DAYTONA BEACH — Defensive end Erik Williams knew what to expect when he signed with Bethune-Cookman five years ago. He would be compared to his father.But he was used to it. The same thing happened when he played at Stranahan High School in Sunrise, west of Fort Lauderdale. And if the 6-3, 270-pound Williams is lucky enough to get a chance to play pro ball, he knows it will happen again.Erik’s father, Lee Williams, was a star defensive end at Stranahan and B-CU and went on to become an All-Pro in the NFL, where he played 10 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Houston Oilers (1984-93) and accumulated 82.5 sacks, registering double-digit sack totals four times.“Everyone wants to be just like their father,” Erik said, shrugging off any suggestion that following in Lee’s very substantial footsteps has ever been a burden.“People always tell me he was better than me,” Erik laughs.
Norfolk, VA—The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) unofficially kicked off its 2014 football season at this past Friday’s Annual Press Luncheon. To the surprise of few, the league’s coaches and sports information directors predicted Bethune-Cookman would defend their crown and finish the season atop the league standings.
Under the guidance of fifth year head coach Brian Jenkins, the Wildcats have established themselves as a perennial MEAC power and FCS Top 25 program. BCU enters the season looking for its third consecutive MEAC crown and seventh (7th) MEAC title overall.
2013 Co-Champions, South Carolina State, were predicted to finish 2nd in the league. North Carolina A&T, Howard, and Delaware State round out the Top 5.
Four Bethune-Cookman student-athletes received First Team All-MEAC recognition, two more were named to the All-MEAC Second Team, and one Wildcat picked up Third Team honors. Howard quarterback Greg McGee was selected as Offensive Player of the Year while Norfolk State linebacker/defensive end Lynden Trail picked up Defensive Player of the Year honors.
BCU will kickoff the 2014 campaign in South Florida on August 30th against in-state foe Florida International. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
|2014 Predicted Order of Finish
(First Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Bethune-Cookman 487
2. South Carolina State 457
3. North Carolina A&T 338
4. Howard 309
5. Delaware State 229
6. Norfolk State 225
7. Hampton 200
8. North Carolina Central 187
9. Morgan State 148
** Florida A&M and Savannah State are not eligible for post season competition therefore is not listed on the above prediction order
2014 Football All-Conference Preseason Teams
Offensive Player of the Year: Greg McGhee, Howard Defensive Player of the Year: Lynden Trail, Norfolk State
Norfolk, VA – Fourth-year head coach Brian Jenkins of Bethune-Cookman was selected for his third Coach of the Year honor. Jenkins led the Wildcats to a 7-1 MEAC mark and a 10-2 overall record. The Wildcats defeated Florida A&M, 29-10, to clinch a share of the conference’s regular season title and secure the MEAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division I (FCS) Championships. The Wildcats are currently ranked 12th in both the Sports Network’s FCS and FCS Coaches Poll. He has led Bethune-Cookman to three MEAC titles in four years and fell just one game shy of back-to-back undefeated MEAC finishes.
Howard quarterback Greg McGhee was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s (MEAC) Offensive Player of the Year and Joe Thomas of South Carolina State earned the Defensive Player of the Year honors, as voted on by the MEAC’s head football coaches and sports information directors.
North Carolina A&T’s Tarik Cohen earned the Rookie of the Year award and Tristan Bellamy, of S.C. State, was selected as Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Junior Greg McGhee led the MEAC in total offense (272.9 avg./g) and ranked second in passing yards per game (198.2 avg./g). He completed 228 passes on 385 attempts (59%) with 16 touchdowns in 12 games this season. He also finished the season ranked third in the MEAC in rushing with 896 yards (74.7 avg./g), on 157 attempts, and three touchdowns. McGhee ranks 19th in the nation in total offense and 31st in completions per game (19). He earned conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades twice this season. McGhee is the tenth Bison to earn the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year honor and first since Ted White in 1996.
