Bethune-Cookman vs. South Carolina State–The best non-traditional rivalry in HBCU football???

On the huntWhat 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.

Non-Traditional Rivalry

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.”

DSC_0119These Games Matter

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?

Wildcats take on Bison

DSC_0006WASHINGTON, DC — This Saturday’s matchup between Bethune-Cookman (4-1, 1-0 in the MEAC) and Howard University (1-4, 0-2 in the MEAC) pits the MEAC’s top offense against the league’s best defense.

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.
Other notes:

-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.

Courtesy of BCU Athletics

Courtesy of BCU Athletics

Wildcats shake off lackluster start; defeat DSU 21-7

New look helmetsDover- #21 Bethune-Cookman (4-1, 10) shook off a lackluster first half of football and used a balanced offensive attack and 3 defensive interceptions to secure a 21-7 win over Delaware State (1-4, 1-1) in Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Delaware State opened the game’s scoring when Cory Murphy hooked up with Malik Golson for a 7 yard touchdown pass midway through the 1st quarter.

The Wildcats tied the game at 7 on a 3 yard touchdown run by Anthony Jordan.  The 10 play, 75 yard scoring drive was aided by a 30 yard Jackie Wilson to Eddie Poole strike and an Isidore Jackson 4th down conversion on 4th and 4 from the DSU 24.

BCU took the lead for good midway through the 3rd when quarterback Quentin Williams kept the ball on an option read and raced 31 yards off tackle for the score.

Poole hauled in a 15 yard touchdown pass from Williams with 4:40 remaining to seal the contest 21-7 for the Cats. The 15 yard catch and run provided Poole with his first TD reception of the season and it pushed him over the 100 yard receiving mark for the first time this year as well.

Bethune-Cookman finished the afternoon with 409 yards of Total Offense (241 rushing, 168 passing) while holding DSU to 223 yards (only 10 yards rushing).

Defensive backs Dion Hanks and Thomas Finnie finished with 7 tackles apiece while Joshua Richardson, Nick Addison and Erik Williams all registered interceptions.

BCU travels to D.C. to take on the Howard Bison next week at 1:00.

Game stats
BCU at DSU Video Highlights

5 Questions from Fall Camp


DSC_0119The 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.


Wildcats too much for Tigers

For the past two months, coach Brian Jenkins has insisted that the quarterback who practices the best during the week will receive the starting nod on gameday.

Remaining true to his word, Jenkins named David Blackwell as the starting quarterback just minutes before Saturday’s contest against Savannah State.  Blackwell responded by ripping off an 80 yard touchdown run on the Wildcats first offensive play from scrimmage.  He later added two more first half touchdown runs (of 37 yards and 59 yards) as well as two 3rd quarter touchdown passes (46 yarder to Isidore Jackson and 16 yarder to Johnathan Moment).  Blackwell accounted for 350 yards of total offense (203 rushing and 147 passing) in a little over 2 quarters of play.

The Wildcats finished the contest with 625 yards of total offense in route to a 59-3 dismantling of the over-matched Tigers.

Defensively, the Wildcats yielded just 202 yards of total offense and allowed no second half first downs.  Defensive tackle, Harold Love III, led the defensive charge with 12 tackles.

 Team Totals 












   Rushing Attempts 



   Average Per Rush 



   Rushing Touchdowns 

   Yards Gained Rushing 



   Yards Lost Rushing 









   Average Per Attempt 



   Average Per Completion 



   Passing Touchdowns 




   Total offense plays 



   Average Gain Per Play 



Fumbles: Number-Lost 



Penalties: Number-Yards 






   Average Yards Per Punt 



   Net Yards Per Punt 



   Inside 20 

   50+ Yards 


   Fair catch 




   Average Yards Per Kickoff 



   Net Yards Per Kickoff 




Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 



   Average Per Return 



Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 



   Average Per Return 



Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 



Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 



Miscellaneous Yards 

Possession Time 



   1st Quarter 



   2nd Quarter 



   3rd Quarter 



   4th Quarter 



Third-Down Conversions 

3 of 16 

5 of 9 

Fourth-Down Conversions 

0 of 2 

0 of 1 

Red-Zone Scores-Chances 






   Field goals 



Sacks By: Number-Yards 



PAT Kicks 



Field Goals 





Beatdown in Aggie-Town

Photo provided by Blue Death

It has been more than 48 hours since the debacle at Aggie Stadium and it is still difficult to accept the fact that North Carolina A&T did not just win against Bethune-Cookman, but they dominated  the Wildcats in the process.

