Friday, September 8, 2023

94th "Aggie-Eagle" Classic Leads In-State Saturday Schedule


The North Carolina Central Eagles and the North Carolina A&T Aggies are set to face off in a highly anticipated college football game tomorrow, Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 7:00 PM EST. The game will take place at Truist Stadium and will be broadcast on FloSports.

NC Central enters this game after a remarkable 10-2 season that saw them win the MEAC title, secure the HBCU national championship, and win the 2022 Celebration Bowl. They are ranked #18 in the nation and possess a strong lineup, including quarterback Davius Richard, the 2022 MEAC offensive player of the year. The Eagles have had a strong start to the season, with a rousing opening week victory against former CIAA for Winston-Salem State.

On the other hand, the North Carolina A&T Aggies dropped their first game against the UAB Blazers, an FBS squad from the American Athletic Conference. In the loss, the Aggies’ running attack was strong, with Kenji Christian, Wesley Graves, and Brickhandler averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 147 yards against a Group of Five conference team. Charlotte transfer BJ Turner made a game-high 14 tackles, marking his first career double-figure tackling game.

This showdown marks the 94th encounter between the Eagles and the Aggies. With the Aggies leading the series 53-35-5, it's a rivalry etched in football lore. In recent history, NC A&T has secured victories in 22 of the last 31 matchups, while NC Central has claimed eight of the most recent 16 contests.

The stage is set for an electrifying clash between two historic rivals. With a rich history, strong rosters, and passionate fan bases, this game promises to be a highlight of the season.

Other Big Games

Appalachian State at North Carolina: North Carolina and Appalachian State are facing off for the second straight season on Saturday at 5:15 on ACC Network. The Tar Heels was a 63-61 opening week barnburner in Boone last season and are looking to start their season 2-0 after an impressive win against South Carolina last week. A three-game series (two in Chapel Hill and one in Boone) comes to an end with Saturday's sold-out game. In addition to a sold-out crowd, App State's 34-31 triumph in 2019 included Kenan Stadium, and North Carolina’s 63-61 victory in Boone last year featured a record 40,168 spectators in Kidd Brewer Stadium. The final seconds of each of those games determined the winner. App State defeated FCS opponent Gardner-Webb 45-24 in their season opener. Joey Aguilar, who took over for injured quarterback Ryan Burger late in the first half, completed 11 of 13 passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns. On his first App State snap, he threw a touchdown pass. With the win over South Carolina, Mack Brown became the first head coach to win 100 games at two FBS schools. Kaimon Rucker was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week after his impressive performance against South Carolina leading a North Carolina defense that held South Carolina to -2 yards rushing.

Elon at Gardner-Webb: Gardner-Webb will play host to in-state foe Elon this Saturday at Spangler Stadium and broadcast on ESPN+. Elon currently holds the series advantage with a record of 22-11, with Gardner-Webb winning the first 11 games from 1970 through 1982. Since 2001, the two teams have split their past six matches 3-3. In the previous season, Gardner-Webb had a 24-20 lead against the Phoenix on the road, but Elon defeated the Runnin' Bulldogs 30-24 by holding Gardner-Webb without a goal in the second half. Gardner-Webb enters this week's match looking for its first win of the season after falling to FBS Appalachian State 45–24. Three catches for a career-high 67 yards, three touchdowns overall, and two running touchdowns were all recorded by Jayden Brown. After losing to ACC opponent Wake Forest 37-17, Elon also enters this game at 0-1. At halftime, the Phoenix was down 24-0, but by the start of the fourth quarter, the deficit had shrunk to 30-14. Caleb Curtain added one sack and returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown. Elon led the CAA with 34 total sacks last season when it sacked the Demon Deacons four times on Thursday.

Lenoir-Rhyne at Fayetteville State: The Lenoir-Rhyne Bears will face off against the Fayetteville State Broncos in a college football game on Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 6 p.m. at the Luther Nick Jeralds Stadium in Fayetteville, N.C. This will be the first meeting between the two teams in the 104-year history of LR football. The Bears are hoping to move to 2-0 on the young season with a win over Fayetteville St. This would be their second time under Mike Jacobs and only their fifth 2-0 start this century. In week one, Lenoir-Rhyne dominated St. Augustine’s with a 45-7 victory. The defense held the Falcons to just three first downs and 52 total yards, while special teams scored two touchdowns.

Fayetteville St. was a controversial selection to the 2022 NCAA Division II Playoffs but were bested by Delta St. in the opening round. They opened their season with a loss to UNC Pembroke, accounting for just 258 total yards of offense and turning the ball over twice. Defensively, they held Pembroke to just 42 yards rushing but were gashed in the passing game. Kentrell Caldwell and Cameron Merrell were named to the preseason watch list for the HBCU football player of the year award and anchor one of the best defensive units in the region. FSU was predicted to finish first in the preseason CIAA coaches poll.