North Carolina A&T is sick and tired of losing to North Carolina Central on the football field.
The Aggies have lost their last three meetings against their MEAC rivals when a win would have given them an uncontested conference title each time. This season, they get to host the Eagles and are looking to win an outright MEAC Championship for the first time since 2003.
Head coach Rod Broadway is looking for a victory in this rivalry, too. He coached at North Carolina Central from 2003 to 2006 and helped bring the program from Division II to the FCS level. Broadway has been the head coach at North Carolina A&T since 2011 and has led the Aggies to at least nine wins in three straight seasons.
2016 North Carolina A&T Football Season In Review
The Aggies may not have been able to defeat their rival last season, but it’s hard to call the overall results into question. North Carolina A&T notched its first victory ever against an FBS opponent when it knocked off Kent State in quadruple overtime. The Aggies outgained the Golden Flashes by 133 yards, and it was only close because of their four turnovers.
North Carolina A&T was killed by quarterback injuries in 2016. The Aggies lost second-string quarterback Kylil Carter in the win over Kent State, but the team was able to keep chugging along until mid-November. With just three games left in the season, starter Lamar Raynard went down with a torn chest muscle, and it was too much to overcome.
Tarik Cohen may not have finished his career with the Aggies with a conference title, but he did go down as the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher. Cohen was averaging 8.7 yards per carry prior to the injury to Raynard and finished the season just shy of 1,500 yards. Although he was only 5-foot-6, Cohen proved that he could carry the load and was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
Broadway was a defensive line coach in the FBS for 24 seasons before getting the chance to become a head coach, and his teams are known for their stout defenses. The Aggies were 27th in the nation in total defense and were fantastic at stopping the run. They were strong in the front seven and were one of only eight teams to give up less than four yards per carry.
2017 North Carolina A&T Football Season Preview
With Cohen in the NFL, this team belongs to Raynard now. He proved that he could be a good passer last season, completing 64.6 percent of his throws and averaging over seven yards per attempt—numbers that were considerably better than most of the quarterbacks in the MEAC. He doesn’t have great mobility, but that shouldn’t matter with how well this team typically runs the ball.
The offensive line is anchored by Brandon Parker, a player that is sure to be drafted next April. Parker was named the MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and the line was great with him holding down the edge. North Carolina A&T racked up over 200 yards per game on the ground and allowed just 12 sacks on the season.
Eight defensive starters return from last year’s team, including all-MEAC linebacker Jeremy Taylor. He led the team in tackles and tackles for loss and had a team-high four interceptions too. Taylor should wreak havoc once again.
2017 North Carolina A&T Football Schedule
September 2: North Carolina A&T at Gardner-Webb
September 9: North Carolina A&T vs. Mars Hill
September 16: North Carolina A&T at Charlotte
September 23: North Carolina A&T at Morgan State
September 30: North Carolina A&T at South Carolina State
October 7: North Carolina A&T vs. Delaware State
October 14: North Carolina A&T at Florida A&M
October 21: North Carolina A&T vs. Bethune-Cookman
November 4: North Carolina A&T at Norfolk State
November 11: North Carolina A&T vs. Savannah State
November 18: North Carolina A&T vs. North Carolina Central
FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch
North Carolina A&T is going to have a good chance to upset Charlotte. The 49ers just recently became an FBS program and are going through some difficult growing pains.
However, the game that matters the most comes at the end of the season. The MEAC will almost assuredly come down to the tilt between North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central. For once the Aggies seem to have an edge, as long as Raynard stays healthy. Provided he is, take NC Central to win this rivalry game in your FCS Pick ‘Em Contests.