Joe Thomas recorded 116 total tackles, 84 solo, with a conference-best 19 tackles for a loss during the 2013 campaign. Thomas collected 7.5 sacks, sixth in the MEAC, with one interception, five breakups, five hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to help the Bulldogs finish as the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense (80.5 avg./g) and No. 2 scoring defense (14.0 avg./g). Thomas earned Defensive Player of the Week honors once this season and is currently listed on the Sports Network’s Buck Buchannan Award watch list, which recognizes the nation’s top Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) defensive player. Thomas becomes the 13th Bulldog to earn the conference’s top defensive award, however he is only the second to have been selected in more than 10 years (David Erby 2010).
As a freshman, North Carolina A&T’s Tarik Cohen led the MEAC in rushing, averaging 104.4 yards per game (,) on 195 attempts with eight touchdowns. He earned the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week accolades three times and Rookie of the Week honors twice this season. A native of Bunn, North Carolina, Cohen became the first freshman in North Carolina A&T State history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Cohen’s is currently listed on the Sports Network’s Jerry Rice Award watch list, which recognizes the nation’s top FCS freshman. Cohen is just the second Aggie to be named Rookie of the Year. He joins the school’s all-time rushing leader, Mike Mayhew, who earned the honor in 2009.
Tristan Bellamy aided a dominating Bulldog offense that accounted for 4,101 yards of total offense , including 2,000 yards on the ground. Behind Bellamy’s blocking S.C. State finished second in the MEAC in scoring offense (29.6 ppg), and third in total offense (341.1 avg./g). Bellamy earned the conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Week honor twice this season. Bellamy is the sixth Bulldog to earn Offensive Lineman of the Year accolades.
South Carolina State led all schools with 13 student-athletes recognized on the three MEAC post-season teams. The Bulldogs have five student-athletes earn first-team honors, in addition to two-of-four top awards.
Bethune-Cookman finished close behind with 12 student-athletes to earn post-season honors, in addition to five first-team selections.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) – 2013 Football All-Conference Teams
|QB||Greg McGhee||Jr.||Howard||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|RB||Tarik Cohen||Fr.||North Carolina A&T||Bunn, N.C.|
|RB||Rolandan Finch||Grad.||Norfolk State||New Albany, Ind.|
|WR||Tyler McDonald||Sr.||South Carolina State||Summerville, S.C.|
|WR||Milton Williams III||Jr.||Delaware State||Upper Marlboro, Md.|
|TE||Joseph Hawkins||r-Sr.||Norfolk State||Chicago, Ill.|
|C||Andrew Edourad||Jr.||Bethune-Cookman||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|OL||Karim Barton||Sr.||Morgan State||Los Angeles, Calif.|
|OL||Alex Monroe||Sr.||Bethune-Cookman||Jacksonville, Fla.|
|OL||Domanic Wilson||r-So.||South Carolina State||Lake City, S.C.|
|OL||Rashard Brown||Sr.||Bethune-Cookman||Kissimmee, Fla.|
|DL||Miles Groom||So.||Hampton||Richmond, Va.|
|DL||Andrew Carter||r-Jr.||South Carolina State||Hamlet, N.C.|
|DL||Alex Glover||Jr.||South Carolina State||Charlotte, N.C.|
|DL||Rodney Gunter||Jr.||Delaware State||Haines, Fla.|
|LB||Lynden Trail||r-Jr.||Norfolk State||Miami, Fla.|
