All Hail to the 2021 All SWAC Performers

Congratulations to the four Wildcats named to the 2021 All SWAC Team. Tight End Kemari Averette, linebacker Untareo Johnson, and cornerback Omari Hill-Robinson all received first team honors while return specialist Darnell Deas received second team honors.

Alabama A&M’s Aqeel Glass was selected Offensive Player of the Year while Florida A&M’s Isaiah Land was tabbed Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson State’s James Houston was named Newcomer of the Year. Jackson State’s Shedeur Sander was selected for Freshman of the Year accolades while JSU’s Deion Sanders was tabbed Coach of the Year to round out the list of individual award winners.

2021 SWAC Football Postseason Awards

Offensive Player of the Year
Aqeel Glass- Alabama A&M

Defensive Player of the Year
Isaiah Land- Florida A&M

Newcomer of the Year
James Houston- Jackson State

Freshman of the Year
Shedeur Sanders- Jackson State

Coach of the Year
Deion Sanders- Jackson State

All-SWAC First Team Offense
Quarterback: Aqeel Glass- Alabama A&M
Running Back: Bishop Bonnett- Florida A&M
Running Back: Gary Quarles- Alabama A&M
Offensive Lineman: Keenan Forbes- Florida A&M
Offensive Lineman: Dallas Black- Southern
Offensive Lineman: Mark Evans II- Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Offensive Lineman: Johnathan Bishop- Southern
Offensive Lineman: Drake Centers- Texas Southern
Wide Receiver: Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim- Alabama A&M
Wide Receiver: Odieu Hilaire- Alabama A&M
Tight End: Kemari Averett- Bethune-Cookman

All-SWAC First Team Defense
Defensive Lineman: James Houston- Jackson State
Defensive Lineman: Jason Dumas- Prairie View A&M
Defensive Lineman: Sundiata Anderson- Grambling State
Defensive Lineman: Antwan Owens- Jackson State
Linebacker: Isaiah Land- Florida A&M
Linebacker: Untareo Johnson- Bethune-Cookman
Linebacker: Aubrey Miller- Jackson State
Defensive Back: Markquese Bell- Florida A&M
Defensive Back: Drake Cheatum- Prairie View A&M
Defensive Back: BJ Bohler- Florida A&M
Defensive Back: Omari Hill-Robinson- Bethune-Cookman

All-SWAC First Team Specialist
Place Kicker: Jose Romo-Martinez- Florida A&M
Punter: Josh Sanchez- Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Return Specialist: Isaiah Bolden- Jackson State

All-SWAC Second Team Offense
Quarterback: Shedeur Sanders- Jackson State
Running Back: Caleb Johnson- Mississippi Valley State
Running Back: Niko Duffey- Alcorn State
Offensive Lineman: Tony Gray- Jackson State
Offensive Lineman: Ja’Tyre Carter- Southern
Offensive Lineman: Danny Garza- Prairie View A&M
Offensive Lineman: Jay Jackson-Williams- Florida A&M
Offensive Lineman: Robert Alston- Alabama State
Wide Receiver: Keith Corbin- Jackson State
Wide Receiver: Dee Anderson- Alabama A&M
Tight End: Jyrin Johnson- Texas Southern

All-SWAC Second Team Defense
Defensive Lineman: Ronnie Thomas- Mississippi Valley State
Defensive Lineman: Savion Williams- Florida A&M
Defensive Lineman: Michael Badejo- Texas Southern
Defensive Lineman: Deonte Williams- Florida A&M
Linebacker: Monroe Beard III- Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Linebacker: Keonte Hampton- Jackson State
Linebacker: Tarik Cooper- Texas Southern
Defensive Back: Irshaad Davis- Alabama State
Defensive Back: Keonte’ Daniels- Mississippi Valley State
Defensive Back: Darius Campbell- Prairie View A&M
Defensive Back: Shilo Sanders- Jackson State

All-SWAC Second Team Specialist
Place Kicker: Garrett Urban- Grambling State
Punter: Garrett Urban- Grambling State
Return Specialist: Darnell Deas- Bethune-Cookman

Miscues Cost Wildcats in 35-29 loss to PVAMU

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats exited Saturday’s contest against Prairie View A&M with more total yards of offense (498-422), more first downs (27-14), and a 110 more rushing yards (242-132) than their Texas foes. But despite their advantages in these key statistical categories, BCU exited Saturday’s contest with their 7th defeat of the season.

