(Baseball) Wildcats look to remain atop MEAC standings

Jackie Robinson Stadium

Jackie Robinson Stadium

Daytona Beach – A quick glance at the MEAC’s Southern division standings reflects Bethune-Cookman in a familiar position atop the table.  However, a closer look at the standings reveals a more telling story.  Two games in the loss column is all that separates first place BCU from 4th place North Carolina A&T.  Savannah State is a game better than the Wildcats in the conference loss column (but the Tigers have a lower winning percentage against conference foes) and North Carolina Central is just a single game behind the Cats.

Jason Beverlin’s squad will look to cushion their lead and maintain their stranglehold on the conference when they take on North Carolina Central in a three-game set beginning today at 1:00 PM at Historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Daytona Beach’s City Island.

BCU (20-17, 10-5 MEAC) has won a season high six consecutive games with five of those victories occurring on the road.  Anthony Stokes has paced the Wildcats offensively over the winning streak logging three home runs and 11 RBIs during the run.

The Wildcats defeated Jacksonville University 5-3 in their last outing (on Tuesday, April 9th).  David Lee recorded three RBIs in the win for the Cats.

NCCU (21-15, 9-6 MEAC), who enters the weekend just a game behind the Wildcats in the MEAC’s Southern Division, are 1-2 against BCU this season and 2-6 against the Wildcats since re-joining the MEAC.  NCCU dropped 2 of 3 games against rival NCA&T last weekend.

The pitching matchups are slated as follows:

Game One:  NCCU’s Junior righty Terry McNabb  vs. B-CU righty Scott Garner (3-4, 5.33 ERA)   Garner is coming off a complete game, 4-1 victory over Florida A&M in his last outing.

Game Two (doubleheader 7 inning contest):  righty Glenn Frye (3-3) against BCU lefty Ali Simpson (3-4, 5.77 ERA).  Simpson also pitched solidly in his last outing allowing no runs in seven innings of work against FAMU.  BCU won that contest 4-0.

Game Three (Sunday): Michael Romano (2-5, 5.43 ERA) vs. BCU right hander Montana Durapau (5-3, 4.07 ERA).  Durapau earned his 5th win of the year in his last outing against cross-county rival Stetson.

Live Stats will be available from the link.  Also, NCCU will provide live audio coverage of this weekend’s matchups on the  NCCU Sports Network .

FCS Playoff Picture

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats are MEAC Champions for the second time in three years.  But unlike 2010 when the Wildcats joined South Carolina State and Florida A&M as league co-champions, the 2012 crown will not be shared.  This year’s Championship is the Cats’ first outright title since 2002.

BCU now owns 5 MEAC crowns and 11 conference championships all-time. (The Wildcats won 6 SIAC titles before joining the MEAC in 1979.) 

Possible 1st round matchups

Here is what we know: the Wildcats are headed to the 2012 FCS playoffs; and Bethune-Cookman has submitted a bid to host a first round game.  Who BCU faces and whether or not the Cats will be awarded a home game are still anyone’s guess.  The mystery will be revealed next Sunday morning when the field of 20 is announced.  We should probably refrain from speculating on who the Wildcats will face and just allow things the sort themselves out but that would be no fun. 

So let’s take a look at the most probable first round matchups based on what we know today.

Keep in mind that 12 playoff bound teams receive a first round bye; the FCS playoff committee ranks the top 5 seeds; and  teams are matched based on things such as geographic proximity.  With that in mind, the Cats are not expected to receive a first round bye and will very likely face one of the following teams in the opening round.

Wofford (Spartanburg, SC) is looking like a very probable matchup for BCU.  The Terriers, along with Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, are co-champions of the Southern Conference.  All three teams appear to be locks to make the field of 20.  In fact, Appalachian State (Boone, NC) could also be a potential first round foe.  The Wildcats will certainly have to hit the road if matched against App State as the Mountaineers almost always host their first game of the playoffs.

Coastal Carolina (Conway, SC) will likely end the season tied for first place in the Big South with Liberty and Stony Brook.  The Chanticleers will receive the conference’s automatic bid if the three teams finish the season tied for first.  Interestingly, Coastal and Bethune played one common opponent this year (North Carolina A&T) and the margin of victory was the same for both (+16 points).

Stony Brook entered the weekend ranked 6th in the Sports Network FCS poll but suffered a defeat to conference foe Liberty.  If (and that’s a big if) Stony Brook receives an at-large berth, they could very well be matched against BCU in the first round.

