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

First-year NC A&T Head Coach Sam Washington was excited about the win. “I’m a proud coach, a proud parent. Those kids bust their butts. They believe start to finish. They persevere. We knew that adversity would come. I tell them all the time that it’s not about adversity, it’s about how you handle adversity. I thought they did a very fine job of it today.”

One bright spot for the Pirates was the play of first-time starter Reid Herring at quarterback. Hailing from Raleigh's Millbrook High School, the sophomore signal caller threw for over three hundred yards and two scores on Sunday afternoon.

Looking ahead to next week, North Carolina A&T (2-0) plays its first home game of the season at newly minted BB&T Stadium against Gardner-Webb (1-0) while East Carolina (0-1) hosts in-state FBS rival North Carolina (0-1).