“You can’t say the guys didn’t play hard, but when you give up 28 points on mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams you’re not going to win football games that way” head coach Terry Sims said after the contest.

The Wildcats first costly mistake occurred on their second possession of the contest with the game still knotted at 0. Drake Cheatum picked off a Shannon Patrick pass to give PVAMU possession on their own 37 yardline. Trejon Spiller hauled in a 63 yard strike from Jawan Pass on the next play to open the game’s scoring. 

Kamari Averette capped a 7 play 60 yard drive with a 26 yard touchdown reception from Devin Black early in the 2nd quarter. A successful two point conversion attempt gave BCU its only lead of the game at 8-7 but it did not last long. Prairie View regained control of the game after Pass hit his second long touchdown throw of the contest. This one from 59 yards out and landing in the hands of Jailon Howard with just under 2 minutes remaining in the half. 

Bethune drove the ball 73 yards on the final possession of the first half but the drive stalled out on downs on Prairie View’s 2 yardline. On the opposite side of halftime, BCU again drove the ball inside Prairie View’s 20 yardline before coming up empty again. A holding call negated what would have been a BCU go ahead touchdown. Three plays later, Bryce Turner returned a blocked field goal 71 yards to push PVAMU ahead 21-8. 

Jimmie Robinson’s 8 yard TD run cut the lead to one possession but another mistake haunted the Cats. An attempted screen pass ricocheted off a Wildcat receiver and into the hands of Drake Cheatum for his second pick of the game. Cheatum returned the INT 62 yards for a score.

The Wildcats went on to score 14 more points in the 4th quarter but it wasn’t enough to garner BCU their first win of the season.

Queshaun Byrd ended the day with 176 yards rushing on 24 carries. It was Byrd’s 3rd 100 yard rushing game of the season. Kamari Averette collected his 3rd 100 yard receiving game and ended the day with 6 grabs and 115 yards through the air. 

Terry Sims and the Wildcats will attempt to right the ship next week when they take on Jackson State in Mississippi’s state capital.

Team Statistics

Game StatsPVABCU
Total Yards422498
Pass Yards290256
Rushing Yards132242
Penalty Yards6-557-50
1st Downs1427
3rd Downs3-103-12
4th Downs0-01-2
TOP25:2634:34

Unsweet Home Alabama

Credits: Montgomery Advertiser

One week after losing its first home SWAC contest against Alabama A&M, Bethune-Cookman suffered its first SWAC road defeat to another school from “The Yellowhammer State.” Alabama State handed BCU a resounding 38-24 defeat in a game that was not as close as the two touchdown margin might suggest.

The Hornets outgained Bethune on the ground (111 yards – 12 yards). They threw for more yards in the air (267- 247). They caused more turnovers (4-3), executed better, coached better, sang the school fight song better; you name it and the Hornets did it better on Saturday night. This was a comprehensive butt-kicking that left the Wildcat fans in attendance with more questions than answers.

Alabama State never trailed in Saturday’s contest. Freshman quarterback Ryan Nettles led the Hornets to touchdowns on four of ASU’s first five possessions. The Wildcats received the kickoff to start the 3rd quarter looking to cut into the 28-17 halftime deficit. But a quick 3 and out by the Wildcats followed by a 13 play, 65 yard touchdown drive on the Hornets ensuring possession put the game out of reach. 

Kemari Averett paced BCU with 140 yards receiving on 9 catches offensively while Tekeven Thomas from nearby Troy, Alabama performed well in front of friends and family defensively. Thomas registered 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 9 total tackles. 

