Eagles face former rival in home opener
The young man returning kicks against N.C. Central today (2 p.m., nccueaglepride.com) is supposed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, players in Division II football.
Saint Augustine’s Jermaine Jones (6-4, 195) was the men’s track athlete of the year for the 2013 Division II outdoor season, but the redshirt senior from Wilmington is a wide receiver who can fly.
The Eagles will be mindful of containing Jones after getting punched in the gut a week ago when Duke’s Jamison Crowder returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, his scoring contribution to a 45-0 shutout.
Against the Falcons, NCCU (0-1) will look to sustain offensives drives and avoid giving up big plays on third downs, interim coach Dwayne Foster said. That will require more production than the 81 yards out of the backfield that the Eagles cobbled together against Duke.
NCCU running back Idreis Augustus missed the 2012 season with a knee injury, but he led the Eagles’ ground game with 50 yards on nine carries in the opener. Foster expects Augustus’ workload to increase in today’s game.
“He knows that his leg is not going to fall off,” Foster said. “He feels good. He’s been hit.”
NCCU’s players should feel a step or two faster during their home opener since Duke gave them a feel for game speed, Foster said.
This will be Saint Augustine’s season opener, marking the first time in school history that the Falcons have played a Division I Football Championship Subdivision team.
NCCU and Saint Augustine’s aren’t strangers, though, having met 29 times when both schools were in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Eagles lead the series with Saint Augustine’s 26-2-1.
NCCU is predicted to finish fourth in the MEAC, and Saint Augustine’s was voted as the third-best squad in the CIAA.
Saint Augustine’s linebacker Chaz Robinson was second in the CIAA with 9.8 tackles per game a year ago, and Falcons defensive end Javarous Faulk tied for second in Division II with 1.64 sacks per game. But Saint Augustine’s coach Michael Costa said his team won’t head to O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium with anything that NCCU redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Reid hasn’t seen before.
“He’s an athlete,” Costa said. “He can run, he can throw and he’s got experience.”