|LB||Jarkevis Fields||Sr.||Bethune-Cookman||Samford, Fla.|
|LB||Joe Thomas||r-Sr.||South Carolina State||Blackville, S.C.|
|DB||Nick Addison||Jr.||Bethune-Cookman||Tampa, Fla.|
|DB||Darrin Marrow||r-Jr.||Norfolk State||Virginia Beach, Va.|
|DB||Justin Blake||r-Sr.||Hampton||Piscataway, N.J.|
|DB||Ademola Olatunji||Jr.||Howard||Riverdale, Md.|
|P||Lawrence Forbes||r-Fr.||Morgan State||Upper Marlboro, Md.|
|PK||Anthony Prevost||Fr.||Hampton||Chesterfield, Va.|
|RS||Adrian Wilkins||r-So.||North Carolina Central||Forest City, N.C.|
|QB||Cory Murphy||Sr.||Delaware State||Sunnyvale, Calif.|
|RB||Isidore Jackson||Sr.||Bethune-Cookman||Mossy Head, Fla.|
|RB||Anthony Philyaw||Fr.||Howard||Redondo Beach, Calif.|
|WR||Eddie Poole||Grad.||Bethune-Cookman||Belle Glade, Fla.|
|WR||Simon Heyward||Sr.||Savannah State||Savannah, Ga.|
|TE||Kris Drummond||Jr.||Savannah State||Washington, D.C.|
|C||Tristan Bellamy||r-Sr.||South Carolina State||Johnston, S.C.|
|OL||William Robinson||r-Jr.||North Carolina A&T||Clinton, Md.|
|OL||Nathan Isles||Sr.||North Carolina A&T||Atlanta, Ga.|
|OL||Darren Pinnock||Jr.||Morgan State||Miami, Fla.|
|OL||Kory Alpichi||Jr.||Hampton||Winchester, Calif.|
|DL||Dyron Dye||Grad.||Bethune-Cookman||Sanford, Fla.|
|DL||Javon Hargrave||So.||South Carolina State||Salisbury, N.C.|
|DL||LeBrandon Richardson||Jr.||Bethune-Cookman||Miami, Fla.|
|DL||Deon King||So.||Norfolk State||Reston, Va.|
|LB||D’Vonte Grant||Sr.||North Carolina A&T||Charlotte, N.C.|
|LB||Delbert Tyler||Sr.||Hampton||Monroeville, Pa.|
|LB||Tazmon Foster||Sr.||North Carolina Central||Henderson, N.C.|
|DB||D’Vonte Graham||Sr.||North Carolina A&T||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|DB||Michael Jones||Fr.||North Carolina Central||Baltimore, Md.|
|DB||Kimario McFadden||Sr.||South Carolina State||Riverdale, Ga.|
|DB||Carvin Johnson||Sr.||Hampton||New Orleans, La.|
|P||Christian Faber-Kinney||r-Fr.||Hampton||Williamsburg, Va.|
|PK||Nick Belcher||r-Sr.||South Carolina State||Sumter, S.C.|
|RS*||Tubotein Taylor||Sr.||Morgan State||Anaheim, Calif.|
|RS*||D’Vonte Graham||Sr.||North Carolina A&T||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|QB||Richard Cue||r-Sr.||South Carolina State||Florence, S.C.|
|RB||Lamont Brown||r-Fr.||Morgan State||Suffolk, Va.|
|RB||Justin Taylor||r-Sr.||South Carolina State||Atlanta, Ga.|
|WR||Antwon Chisholm||Sr.||Hampton||Belle Glade, Fla.|
|WR*||Lenworth Lennon||r-Jr.||Florida A&M||Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.|
|WR*||Malik Golson||r-Fr.||Delaware State||Smyrna, Del.|
|TE||Termarrick Hemingway||r-So.||South Carolina State||Loris, S.C.|
|C||Joshua Matthews||Sr.||Howard||Bowman, S.C.|
|OL||Toree Boyd||Fr.||Howard||Miami, Fla.|
|OL||Deonta Allen-Wright||r-So.||Howard||Midolthian, Va.|
|OL||Blake Matthews||r-Sr.||Norfolk State||Manassas, Va.|
|OL||Anthony Kibler||Jr.||Bethune-Cookman||Belle Glade, Fla.|
|DL||Tyree Hearn||Sr.||North Carolina A&T||Durham, N.C.|
|DL||Damon Gresham Chisholm||So.||Howard||Covington, Ga.|
|DL||George Riddick||Jr.||Norfolk State||Suffolk, Va.|
|DL||Tevin Toney||Sr.||Bethune-Cookman||Sebring, Fla.|
|LB||Marquis Smith||So.||Savannah State||Prince Georges County, Md.|
|LB||Cody Acker||Jr.||Morgan State||Greenbelt, Md.|
|LB||Ernest Adjei||Sr.||Delaware State||Woodbridge, Ga.|
|DB||Terrick Colston||So.||Delaware State||Lakeland, Fla.|
|DB||Travis Crosby||Sr.||North Carolina A&T||Charlotte, N.C.|
|DB||John Wilson||Sr.||Savannah State||Athens, Ga.|
