BCU Recap vs Miami – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It is rare for a diehard college football fan to watch their favorite team lose by 57 points and still walk away feeling hopeful about the season. Yet here we are, feeling surprisingly optimistic after witnessing “The U” dismantle Bethune-Cookman 70-13 this past Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. Perhaps some of that optimism is aided by the fact that Bethune’s two biggest rivals, FAMU and SCSU, also took woodshed beatings this weekend. Or maybe I just added that shade about FAMU and SCSU because I was being petty and misery loves company.

Credits – State of The U

Either way, here is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from this past weekend’s contest against “The U”!

Let’s start with the Ugly!

Money Game$. They are just an ugly but necessary reality of the college football universe. We understand why Money Game$ are scheduled. They provide an extra home game and the revenue that comes along with it for the FBS guys while the FCS guys collect a handsome paycheck and have the opportunity to showcase themselves against the big boys. Sometimes the FCS guys collect the paycheck and collect the win as was the case for BCU against FIU in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately for our Wildcats, the only win they returned to Daytona Beach with this time around was the payday and the anecdotal projections about the remainder of the season.

The Hurricane offensive line was everything you would expect from a Mario Cristobal coached team. They were aggressive, disciplined and frankly too much to handle for the BCU front seven. Miami’s dominance at the line of scrimmage resulted in the Canes scoring touchdowns on every offensive possession save one which ended in a fumble and a second that ran out the clock to end the contest. 

The Bad

The Wildcat kickoff coverage unit has to be better. Miami’s offense started two drives in plus territory and one near midfield after Key’Shawn Smith returned three BCU kickoffs 70 yards, 42 yards and 66 yards respectively. You simply cannot put your defense in that type of predicament against good competition and expect to win. 

It was Isaiah Bolden’s 94 yard kick return touchdown to begin the second half that sealed BCU’s fate against Jackson State last year. The return team will either need to cover kicks better, kick the ball out of the endzone or kick it out of bounds. 

Speaking of special teams miscues, the Wildcats had a short field goal attempt blocked as well. The better news is we are only in week one and special teams miscues typically diminish as the season rolls along.

The Good

Bethune- Cookman’s offense left us with many reasons to be optimistic.

Jalon Jones looked good under center. Jones, a former four-star recruit and University of Florida signee, earned the starting nod at quarterback. At day’s end, Jones racked up 243 yards passing, 15 rushing yards and tossed a 34 yard TD to Que’shaun Byrd. The Virginia native looked in command of the offense and did a good job of keeping plays alive with his feet. 

BCU finished the contest with 342 yards of total offense. That’s not too bad. Perhaps more impressively, the Wildcat offense collected seven explosive plays of 20 yards or more. Marcus Riley flashed with the first big play, racking up 24 yards on a catch and run on 3rd down and 23 early in the first quarter. Riley, also a former four-star recruit, looked like he belonged on the field against the 16th ranked Hurricanes. We are hoping to see the ball in his hands more as the season progresses.

Dylaan Lee led Bethune in receiving yards and catches hauling in 5 receptions for 83 yards. Darryl Powell got his name on the stat sheet pulling in two grabs one of which was a 48 yarder from Jones.

Offensive Coordinator, Mike Canels, did a good job with the offensive scheme,and had the Cats executed better on two or three more plays, they could have put up even more points offensively.

The best news for Bethune is that there are no more FBS teams on the schedule. All of their goals are still in front of them. Former MEAC foe South Carolina State visits “Da Beach” this Saturday. The Bulldogs are the reigning Black College National Champions and are also looking to rebound after a one sided loss at the hands of a FBS opponent. UCF handed SCSU a 56-10 drubbing on Thursday night.

Please come out and support the good guys this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00pm at Daytona Stadium.

A Q&A With Wildcats Star Tight End Kemari Averett – Bethune-Cookman University Athletics

Senior tight end Kemari Averett enters the season with a lot of hype – a preseason All American that’s considered one of the best tight ends in not just the Southwestern
— Read on bcuathletics.com/news/2022/9/2/football-a-q-a-with-wildcat-star-tight-end-kemari-averett.aspx

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