Saturday, December 21, 2019

NC A&T Wins Third Straight HBCU National Title With 64-44 Win in Celebration Bowl

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – It might as well be called the Aggie Invitational. Five years into its existence, the Celebration Bowl, the unofficial HBCU national championship, has seen the North Carolina A&T football team play in it four times. For some, it felt like a home game of sorts. For NC A&T quarterback Kylil Carter, it indeed was a home game as the senior signal caller grew up in the greater Atlanta area. Carter, in his last game in an Aggie uniform, put on a show, throwing for six scores on his way to game MVP honors, leading North Carolina A&T to a 64-44 win and the Aggies’ third straight HBCU national title and fourth in the last five years.

Both teams traded punts to open the game and it seemed like it was going to be a defensive slug fest, but that was not going to last long. NC A&T was able to force another punt on Alcorn State’s second drive of the game, but a fumble on the punt return gave the ball back to the Braves in Aggie territory. The NC A&T defense stiffened up and kept Alcorn State out of the end zone, but the Braves were able to take a 3-0 lead into the second stanza on Corey McCullough’s 28-yard field goal.

The Aggies came alive in the second quarter, outscoring the Braves 24-7 to take a two-score lead into the locker room. A&T opened their scoring for the day with a fifty-three-yard bomb from Kylil Carter to Elijah Bell. It was the first of two scoring connections for the duo and the first of six touchdown passes for Carter on the day. The senior quarterback was named the game’s most outstanding player.

Also getting on the bord for the Aggies in the second quarter was Zachary Leslie with a fifty-nine-yard touchdown reception, Noel Ruiz with a twenty-six yard field goal, and Korey Banks with a four-yard touchdown grab. The fourteen point deficit at the half was the closest

The two teams put on an offensive show in the third quarter, combining for forty-nine points. It started with a seventy-five yard run from STATS second team All-American Jah-Maine Martin on the first play of the second half. The two teams proceeded to trade scores for the next five possessions. Carter threw three of his six touchdown passes in this period, a forty-three yard strike to Ron Hunt, a twenty-yard toss to Elijah Bell, and a seventy-three yard bomb to Korey Banks. Banks finished the game with 122 yards on six catches to lead the Aggie receiving corps.

The Aggies added another Ruiz field goal in the fourth quarter and Jah-Maine Martin scored his second touchdown of the afternoon late in the game. Martin finished with 132 yards rushing on sixteen attempts.

North Carolina A&T finishes the year at 9-3, co-champions of the MEAC, and Celebration bowl champions for the third year in a row. The Aggies will take on fellow FCS juggernaut North Dakota State in 2020 for ultimate FCS bragging rights. It’s a game fans have been waiting to see and the win today kept the Aggies in full celebration mode heading into the offseason.