|DB*||Tim Burke||Sr.||Bethune-Cookman||Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.|
|DB*||Patrick Aiken||r-So.||Florida A&M||Miramar, Fla.|
|P||Oleg Parent||Jr.||North Carolina Central||Lake Forest, Calif.|
|PK||Cody Jones||Fr.||North Carolina A&T||Gastonia, N.C.|
|RS||Darius Drummond||Sr.||South Carolina State||Asheville, N.C.|
BCU, bcu homecoming, Bethune-Cookman, Bethune-Cookman University, Brian Jenkins, Buddy Pough, fcs top 25, hbcu rivalries, marching 101, MEAC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Municipal Stadium, South Carolina State University, the sports network, Total Offense
What a great time to be in the World’s Most Famous Beach. The days are sunny, the nights are pleasant, and there is a tangible sensation of excitement permeating the air. It is homecoming week at Bethune-Cookman University and the Wildcats are preparing to take on perennial MEAC power South Carolina State.
This matchup is special any time it’s played. Adding the pageantry, expectations, and atmosphere of a homecoming event to it as well as the stakes of first place in the league standings makes it epic.
The BCU vs. SCSU annual showdown has become one of the best on-the-field rivalries (albeit a non-traditional one) in all of HBCU football. There is no disdain for or hatred of the opposing team’s fan base. There are no geographical wars over disputed lands of which to speak. To the best of our knowledge, no grandkids have been written out of the Will for choosing the wrong side and no giant oak trees have been poisoned (sorry Auburn fans). Instead, this rivalry evolved from intense, hard-hitting action on the field and the primal desire of 2 clans of alpha males slugging it out to prove that they are the MEAC’s top dog (or top cat if you prefer).
SCSU standout defensive lineman Javon Hargrave stated he thinks about Bethune-Cookman a lot. “The coaches keep saying how they’ve got us set up for homecoming,” Hargrave said. “We just don’t get along with Bethune-Cookman very well. South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman is a rivalry.”
Even Brian Jenkins ventured from his normal tight-lipped postgame rhetoric and repeatedly exclaimed his excitement about this weekend’s matchup after his team’s 48-21 dismantling of Savannah State. Jenkins used the word “excited nine times in a 24 second span and stated the game would be a “star-studded event.”
Tradional HBCU rivalries like Jackson State vs. Tennessee State; Alabama State vs. Alabama A&M; and FAMU vs. Southern all draw much larger crowds, but when BCU and SCSU tangle the outcomes have an impact on the college football landscape.
The winner of this game has gone on to win 4 of the last 5 MEAC championships. They share 5 playoff appearances between themselves since 2008 and they have won 2 Black College National Championships in that same timeframe. BCU and SCSU were predicted to finish 1st and 2nd respectively by the league’s coaches and sports information directors at this year’s MEAC Media Luncheon. They rank first and second in the league in Scoring Offense, Total Offense, Scoring Defense, and Total Defense.
SCSU head coach Buddy Pough has won four MEAC crowns in 11 seasons and guided the Bulldogs to an all-time MEAC best 21 consecutive game conference win streak from 2007-2010. In a twist of irony, BCU can match that mark this season if they win out and it was the Jenkins-led Wildcats who ended the Bulldogs win streak in Oliver Dawson Stadium in October of 2010.