This week’s Tennessee State/UT-Martin (Ohio Valley) matchup is an unofficial playoff game for both teams.  The loser is definitely out of the mix.   The winner, however, could secure one of the final at-large slots and may be pitted against the Wildcats on Thanksgiving weekend.

Colonial Athletic teams James Madison, Towson, Villanova, and Richmond are all sitting on the proverbial playoff bubble and either of whom could be matched against Brian Jenkins’ squad in the opening round. 

Thank goodness we will not have to speculate much longer.  Post season play begins in less than two weeks but first things first.

The Wildcats tangle with arch-rival FAMU in Saturday’s Florida Blue Florida Classic in Orlando.  BCU will look to complete their first ever undefeated MEAC season in the regular season finale.  Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

Week 11 MEAC Review

MEAC SATURDAY FOOTBALL WEEKENDER
Bethune-Cookman clinches MEAC title; Rattlers edge NCCU under new coach; Delaware State, Norfolk, A&T all win Saturday
 

Alvin Hollins Jr.

By ALVIN HOLLINS JR.
Rockstat7376@aol.com

NOVEMBER 10 – The Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats won their second Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title in three years Saturday, with a crushing road victory at Savannah State, dashing the remaining co-championship hopes of several teams.

The Wildcats (7-0, 8-2) locked up the title with a 49-7 win at Savannah State (0-7, 1-9), leaving them just one game shy of a perfect conference record. B-CU has also punched its’ ticket to the NCAA Division FCS playoffs.

Meanwhile, Florida A&M (4-3, 4-6) scored late to edge visiting North Carolina Central (5-2, 6-4), 22-21, winning their first game under interim head coach Earl “Hitman” Holmes at Homecoming in Bragg Stadium.

In other conference action Saturday, Delaware State (5-2, 6-4) pulled into a three-way tie for second with NCCU and Howard University, with a 35-27 win over visiting Hampton (2-5, 2-7) at Dover, Delaware; North Carolina A&T (4-3, 6-4) rallied past visiting South Carolina State (3-4, 4-6), 17-7 at Greensboro, N.C.; Norfolk State (2-6, 4-7) finished their disappointing season after winning the 2011 MEAC title, with a 30-0 whitewash of visiting Morgan State (2-5, 3-7), at Norfolk, Va.

In the lone non-conference affair Saturday, Howard University (5-2, 6-4) was bashed by nationally-ranked Georgia Southern (8-2), 69-26 at Statesboro, Ga.

The New Pecking Order…
Bethune-Cookman (7-0) has locked up the conference title and the automatic NCAA Division I FCS playoff bid…. The race will now be for second as North Carolina Central (5-2), Howard (5-2), and Delaware State (5-2) will go down to next weekend to determine which two of them will finish behind B-CU…

Next Weekend’s Schedule
The final Saturday of the regular season is pretty much Rivalry Weekend, highlighted by Bethune-Cookman against Florida A&M in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Florida Classic in Orlando, to be nationally televised on ESPN Classic at 2:30 p.m.

The remainder of the schedule features Hampton at Morgan State (1:00); Delaware State at Howard (1:00); Savannah State at South Carolina State (1:30); and North Carolina A&T at North Carolina Central (2:00).

MEAC Random Shots
@ Bethune-Cookman (7-0) hopes to complete a perfect conference season next week against rival FAMU, which spoiled their hopes of a perfect season in 2010….

@ Two of three teams will finish second behind Bethune-Cookman: Delaware State, Howard and North Carolina Central (5-2)… DelState visits Howard, while NCCU hosts Triad rival North Carolina A&T in the Aggie-Eagle Classic.

@ Wins by Delaware State and North Carolina A&T Saturday clinched winning seasons for both squads, allowing them to join Howard and North Carolina Central in the club of teams who finished under .500 overall a year ago.

@ Bethune-Cookman, along with the quartet of DSU, Howard, A&T and NCCU officially flipped the script in the MEAC, as all five teams are led by coaches in their second or third years, while veteran-led programs like FAMU, Hampton, South Carolina State, Morgan State and Norfolk State suffered a reversal of fortune in 2012.

