MEAC FOOTBALL WEEK EIGHT: The Final Word
Bethune-Cookman delivers Norfolk State its first conference defeat; Howard stuns A&T in overtime; Rattlers snap losing skid to SCSU;
NCCU takes Hampton to OT
Alvin Hollins Jr.
By ALVIN HOLLINS JR.
Oct. 22 – Two overtime games and a three-point upset by a road team in regulation shook and pressed the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football standings with four weeks left.
Two teams – Norfolk State and North Carolina A&T – came into the weekend undefeated in league play, but by mid-afternoon, both clubs had suffered setbacks which took them down a peg, while bringing the pack in the MEAC much closer, setting up an intriguing final four weeks of play.
Norfolk State (6-2, 4-1 in MEAC) dropped to second place with their 14-6 loss to Bethune-Cookman (4-3, 2-2) Thursday night, but that battlefield demotion lasted all of 48 hours, as North Carolina A&T (4-3, 3-1) fell in overtime to Howard University (4-4, 3-2), 35-28 in Washington, D.C. Saturday, allowing the Spartans to reclaim the league’s pole position.
Meanwhile, Florida A&M (5-3, 3-2) ended an eight-game losing streak to South Carolina State (4-4, 3-2), 27-24, in Orangeburg, icing the game with a gutsy fourth-down fake punt, which allowed the Rattlers to retain possession with just over a minute left to run out the clock.
In Saturday’s final game, Hampton University (4-3, 2-2) needed overtime to subdue pesky North Carolina Central (1-6, 0-4), 30-27 at Hampton, after finishing regulation tied 24-24.
Thursday Night’s Game
Defending MEAC Football co-champion Bethune-Cookman turned in a stellar defensive performance Thursday night, briefly bouncing Norfolk State out of the league lead with a 14-6 at Dick Price Stadium in a nationally-televised contest.
The win kept Bethune-Cookman (4-3, 2-2 in MEAC) in the conference title chase, while Norfolk State (6-2, 4-1) saw its’ five-game win streak end, briefly swapping spots with North Carolina A&T.
Next Week’s Schedule At A Glance
This weekend’s four-game slate has now set the table for October’s final week, which features five games, headlined by a 1-2 matchup when North Carolina A&T invades Norfolk State (2:00).
Second place Morgan State (4-3, 3-1) will be on the road at cellar dweller Delaware State (1-6, 0-4) at 1:00; South Carolina State (4-4, 3-2) visits resurgent Howard University (4-4, 3-2) at 1:00; Bethune-Cookman (4-3, 2-2) is at North Carolina Central (1-6, 0-4) at 2:00; Hampton (4-3, 2-2) visits Savannah State (1-6, 1-3) at 2:00.
Florida A&M will have a bye next weekend.
The Chase For The MEAC: Update
After Saturday’s action, Norfolk State (6-2, 4-1) moved back to first place; North Carolina A&T (4-3, 3-1) is now tied for second with idle Morgan State (4-3, 3-1).
After that, there is a three-way tie for fourth involving Florida A&M (5-3, 3-2), South Carolina State (4-4, 3-2) and Howard University (4-4, 3-2), followed by Bethune-Cookman (4-3, 2-2) and Hampton (4-3, 2-2) tied for seventh, with Savannah State (1-6, 1-3), North Carolina Central (1-6, 0-4) and Delaware State (2-5, 0-4) rounding out the standings.
2011 MEAC Football Remaining Conference Games
NORFOLK STATE (6-2, 4-1): A&T, 10-29; @SAV, 11-5; MORG, 11-12.
#Despite their 14-6 loss to Bethune-Cookman last Thursday, Norfolk may be in the best position to win their first-ever MEAC football title if they can sweep their final three games, including two at home against lead contenders A&T and Morgan.
NORTH CAROLINA A&T (4-3, 3-1): @NORF, 10-29; @FAMU, 11-5; @SCSU, 11-12; NCCU, 11-19.
#The resurgent Aggies enjoyed a 48-hour stay in first place in the MEAC, before falling in overtime to fellow comeback player of the year, Howard on Saturday, in the first leg of their feared four-game road stretch which features stops at Norfolk, FAMU and SCSU.