The Wildcats have won 2 MEAC titles in Brian Jenkins’ first 3 seasons. Jenkins owns a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Pough and BCU has won 9 of the past 15 matchups with SCSU. The Wildcats are the only MEAC school to boast a winning record in Orangeburg during Pough’s tenure (3-1). However, this game isn’t being played in South Cackalacky and the homefield has proven to be somewhat of a disadvantage in this matchup as of late. The road team has inexplicably won 6 of the last 8 meetings in this contest. In SCSU’s last visit to Municipal Stadium two years ago, they left with a 26-18 victory.
The 2011 loss suffered at the hands of the Bulldogs is the only MEAC home defeat on Jenkins’ record and it is all that separates coach Jenkins from earning 3 MEAC crowns in 3 years. Saturday’s winner will earn sole possession of 1st place in the conference and gain a stronghold on the league’s automatic qualifier bid for postseason play.
It’s Buddy vs. Brian; the 101 vs. the Pride; the old guard vs. the new; Big Dogs vs. Big Cats; South Carolina State vs. Bethune-Cookman. It’s HBCU football at its best.
So tell us what you think. Has the BCU vs. SCSU matchup become the best non-traditional rivalry in HBCU football?
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Is this finally the year? That’s what teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Ohio Valley Conference have been asking themselves for too long.
They’re hoping the first half of the season suggests the FCS playoffs will be different – for whomever comes out of their respective conference.
But they might have an idea already the way OVC front-runners Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State and MEAC leaders Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State are playing this season. All four could be postseason-bound.
Both conferences are steeped in tradition, but, incredibly, a MEAC team has not won an FCS playoff game since 1999 and the OVC has been shut out since 2000.
UT Martin coach Jason Simpson said at OVC media day that the lack of playoff success is the “thorn in our (the conference’s) side right now.” South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough says success in the playoffs “is at a real, real high level. Until as a (MEAC) league we all get there, I don’t know if any individual can rise above it enough to hang in the league with the CAA and with the Southern Conference and those kinds of leagues.”
Coaches in both conferences point to difficult first-round matchups as the main reason for the playoff failure. When the playoffs were 16 teams deep, the MEAC sometimes ran into a regional road block against the CAA or SoCon, and the OVC champ sometimes ran into a Missouri Valley Football Conference team, and, in three different years from 2001-10, the eventual national champion, in an early round game.
This year’s results can’t be denied, however. The playoffs will expand from 20 to 24 teams, and both conferences could have two playoff qualifiers each.
In the OVC, No. 5-ranked Eastern Illinois (5-1) has basically had the best results of any team in the FCS, starting with a three-touchdown win at San Diego State and victories over Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Eastern Kentucky, losing only to Northern Illinois. The Jimmy Garoppolo express is on another level this season and the Panthers could be headed toward being a seeded team.
Tennessee State (6-1) might have the type of stingy defense to stop EIU, and the road-tested the Tigers hope to win the OVC’s automatic bid. The Tigers have only lost by a field goal to Bethune-Cookman
Speaking of whom, Bethune-Cookman (5-1) could enter the picture as the MEAC’s best hope to the playoff drought. Like Eastern Illinois, the Wildcats have a win over an FBS team (FIU) and their only loss was to another FBS opponent (Florida State).
They hosted playoff games in 2010 and last year, and have no intention of coughing up another home game if they have one this season.
But Bethune-Cookman may not even be the MEAC’s top club. South Carolina State (5-2) has reeled off five straight wins, including a sweep of North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central in a five-day span, to make a statement after having a rare subpar season under coach Buddy Pough. Their losses are only to Clemson and unbeaten Coastal Carolina.
South Carolina State hosts Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 26, which is also the date of the Eastern Illinois at Tennessee State showdown.
Veterans at quarterback and playmakers on defenses link the four teams. Victories in the playoffs may link them by season’s end.
BCU currently sits atop the conference rankings in both Total Defense (274.8 ypg) and Scoring Defense (18 ppg) while HU leads the MEAC in Total Offense (396.4) and Passing Offense (239.4). The Bison offense is directed by junior quarterback Greg McGhee who leads the conference in total yards (1414), passing yards (1153), and passing touchdowns (10); and only trails BCU’s Quentin Williams in passing efficiency and completion percentage. McGhee is coming off a stellar performance last week against North Carolina Central in which he completed 31 of 48 attempts for 328 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions in a 28-37 loss.