Bend but don’t break is broken

Coach Terry Sims has long subscribed to a “bend but don’t break defensive philosophy.” The problem for Bethune-Cookman is that philosophy has been bent out of shape and all broken into pieces through the first third of the season. The “bend but don’t break” approach tends to work out well when you can play with a lead, get off the field by forcing punts and turnovers, and when you can limit your opponents to field goal attempts. However, BCU’s defense ranks 9th in the conference in 3rd down conversion percentage, 10th in points per game, 11th in yards surrendered and dead last in red zone defense. Opponents have made 25 trips inside BCU’s 20 yardline and have scored on 24 of those 25 red zone possessions. ASU converted all 6 of their red zone tries against Cookman on Saturday; 5 of those being touchdowns. The Wildcats can no longer bend and break. They will need to pick their poison or try something different altogether ‘cause this ain’t working.’ 

They can’t be right, right?

The entire season ain’t working up to this point to tell the truth. Honest BCU fans had no idea what to expect from this team when the season began. The Wildcats entered the season having played no football in 2020 and losing their statistical leaders in every major category from the 2019 season. Even still, you could hear the Wildcat fans laughing in derision when SWAC head coaches and sports information directors predicted BCU to finish 5th in the Eastern Division in the preseason. There was no way our beloved Wildcats could be a bottom half SWAC team right? RIGHT? After all, 2006 was the last time BCU fell to a SWAC opponent. They had since rattled off 8 straight victories over SWAC foes. It just didn’t make sense that the Fighting Wildcats were being so disrespected by our SWAC brethren. Yet here we stand four games into the season and still searching for victory number one. 

Maybe the lack of a 2020 Spring season is impacting this team more than anticipated. Maybe starting the year on the road and losing to two FBS teams is having more of an effect on the good guys’ psyche than we appreciated. Maybe the fact that both Alabama A&M and Alabama State had a bye week prior to facing BCU played a role in what we are seeing. Or perhaps it is as simple as this is not a good football team right now. We can deliberate all of the reasons why the Cats have not so much as held a lead at any point in the season let alone win a game but excuses will not cut it. This team needs more answers than explanations right now. The coaches have come up with a better approach and make adjustments more quickly. Players have to execute better or they will run the risk of allowing the entire season to get away from them. The margin for error is razor thin at this point but there is still time to salvage a productive season out of all of this.  

The guys in maroon and gold will look to collect their first check mark in the win column when they face old MEAC rival South Carolina State in Orangeburg this Saturday. The Bulldogs are also looking for their first win of the season so there will be a lot on the line when the Dogs and Cats get together.  Kickoff is slated for 1:30pm. You are invited to travel with us to Orangeburg to support our guys. More information about this and all away game trips is available at LetsGoWildcats.org

Wildcats fall to defending SWAC champions Alabama A&M, 30-27

DAYTONA, FL—Head coach Terry Sims and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats opened their inaugural season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference against the defending champion Alabama A&M University Bulldogs in search of their first win of the season. Unfortunately, untimely penalties and a failure to get stops on the defensive end in key moments of the game caused the Wildcats to suffer their third loss of the season in as many games 30-27 at Daytona Stadium at Larry Kelly Field.

Sims was particularly perturbed by the number of penalties the Wildcats amassed in the game (14-144), many of which allowed Alabama A&M to sustain scoring drives.

“Way too many penalties in the first half, Sims said. It was something we talked about all week that couldn’t happen. I think we had over 100 yards of penalties in the first half (12-124) and you’re not going to win football games that way.”

Coming into the game, both teams had a healthy respect for each other’s offenses and those units did not disappoint. Preseason SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Aqeel Glass paced the Bulldogs with 243 yards of total offense (234 passing) and two touchdown passes, while Wildcat senior quarterback Shannon Patrick went 17-31 for 221 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Leading the ground game for the Wildcats was Que’Shaun Byrd rushing for 132 yards and two scores on 21 carries, while AAMU’s Gary Quarles broke the century mark with 101 yards on 27 carries and a score.

