Category Archives: Game of The Week
St. Augustine’s University came into Saturday’s game against New Haven with revenge on its mind but left just a little short of redemption. Twelfth-ranked New Haven came up with a 24-21 win the soggy turf at Durham County Stadium as St. Aug was unable to produce any points on its final drive.
It was a frustrating end to a frustrating game for the Falcons, who were hoping to avenge last year’s 50-14 loss to the Chargers. After a blanket of rain saturated the stadium shortly before kickoff, the game was delayed for nearly 30 minutes early in the second quarter. At that point, the Falcons led 7-0.
“Despite the weather, despite the delays, our guys came to play tonight,” said St. Aug coach Michael Costa. “They’re no. 12 in the country, we didn’t make them look like no. 12.
Shortly after play resumed, the Chargers (2-0) responded by driving down the field and tying the game after a five yard touchdown pass from Ronnie Nelson to Kameel Lashley. They added to their lead just before halftime when Chris Scifo kicked a 20 yard field goal as time expired in the first half, giving his team a 10-7.
Costa admitted his team’s performance after the delay was not as sharp as he would have liked.
“They had a little more intensity. We were a little flat,” he said. “We talked about that just before we came out, but we got it back together and we got back in the game.”
New Haven picked up where it left off as the second half started, quickly scoring on a 23 yard toss from Nelson to Jason Thompson to take a 17-10 lead with 8:09 remaining in the third quarter.
St. Aug (1-1) responded with a touchdown drive of its own, going 75 yards in 12 plays before being capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by freshman Roderick Davenport, cutting the margin to 17-14.
Just when it appeared that St. Aug had finally taken momentum from New Haven, disaster struck. St. Aug fumbled a lateral deep in its own territory and New Haven quickly took advantage, scoring on a five yard run less than a minute later and taking a 24-14 lead with 9:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers looked to have a firm grasp on the game at that point, but it quickly unraveled when Nelson’s pass was intercepted by the Falcon’s Dante Devouse with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We can’t make mistakes and lose focus,” Costa said. “We have to keep grinding.”
Six plays later, St. Aug’s Teddy Bacote found Brian Richards in the endzone for the second time on the day, this one a 13-yard strike through the heart of the New Haven defense and cutting the lead to 24-21 with 3:53 remaining.
The Falcons managed to stop the Charger offense on the next drive, but were pinned back at their own 10 after the punt with less than two minutes remaining and no timeouts. The Falcons managed to make a few first downs, but a failed fourth down conversion sealed the victory for New Haven.
Bacote finished 27 of 40 passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Richards caught 14 of those passes for 124 yards. Bacote noted that despite his team’s failure to avenge last year’s defeat at the hands of New Haven, he and his team left it all on the field.
“This shows we’re gonna battle and fight for what we want,” he said. “I’m proud of my team’s effort tonight.”
For Costa, the near-miss was a revelation on how his team has matured since last season.
“We’re doing things a lot different, we’re doing things a lot better and the kids believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve learned from last year. That shows we’re growing and maturing because we’ve learned from our mistakes.”
North Carolina Central’s 54-31 win over Fayetteville State wasn’t as clean as he would have liked, but NCCU coach Henry Frazier was pleased with the final result.
“D1/D2, teams switch divisions all the time, but it doesn’t matter,” said Frazier of NCCU’s former CIAA rival. “I’m just glad to get the win.”
Early on, both teams struggled to find their rhythm on offense and special teams. In fact, each team scored its initial touchdowns off of their opponents special teams miscues. FSU struck first when Chris Person recovered a block punt and stumbled into the end zone with just under 9 minutes in the first quarter. Frazier said he wasn’t surprised at the block kick.
“It happened twice in practice this week,” he said. “I keep telling the guys, what happens in practice also happens in a real game.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, the Broncos repaid them by touching a live ball after a punt, which found it’s way into Geovonie Irvin’s hands and into the endzone, tying the game with just over five minutes remaining. The Broncos would take a 10-7 lead on a Antonio Mayo field goal early in the second quarter, however, that would be their last lead of the game.
NCCU’s offense settled down in the second quarter, outscoring FSU 14-7 to take a 20-17 lead at half. It was all NCCU from their as the passing game came alive thanks to several hookups from quarterback Matt Goggans to Irvine. Irvine caught 6 passes for 79 yards, including a 20 yard touchdown strike from the back of the endzone.
FSU continued to fight in the fourth quarter, but the size and depth of NCCU proved to be too much for them overcome. FSU coach Kenny Phillips pointed out that the team also shot its chances of winning the game by turning the ball over three times.
“Bottom line, Phillips said, “we turned the ball over too many times against a team that is better than it was last year.”
One of those turnovers was a quarter interception that was returned 69 yards by NCCU’s Allonte Tuppins, which gave FSU a ten point lead which it never relinquished. Despite the final score, Phillips said he was pleased with his team’s effort as a whole.
“We fought for four quarters,” he said. “We got winded on defense, but that was due to not being able to move the ball on offense.”
NCCU controlled the line of scrimmage, holding FSU to just 60 yards on 34 attempts while rushing for 197 yards on their own 34 attempts. Arthur Goforth led NCCU with 85 yards rushing, adding one touchdown. Andre Clark scored on two of his eight rushing attempts, finishing with 47 yards.
In his first start since transferring to NCCU in the spring, Goggans completed 15 of 26 passes for 233 yards and one touchdowns. His numbers would have been even better if not for several drops by his receivers. After the game, Goggans admitted to having pre-game jitters early on.
“There were some nerves, but we started to get a good rhythm,” he said. “It started slowing down and it felt like football.”
Frazier had nothing but praise for his new starting quarterback.
“Matt made a lot of good plays. He recognized what the defense was doing and was making some audibles at the line,” he said. “He has what the players call “swag.”
NCCU will face Elon on the road next week.