McGhee has the luxury of throwing to 3 of the league’s Top 10 receivers in Jonathan Booker, Brandon Flanagan, and Stewart Hartman.
Despite the numbers, the Bison have struggled to translate their offensive proficiency into wins. HU pulled off a near upset in Week One against FBS foe Eastern Michigan and defeated Division II Morehouse a week later. Since then, the Bison have lost three consecutive contests being outscored 140-66 in the process.
The Wildcats (who are ranked 13th in the FCS Coaches poll and 16th in the Sports Network Media poll) shook off a sluggish first half against Delaware State last week in route to their 14th consecutive MEAC win. BCU’s consecutive game win streak stretches back to October 20, 2011.
The Cats racked up 409 yards of offense against DSU including 241 yards on the ground. Four BCU running backs rushed for at least 40 yards in the contest (Cary White (65), Anthony Jordan (61), Isidore Jacskon (54) and Drexler Dixon (40)) while senior wide receiver Eddie Poole added 4 catches for 103 yards with 1 touchdown through the air.
Defensively, the Wildcats have registered 6 interceptions, 15 sacks and 36 tackles for loss this season. The aggressive and opportunistic BCU defense could be poised to have another big afternoon against HU’s high volume pass attack.
Jarkevis Fields pace the Cats D with 30 tackles while Dyron Dye leads the way with 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 3 sacks.
-BCU leads the overall series against HU 17-13-1 and have won 4 straight against the Bison.
-Howard University has billed Saturday’s contest as “Think Pink Day” and encourage all game attendees to wear something pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Perhaps Bethune will oblige by wearing the highly anticipated pink helmets….hmmmmm! We shall see.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
After a hard fought 12-9 road victory over Tennessee State last Sunday, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats return to the friendly confines of Municipal Stadium to take on the Virginia Union Panthers in today’s home opener.
Like Tenn State, Virginia Union will field a bevy of Floridians (19 are listed on VUU’s roster including 5 from Sanford Seminole) who would love nothing more than to shock the HBCU sports world by upsetting the top ranked team in black college football. But unlike TSU, Virginia Union, who competes in Division II, does not stand much of a chance in pulling off the upset against Brian Jenkins’ club.
The Panthers finished 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the CIAA a season ago. VUU was predicted to finish 8th in their conference heading into this season; they can offer just over half the number of scholarships as BCU (NCAA rules limit full football scholarships to 36 for D2 institutions; as compared to 63 for FCS programs); and today’s game is VUU’s season opener. All signs suggest this should be a decisive BCU win. But hey, its football and you still have to line-up and play the game.
In fact, Wildcat fans should well remember the last time a CIAA team visited Daytona Beach (in 2009) the Shaw Bears forced 7 BCU turnovers and may have helped seal the fate of then head coach Alvin Wyatt Sr. as the Bears defeated the Wildcats 20-6. We expect no such recurrence today. The Wildcats are simply too big, too strong, too fast and they should have no problems imposing their will on the out-manned Panthers.
Look for the BCU running game, led by senior Isidore Jackson, to have a huge day. Jackson is now less than 400 yards away from becoming Bethune-Cookman’s all-time leading rusher. Senior wide out Eddie Poole will look to continue his consecutive game pass-catching streak. No word yet on who will start under center for BCU but expect to see multiple signal callers during the course of today’s action.
Defensively, linebacker Jarkevis Fields and defensive end LeBrandon Richardson paced the Cats with 10 tackles apiece last week. Defensive tackle Tevin Toney proved to be a disruptive force in the interior adding 7 tackles of his own including 2 tackles-for-loss. The Wildcat defense should have little trouble in establishing a new line of scrimmage and pressuring the VUU attack.
