NCCU vows to bring 'A' game to Charlotte Saturday
N.C. Central has been through a couple of fires this season, getting scorched in one, extinguishing the other.
The Eagles were beaten up in Week 1. Duke socked it to them 45-0.
A week ago, NCCU was in a dogfight with Saint Augustine’s before finally protecting its home turf with 23-20 double-overtime win.
In Week 3, NCCU has a road date with the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday (12 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com).
“We can’t go over to Charlotte and play the way we did (against Saint Augustine’s),” NCCU running back Idreis Augustus said. “We’ve got to give them a hard four quarters and play — play ball.”
Charlotte’s record is unblemished, but the 49ers haven’t been challenged two games into their inaugural season of football.
That might give the Eagles a little extra oomph this weekend, NCCU interim coach Dwayne Foster said.
NCCU was favored over Division II Saint Augustine’s but the Eagles put themselves in a bad way with penalties and unfinished drives, Foster said.
But when it was winning time, NCCU with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter played poised football, marching 54 yards in 10 plays to tie the game with an extra point after a short touchdown pass, a finely executed two-minute drill that left 29 seconds on the clock.
“We kept thinking, it shouldn’t be like this,” Augustus said. “But in that time period, we showed ourselves — more than anyone else — what we had to do and what we’re capable of.”
“That final drive was a really focused drive,” Foster said. “It showed that we can play good football when we want to, when we have to.”
Foster said he’s not anticipating having to claw and kick out of a corner every Saturday, but he liked the fight in his guys. It showed their resolve, he said.
Charlotte’s hardly broken a sweat in the two contests at its brand-new, on-campus stadium against teams that obviously have been around longer than the 49ers yet don’t have the same level of talent.
Campbell competes on the Division I Football Championship Subdivision level, as do Charlotte and NCCU, but the Fighting Camels don’t give out football scholarships.
Chowan, a Division II school in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, can attract talent with scholarships, although not as many as Division I schools per NCAA rules.
Charlotte beat Campbell 52-7 and handled Chowan 47-7. That’s 99 points generated by the 49ers in two games.
“They’re playing Central on Saturday,” Augustus said. “It’s a different ballgame.”
The spectre of raucous Charlotte fans doesn’t faze Augustus, either.
NCCU actually practices with loud, hip-hop music pumping through the sound system at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. The idea is to simulate what it’s like when hostile crowds are giving the Eagles all that they can handle when it’s winning time.
“Hassling fans,” Augustus said. “Personally, I enjoy that.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Foster and Charlotte’s Brad Lambert are into their first stints as college head coaches, and neither has lost at home.
Granted, Foster has led the Eagles (1-1) in just one home game, while Lambert, in charge of a 49ers team (2-0) in its first season of football, will be playing his third straight home game.
Both schools feature the distinction of having women at the helm of their Division I athletics programs. NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree was one of the driving forces behind the school moving all of its sports from Division II to Division I, while Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose was tasked with overseeing the construction of a football program from the ground up.