Any analysis of this game has to begin with a tip of the cap to Coach Rod Broadway, his coaching staff, and the NCA&T football team. In the words of Brian Jenkins: “it was a good old-fashion butt-whooping”.

The Aggies dominated BCU in every facet of the game.  Despite having half the number of scholarship players (33 for NCA&T compared to 60+ for BCU), riding a 7 game losing streak against BCU, and losing 67-17 to the Wildcats a year ago on national TV; NCA&T was the better team on Saturday afternoon.  The gameplan was simple for the Aggies; run the ball on offense and take away the run on defense.   The result was a 22-3 woodshed beating in which NCA&T accumulated 224 yards rushing on 50 attempts; while BCU limped its way to 5 yards rushing on 25 attempts. 

The Wildcats entered the contest as the conference’s top ranked offensive unit; however, NCA&T limited the Wildcats to just 108 yards of Total Offense outgaining the Cats by a 3:1 margin in the process (330 yards of Total Offense for NCA&T).

Earlier this season, NCA&T was dismantled 58-6 by Appalachian State and beaten handily by Coastal Carolina 31-14.  However, Rod Broadway’s bunch is gaining confidence and improving weekly.  The Aggies have won their last two games by a combined score of 46-6.

Troubling Trends 

Brian Jenkins’ team has amassed at least 10 penalties for 100 yards in each contest this season.  The Wildcats accumulated 15 penalties for 112 yards in Saturday’s contest against NCA&T.  In fact, BCU actually had more penalty yards than offensive yards in the game.  The timing and nature of the penalties are even more troubling then the excessive number of penalties.

Take the Aggies second possession of the second half as an example.  The Wildcat defense held the Aggies for what should have been a second straight  “3 and out”.  However, on 4th down and 3 on the Aggie side of the field, the Wildcats’ punt return unit was flagged for a ‘neutral zone’ infraction.  The penalty gave the Aggies a 1st and 10, allowed them to take over 6 minutes off of the clock, and ultimately led to an Aggie 24 yard FG and 15-3 advantage with little over 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  These sorts of careless, mental lapses have plagued the Wildcats all season and proved to be too much to overcome against a determined A&T squad.

But it was not just the penalties that doomed the Wildcats.  The offensive line did not block well, the receivers dropped too many passes including a certain touchdown, the quarterbacks did not deliver the ball to open receivers, the defense did not consistently get off blocks, and there were a few critical game management decisions by the coaching staff that were cause for curiosity.  It was an all around apathetic and underwhelming performance by the BCU football team and coaching staff. 

One team was fully prepared and ready for a 60-minute war, the other was going through the motions and hoping for something good to happen. Only this time it never did.

Brian Jenkins’ ball club produced a similarly lackluster effort last year against Howard University.  In that contest, the undermanned Bison outgained BCU on offense 389 yards to 196 yards but 2 defensive scores and a special teams touchdown proved to be the difference for BCU.  The Wildcats were unable to produce any defensive touchdowns against the Aggies; however, BCU’s lone points of the afternoon were set-up by a DJ Howard 27 yard interception return.

 Part of the maturation process

Coach Jenkins stated that North Carolina A&T was better prepared and more determined than his squad.  A quick review of the game stats seems to support this assertion.  Most teams seem to have one or two bad games throughout the course of a football season, but you cannot simply give the Wildcats a mulligan for their performance against the Aggies. 

The coaching staff must assume responsibility for the team’s unpreparedness.  Brian Jenkins regularly emphasizes attention to detail and ball security; yet his team’s continual struggles in these areas were prominently on display in Aggie Stadium this weekend (15 penalties for 112 yards and 4 turnovers including 3 in the 4th quarter).

Perhaps the most head scratching coaching moment of the afternoon came on BCU’s first possession of the second half.  Trailing by 9 points (12-3) with slightly more than 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, BCU found themselves facing a 4th down and 5 from the Aggie 22 yard line.  Instead of kicking an intermediate-range field goal and making it a one-possession contest, coach Jenkins elected to go for the first down.  Wide Receiver Maurice Francois was stopped a yard short of the marker and the Wildcats failed to convert.  The Aggies seemed to seize full control of the contest from that point forward.

The Wildcats (2-3) return home this week and will look to break their current 2-game losing streak when they faceoff against struggling DII opponent Fort Valley State (1-5) in the first annual Biker Classic.  Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00.  Game attendees can receive a free (visitor’s side) game ticket with the purchase of a $10 band t-shirt.  Click the picture below for more details.

Click the photo to redirect to BCU Athletic website