Hidden Yards Kudos
Perhaps an “under the radar” bright spot from last week’s contest were the BCU return units. Freshman kick returner Darian Baker averaged 35.5 yards per kick return (long of 41) and Preston Cleckley averaged over 20 yards per punt return (long of 34) in last week’s matchup. It was a small sampling but so far, so good in the all-important “hidden yards” department. Another “hidden yards” category in which BCU thrived in week one was the penalty department. The Wildcats limited themselves to just 5 penalties for 35 yards. Let’s hope BCU continue to show improvement in these “hidden yards” categories in this game and throughout the course of the season.
We have been hearing great things about BCU’s new and improved cheerleading squad. The cheer squad is now under the direction of Becky and John Woodson and will consist of 30 members and 4 alternates. The Wildcat cheer squad recently collected a second place finish in ‘fight song cheer’, fourth place finish in ‘sideline cheer’, and were 4th overall in the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) camp in Philadelphia. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the hard work and dedication of the revamped cheer squad.
We are also excited to see the new, more energized and better organized student-led cheer section known as the “Wildcat Crazies”. Face-paint, body suits, and organized pandemonium, let’s see what you Crazy-Cats have in store for us this season.
Jordan Murphy hauled in a 6 yard TD pass from Jackie Wilson with 5:01 remaining in the 4th quarter giving Bethune-Cookman a 12-9 lead over Tennessee State and the game’s only touchdown. The Wildcats held on by the same scoreline and walked out of Sunday night’s John Merritt Classic with its 2nd victory over TSU in 8 tries.
Bethune dominated the opening quarter scoring on its first two possessions and limiting the TSU offense to no points and just 35 yards of offense in the process.
The only thing BCU did wrong in the opening frame was not score touchdowns. Instead, the Cats were forced to settle on two made field goals by Werley Cagle (21, 30 ) for an early 6-0 lead. Quarterback Brodrick Waters’ 33 yard strike to Preston Cleckley aided in setting up BCU’s initial score.
Tennessee State got its first points of the night in the 2nd quarter after Cagle botched the snap on a punt and was unable to get the kick away. TSU took over on the Wildcat 5 yard line but a stout BCU defense limited to damage to just 3 points. A second Jamin Godfrey field goal tied the game at 6 apiece heading into the half.
The Blue Tigers took advantage of its first possession of the second half and marched 86 yards on 18 plays covering 10:22. Godfrey’s 26 yard field goal gave TSU its first and only lead of the night.
But the Wildcats were not to be denied. BCU sealed the victory when Wilson connected with Murphy on a 6 yard TD strike in the left endzone which capped a 12 play, 71 yard scoring drive. Wilson went 4-4 for 40 yards on the game clinching drive.
Defensively, the Wildcats held Tennessee State without a touchdown and limited the Tigers to just 248 yards of offense.
The Bethune-Cookman football team will be without the services of All-American left tackle Terrance Hackney when they take to the gridiron this season. Sources close to the program have stated Hackney is academically ineligible this season.
The 6-6, 310 pound junior from Chapel Hill, NC helped anchor the MEAC’s top offense in 2012 and earned numerous All-American honors including Lindy’s 2013 Preseason All-FCS First Team and Sports Network 2013 All-FCS Second Team recognition.
Sources state an official release regarding Hackney’s status is expected on Monday.
Additionally, class of 2012 signee and highly regarded wide receiver Ray Martin has also left the program. According to online reports, Martin has transferred to Fresno City College in California
BCU, Bethune-Cookman University, Brian Jenkins, Erik Williams, isidore jackson, jarkevis fields, john merritt classic, MEAC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, tennessee state, Total Offense, University of Memphis, Wildcat
The Bethune-Cookman football team has enjoyed a prolific run of success under the leadership of now 4th year head coach Brian Jenkins. Over the past 3 seasons, the Jenkins led Wildcats have accumulated the highest winning percentage of all Division I (FBS and FCS) football programs in the state of Florida; BCU has earned 2 MEAC titles during that span; and they are currently riding a 14 game conference winning streak.
