Special teams come through as NCCU drops Howard
N.C.Central turned a pair of third quarter Howard mistakes into touchdowns and that proved to be the difference as the Eagles defeated the Bison 37-28 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference showdown at Howard’s Greene Stadium.
NCCU (3-2, 1-0 MEAC) set the tone early, driving 49 yards on its first possession capped by Idreis Augustus’ six-yard touchdown run.
Oleg Parent’s point-after kick was blocked.
Howard (1-4, 0-2 MEAC) countered immediately when Jonathan Booker caught a 20-yard scoring strike from Greg McGhee to make it 7-6.
The Eagles returned the favor and regained the lead, 13-7, when Dequadis Tucker scored from 17 yards out early in the second quarter.
But the Bison answered late in second quarter when McGhee threw his second touchdown pass of the day, this one to Stewart Hartman for nine yards to take its final lead of the game 14-13.
Jordan Reid then put together a 10-play, 54-yard drive that set up a 48-yard Parent field goal just before the half that gave the Eagles a 16-14 advantage.
NCCU came out strong in the third quarter and made the key plays that would decide the game.
Return specialist Adrian Wilkins fielded a John Fleck punt at his own 11, found a seam and sprinted 89 yards for a score.
Less than six minutes later, NCCU would deliver yet another blow when Tim Thaniel returned a blocked punt 50 yards for a 30-14 lead.
“We talked all week about special teams and the importance of making something happen in the kicking game,” said NCCU interim Coach Dwayne Foster. “Whether it was get a big return, block a punt or field goal, these guys stepped up to the challenge of making something big happen.”
“We had a lot of missed opportunities, “ said Howard Interim Coach Ray Petty. “We had a missed field goal and our specials teams just weren’t as good as theirs today.”
The Bison attempted to mount a comeback when McGhee drove his team 90 yards in 15 plays and cut the deficit to 30-20 with almost 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Reid snuffed out any comeback attempts when he audibled and raced 54 yards untouched for the Eagles final score.
McGhee’s fourth scoring pass, a career high for him, closed the gap in the final two minutes.
Reid led the Eagles with 94 yards rushing and was 9 of 19 for 54 yards. Wilkins totaled 166 yards of combined punt and kick returns to lead NCCU.
Howard’s McGhee completed 31 of 48 for 328 yards and a career high 4 TD passes, three going to Jonathan Booker, who grabbed a career-best 10 receptions for 154 yards.
|NC CENTRAL 37, HOWARD 28|
NCCU—Augustus 6 run (kick blocked), 9:53.
How—Booker 20 pass from McGhee (Fleck kick), 4:51.
NCCU—Tucker 17 run (Parent kick), 13:03.
How—Hartman 9 pass from McGhee (Fleck kick), 1:59.
NCCU—FG Parent 48, :00.
NCCU—Wilkins 89 punt return (Parent kick), 11:25.
NCCU—Thaniel 50 blocked field goal return (Parent kick), 5:52.
How—Booker 20 pass from McGhee (kick failed), 11:42.
NCCU—Reid 54 run (Parent kick), 4:24.
How—Booker 19 pass from McGhee (Freeman run), 1:36.
|Time of Possession||24:11||35:49|
RUSHING—NC Central, Reid 7-94, Augustus 14-82, K.Thompson 2-17,
Wright 7-14, Tucker 2-7, Bell 1-1. Howard, Freeman 9-52, McGhee 13-48,
Philyaw 13-30, Tusan 2-9, Christy 1-0.
PASSING—NC Central, Reid 9-19-0-54. Howard, McGhee 31-48-0-328.
RECEIVING—NC Central, Wright 3-8, Poole 2-34, Barren 2-8,
L.Scruggs 2-4. Howard, Booker 10-154, Hartman 6-48, Freeman 3-31,
Aiyegoro 3-27, Tyson 3-11, Philyaw 2-39, Christy 2-10,
Kindle-Parrish 1-7, Harris 1-1.