@ Florida A&M (4-3, 4-6) won its’ first game under interim head coach Earl Holmes, one of the school’s all-time great linebackers, and formerly the defensive coordinator… Holmes was tabbed to replace the 30-year head coaching veteran Joe Taylor on Wednesday of this week, after Taylor was placed on administrative leave… Taylor will still retire following the season with 233 career victories…

MEAC FOOTBALL STANDINGS
Thru Saturday, November 10, 2012

School ……………………….. Conference / Overall
Bethune-Cookman ………………… 7-0 1.000 / 8-2 .800
Delaware State ………..……………. 5-2 .714 / 6-4 .600
Howard University …….…………… 5-2 .714 / 6-4 .600
North Carolina Central …….……. 5-2 .714 / 6-4 .600
^North Carolina A&T ………..…… 4-3 .571 / 6-4 .600
Florida A&M ………..………………… 4-3 .571 / 4-6 .400
South Carolina State .…….……… 3-4 .428 / 4-6 .400
Morgan State ………………………… 2-5 .285 / 3-7 .300
^Hampton …………………………….. 2-5 .285 / 2-7 .222
Norfolk State ………………………… 2-6 .250 / 4-7 .363
Savannah State ………..…………… 0-7 .000 / 1-9 .100
^-Ineligible for 2012 title

Saturday’s Scoreboard
*Delaware State 35, Hampton 27
*Norfolk State 30, Morgan State 0
*North Carolina A&T 17, South Carolina State 7
#Georgia Southern 69, Howard 26
*Florida A&M 22, North Carolina Central 21
*Bethune-Cookman 49, Savannah State 7
(*)-Conference Games

Next Week’s Schedule
*Hampton at Morgan State, 1:00
*Delaware State at Howard, 1:00
*Savannah State at South Carolina State, 1:30
*North Carolina A&T at North Carolina Central, 2:00
*Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida A&M (Orlando), 2:30 (ESPN Classic)
(*)-Conference Games

Jackie Wilson earns MEAC POTW honors

A Wildcat football player has earned MEAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week.  Quarterback Jackie Wilson was selected as this week’s MEAC Offensive Player of the Week.  Also honored this week was Corwin Hammond of Norfolk State (Defensive Player of the Week).

D’Vonte Grant of North Carolina A&T and Tracy Martin of Morgan State was selected as the Co-Rookie’s of the Week while Lawrence Brewer, also of Morgan State, was named the Offensive Lineman of the Week.  Blake Erickson of South Carolina State was selected as the Special Teams Player of the Week, respectively.

Wilson (QB, 6-0, 210, So., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) completed 12 of 15 passes for 183 yards with one touchdown in the Wildcats’ 34-6 win over North Carolina Central. He also carried the ball nine times for 113 yards with another touchdown on the ground. 

Hammond (LB, 6-1, 220, r-Sr., Louisville, Ky.) recorded a season-high 12 tackles, nine solo, in the Spartans’ 14-10 win over North Carolina A&T to remain in first place of the conference standings.  He registered five tackles for a loss of 17 yards including one sack for a nine-yard loss.  He also forced a fumble and broke up a pass in the win.

Grant (LB, 5-11, r-Fr., Charlotte, NC) collected a career-high 17 tackles, 15 solo, in the Aggies loss to Norfolk State.  He tallied 3.5 tackles for a loss of 14 yards and recorded a broken up pass.

Martin (RB, 5-9, 190, r-Fr., Beltsville, Md.) ran for 154 yards on 38 carries with two touchdowns in the Bears’ (12-0) shutout victory over Delaware State. 
Brewer (OL, 6-5, 290, Sr., Ft. Washington, Md.) graded out at 98-percent on his assignments as he paved the way for the Bears to record 314 offensive yards in the win over Delaware State.  He helped the team post 289 yards on the ground and racked up five pancake blocks.

Erickson (PK/P, 5-10, 165, Sr., Cantonment, Fla.) finished a perfect 4-of-4 on PATs and connected on a 22-yard field goal in South Carolina State’s 31-0 win over Howard.  He averaged 38.8 yards on six punts, including a long of 66 yards.  He also handled the kickoff responsibilities, averaging 58.7 yards on six attempts.

Other Top Performer

Jean Fanor (B-CU) posted six tackles, two solo, with one interception and one forced fumble in the Wildcats’ win over North Carolina Central.

Last week’s Contest

The Bethune-Cookman offense racked up 525 yards of Total Offense spoiling the homecoming of 12,516 North Carolina Central fans.  Isidore Jackson and Jackie Wilson both eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark in Saturday’s contest. 

On the opposite side of the ball, the Wildcat defense held the Eagles scoreless until the 13:17 mark in the 4th quarter.  DJ Howard led the Cats with 8 tackles.

The Wildcats are currently playing as well as anyone in the MEAC and will look to continue their impressive late season push in a homecoming matchup against the surprising Morgan State Bears.  Morgan State and Norfolk State are the only remaining 1-loss conference teams.