14 starters return to the offensive and defensive units (7 on each side) this season. Among those returning are 2013 MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Jarkevis Fields (linebacker), and 2013 MEAC Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Isidore Jackson (running back). The Beach Cats led the conference in Total Offense (387.9 yards per game) and ranked 7th Nationally in Total Defense (301.4 yards per game) a season ago.
In less than 30 days, the Wildcats will carry their talented squad and extremely high expectations into Nashville to square off against fellow Top 25 foe Tennessee State.
Here are 5 key storylines to watch throughout Fall Camp as BCU continues its pursuit of becoming one of the nation’s premier FCS programs.
How Well/Quickly Will the Offensive Line Gel?
BCU suffered its greatest attrition from a season ago along the offensive line. All-MEAC first teamer Alex Monroe and capable starter Rashard Brown will look to anchor the unit. Brian Dorsey, Michael Jones, and Josue Joseph are all highly talented players who have played quality minutes at the collegiate level. The trio will have first dibs at claiming the 3 vacant starting roles along the offensive front this season.
The Wildcats signed 6 quality offensive linemen on signing day including 2 JUCO transfers; and if history is any indicator, coach Jenkins’ has one or two transfer offensive linemen walking around campus whose identities will remain concealed until kickoff draws near.
There is no shortage of talent or bodies at this position. The question is will this group gel quickly enough and well enough to help BCU lead the MEAC in Total Offense for a 4th consecutive year?
Will the Passing Game Progress in 2013?
The overall success of this year’s team may very well come down to how effective the Wildcats will be in the passing game. The Beach Cats passed for a pedestrian 147 yards per game and only eclipsed the 200 yard passing mark in one contest last season.
Top pass catching target Eddie Poole returns for another year as does big play potential receivers Preston Cleckley and Jhomo Gordon. CFPA Awards Watch transfer tight end Justin Henderson is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and provides the Wildcats with another quality pass catching option.
Jackie Wilson, Quentin Williams, and Brodrick Waters are in their 4th, 3rd, and 2nd year respectively in this offense. Brian Jenkins has repeatedly stated that all three quarterbacks are capable of leading the Wildcat offense, but if BCU is to truly take that next step, at least one of the aforementioned signal callers will need to elevate the passing game into a more lethal component of the BCU attack.
Who Will Emerge as the Team Leaders?
Coaches lay the foundation and parameters of a successful program, but players lead players. BCU received a great deal of on the field and emotional leadership from players like D.J. Howard, Eugene Solomon and Dawud Lane last season. All three have moved on and a new crop of vocal, performance and emotional leaders must now emerge.
Speaking about leadership only excites coaches, but it is as critical to a team success as 1,000 yard rushers and All-American quarterbacks.
What Newcomer Will Have the Greatest Impact?
Justin Henderson has yet to play an official down for the Maroon and Gold, yet the transfer from the University of Memphis has already been named to the CFPA Awards Watch list for tight ends. Henderson enjoyed a highly productive spring campaign and will look to provide BCU quarterbacks with a security blanket and matchup advantage in the passing game this coming fall. On the defensive side of the ball, University of Miami transfer Thomas Finnie will likely compete for one of the starting cornerback spots and help bolster a defensive backfield which led the country in takeaways last season.
Returning players Anthony Jordan (RB) and Erik Williams (DL) possess all-conference level talent and will surely be highly impactful this season if they can overcome the injury bug.
How Well Will the Team Handle Expectations?
Bethune-Cookman received 16 of the 21 first place votes casted in the MEAC’s annual preseason poll. The Wildcats are coming off a perfect 8-0 mark in conference in 2012. Brian Jenkins’ squad is sure to get every team’s best effort in the 2013 campaign. If the Wildcats wish to defend The Belt, they must stay emotionally and physically engaged for 12 weeks next season.
Bethune-Cookman travels to Nashville on Sunday, September 1st for a 7:00 P.M. kickoff against Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic. The Wildcats are 3-0 in season openers under the leadership of head coach Brian Jenkins.