Bulldogs treated to Pre-Game Florida Monsoon

The beginning of the game was marred by classic Florida inclement weather. A torrential downpour less than a half hour before kickoff and the presence of lightning strikes in the area forced the game to be delayed by 30 minutes. Once the game was underway, the “electric” play of both Glass and the Bulldog offense was immediately on display.

Alabama A&M got on the board first after a Wildcat miscue. Following a Patrick interception by AAMU safety Trenell Troutman, six plays later, Glass found receiver Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim on a quarterback rollout for an eight-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead over the Wildcats with 8:34 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs would then add two additional field goals (one in the first and another in the second) by Spencer Corey after scoring drives of 65 yards and 59 yards respectively to increase the AAMU lead to 13-0 with 12:18 remaining in the first half.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats would finally get on the board as sophomore defensive back Darnell Deas caught the ball at the BCU 11-yard line and took the kickoff 89 yards for the first Wildcat touchdown of the evening. The successful PAT attempt cut the Bulldog deficit to 13-7 with 12:04 remaining in the first half.

AAMU immediately came back and engineered a nine play, 64-yard drive, capped by a three-yard touchdown scamper by Quarles to extend the Wildcat deficit to 20-7 with 8:20 remaining in the first half.

The Cats were able to find paydirt again via Byrd as he took a delayed handoff and rushed 14 yards for the second Wildcat score of the half, capping a seven play, 52-yard drive to cut the deficit to 20-13 with 3:04 remaining before halftime after a failed PAT attempt by Dylan Moghaddam.

AAMU head coach Connell Maynor and the Bulldogs would then employ their two-minute offense, largely behind the arm of Glass and finished a 10 play, 65-yard drive with a 12 yard touchdown strike to Ibrahim in the back of the end zone where he was able to toe-tap his way to his second score of the game to give the Bulldogs a commanding 27-13 lead heading into the locker room.

In the third quarter, Byrd would get his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard rush to bring the Cats to within 27-21 after a successful two-point conversion by Patrick and in the fourth both teams traded scores, with Corey notching his third FG of the night to extend the Bulldog lead to 30-21.

Late in the fourth quarter the Cats were finally treated to a Kemari Averett sighting. The senior tight end was largely responsible for BCU’s final touchdown, snagging a 42 yard pass up the seam and capping the six play, 60-yard drive with a seven-yard reception from Patrick to bring the Cats within 30-27 with 8:50 remaining. For the game, Averett led all Wildcat receivers with 64 yards on three receptions and a score.

The Atlanta, GA native, after impressive showings at UTEP and Central Florida, notched his third great outing of the season (11 receptions, 169 yards 2TD’s) something not lost on his head coach as Sims was effusive with praise of his 6’6 tight end, regarding the fact that his size and speed presents huge matchup problems for opposing defenses.

“He means so much to our team. We have two tight ends that are matchup problems for a lot of people. And we have to use him more and that’ll open things up for Byrd and some of our other receivers, so we have to get back to the drawing board get some more things done to get him targeted more.”

Head Scratching PAT Attempt

On the PAT attempt, the Cats failed an attempted two-point conversion, much to the surprise of the fans and supporters of B-CU as well as the AAMU special teams unit considering they were only down three points with a chance to inch closer to a deficit of two, something Sims said was simply a miscommunication.

“I’m never one to blame anything on players, but we were supposed to kick the ball, Sims said. The holder and the kicker got the signals mixed up and they thought we were going for it, but we were supposed to line up and kick the extra point at that time. It was simply a miscommunication.”

What’s Up Next?

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 2-0 overall (1-0 SWAC East) and will host Division II in-state rival Tuskegee in the friendly confines of Lewis Crews Stadium next weekend. Game time is set for 5pm CST.

With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 0-3 overall (0-1 SWAC East) and will travel to Montgomery, AL to take on Alabama State on September 25th at ASU Stadium. Game time is set for 6pm EST.