N.C. Central to open 2013 football season at cross-town rival Duke
No longer in rebuilding mode, N.C. Central football coach Henry Frazier III said he is now in the more desirable position of being able to focus on reloading for a challenging 2013 schedule that was announced Thursday.
“Trying to get a couple of signatures next week,” Frazier said, referring to Wednesday’s national signing day.
Football Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA) member NCCU will ride into the 2013 campaign for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship on momentum from its first winning season since 2007. The Eagles went 6-5 a year ago, 5-3 in the MEAC.
Last season, NCCU was able to gather some confidence with a win over Division II Fayetteville State and then measure its mettle after a loss to Elon before tangling with FBS member Duke in the Bull City Gridiron Classic.
This time around, the Eagles will get a piece of the Blue Devils right out of the gate, opening at Wallace Wade Stadium Aug. 31.
Duke played in a bowl game last season. NCCU is itching to make it to the FCS playoffs.
“That ought to be interesting there,” Frazier said about the upcoming matchup with Duke. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to last a little longer than we did last year.”
Duke beat NCCU 54-17, but that was the game when Frazier discovered that Jordan Reid was the quarterback he’d been looking for.
Reid came off the bench in relief of NCCU starter Matt Goggans and played well in Wallace Wade Stadium and for the next several weeks before losing some steam when the MEAC title was within the Eagles’ reach.
“We kind of fizzled in our quarterback play down the stretch, and that kind of hurt us,” Frazier said.
NCCU stays on the road for its second game, taking on a first-year football program in FCS independent Charlotte.
Charlotte will jump to the FBS ranks as a member of Conference USA in 2015.
Colonial Athletic Association co-champion Towson comes to O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Sept. 21 for the first of five NCCU home games and a first-ever meeting with the Eagles.
NCCU’s MEAC schedule starts Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C., against a rising Howard program that was 6-2 in the league last season. The last time the teams met was Sept. 16, 1995, when the Eagles beat the Bison 37-32 on the road.
Morgan State comes to Durham for NCCU’s homecoming on Oct. 19.
Reigning MEAC champ Bethune-Cookman didn’t lose a conference game last season. NCCU gets another shot at the Wildcats on Nov. 2 at home.
NCCU’s final home game is against Norfolk State, a team the Eagles haven’t faced since 1995. The Spartans were the 2011 MEAC champions but struggled last year, going 2-6 in the MEAC, 4-7 overall.
NCCU puts a bow on the regular season in Greensboro against rival N.C. A&T. The Aggies got the best of the Eagles in overtime last season in front of a sellout crowd at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Frazier, who is entering his third season with NCCU, will put the Eagles on display April 12 in their annual spring game. Senior quarterbacks Goggans and Reid, along with a couple of younger quarterbacks, will wrestle for the QB job, Frazier said.
Goggans is a pocket passer, while Reid, along with rising redshirt sophomore Quenton Rucker and rising redshirt freshman Malcolm Bell, can do a little more with their legs.
“It’s a good situation to be in,” Frazier said.
Injuries or illness kept Bell and Rucker from being able to push for playing time last season. That impacted what NCCU could do with the less-mobile Goggans backing up Reid.
“We couldn’t afford to try to run the quarterback runs and really open the entire playbook,” Frazier said. “With all of those guys being healthy, it really gives us an opportunity just to do a lot of different things on the football field.”
2013 NCCU SCHEDULE
|Aug. 31||at Duke||TBA|
|Sept. 14||at Charlotte||TBA|
|Sept. 21||TOWSON||2 p.m.|
|Oct. 5||at Howard||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 12||S.C. STATE||2 p.m.|
|Oct. 19||MORGAN ST.||2 p.m.|
|Oct. 26||at Savannah St.||TBA|
|Nov. 2||BETHUNE-COOKMAN||2 p.m.|
|Nov. 9||at Hampton||TBA|
|Nov. 16||NORFOLK ST.||2 p.m.|
|Nov. 23||at N.C. A&T||1 p.m.|
Home games in CAPS. For ticket information, visit www.NCCUEaglePride.com or call (919) 530-5170.