MORGAN STATE (4-3, 3-1): @DSU, 10-29; @B-CU, 11-5; NORF, 11-12; @HAM, 11-19.
#Considered a darkhorse contender with no SCSU or FAMU on their schedule, the Bears could have a November to remember though, as they close against B-CU, Norfolk and Hampton, after next week’s game at Delaware State.
S.C. STATE (4-4, 3-2): @HOW, 10-29); A&T, 11-12; @SAV, 11-19.
The Bulldogs have a tough row to hoe along with their fellow defending co-champions following their 27-24 home loss to Florida A&M… SCSU must try to stay in the title conversation now with their next two games against the league’s two resurgent programs: Howard and North Carolina A&T next on the docket..
FLORIDA A&M (5-3, 3-2): A&T, 11-5; @NCCU, 11-12; B-CU, 11-19. The defending co-champs ended an eight-game losing streak to SCSU, surging past the Bulldogs, 27-24 to remain alive in this cast of thousands in the MEAC title chase. The Rattlers get a much-needed bye Oct. 29, to rest and watch how the league will shake out after a full five-game conference weekend… FAMU closes against A&T, NCCU and B-CU.
HOWARD UNIVERSITY (4-4, 3-2): SCSU, 10-29; @HAM, 11-5; @DSU, 11-19.
#The upstart Bison continued their resurgence Saturday with 35-28 overtime win over longtime rival North Carolina A&T, keeping them in the MEAC title conversation, with their final three games, featuring SCSU, Hampton and DelState.
BETHUNE-COOKMAN (4-3, 2-2): @NCCU, 10-29; MORG, 11-5; SAV, 11-12; FAMU, 11-19.
#The other co-champ holding on for dear life is B-CU, which breathed a bit of life into their faint title hopes with Thursday’s 14-6 win at Norfolk State, which helped further tighten the standings… B-CU travels to North Carolina Central, opening a four-game closing stretch that includes November bouts against Morgan, Savannah and FAMU.
HAMPTON (4-3, 2-2): @SAV, 10-29; HOW, 11-5; DSU, 11-12; MORG, 11-19.
#The Pirates needed overtime to eke out a 30-27 win over North Carolina Central, keeping themselves in a pack of five two-loss teams… Their closing games feature a road game at Savannah State and their final three games in Armstrong Stadium, giving them a chance at an upper division finish.
SAVANNAH STATE (1-6, 1-3): HAM, 10-29; NORF, 11-5; @B-CU, 11-12; SCSU, 11-19.
#The first year Tigers are completely out of the hunt as they face a dastardly closing stretch of games with Hampton, Norfolk, B-CU and SCSU all in a row. Bon appetit Tigers.
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL (1-6, 0-4): B-CU, 10-29; @DSU, 11-5; FAMU, 11-12; @A&T, 11-19.
#The other MEAC newcomer has a dropped a 30-27 overtime heartbreaker at Hampton Saturday, showing signs of being a tough out down the stretch… Their closing stretch features co-champs B-CU and FAMU, and the Aggie-Eagle Classic against North Carolina A&T.
DELAWARE STATE (2-5, 0-4): MORG, 10-29; NCCU, 11-5; @HAM, 11-12; HOW, 11-19.#The slip sliding Hornets won’t ease into the offseason with their remaining games that feature contenders A&T, Morgan and Hampton… Still, should they muster a right cross and an upper cut or two, they could spoil the day for a couple of teams down the stretch.
Week 8 Games (Oct. 20-22)
Thursday, October 20
*Bethune-Cookman 14, Norfolk State 6
Saturday, October 22
*Howard University 35, North Carolina A&T 28/OT
*Florida A&M 27, South Carolina State 24
*Hampton 30, North Carolina Central 27/OT
BYES: Delaware State, Morgan State, Savannah State
Week 9 Games (Oct. 29)
*Morgan State at Delaware State, 1:00
*South Carolina State at Howard, 1:00
*Bethune-Cookman at North Carolina Central, 2:00
* North Carolina A&T at Norfolk State, 2:00
*Hampton at Savannah State, 2:00
BYE: Florida A&M