N.C. A&T ends NCCU losing season with 28-0 shutout win
N.C. Central couldn’t save itself from a losing season and didn’t do anything that might have strengthened an argument about hanging on to its interim coach for another year.
N.C. A&T, NCCU’s archrival, embarrassed the Eagles 28-0 at Aggie Stadium on Saturday. The Aggies’ execution and taunting so badly ruffled the Eagles’ feathers that coaches had to restore order on the field, and an NCCU player was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
There is speculation that those calling the shots in NCCU’s athletics department may replace interim coach Dwayne Foster, who took over shortly before the start of this season when Henry Frazier III was fired.
NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree said she terminated Frazier because reoccurring issues with his ex-wife, Lanier Turner-Frazier, had become too much of a distraction.
Last summer, Frazier pleaded guilty to assaulting Turner-Frazier. He was arrested again this past summer for allegedly violating a domestic violence protective order that governed their relationship, but Wake County judge Jennifer Knox declared him not guilty.
This was Foster’s first season as a college head coach, and he has said he wants to remain at the helm of NCCU’s football program.
NCCU finished the season 5-7 overall, 3-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the losing league record compounded by the loss to A&T (7-4, 4-4 MEAC).
A year ago, Frazier delivered NCCU’s first winning season since 2007, and the team’s goal this time around was the MEAC title and its accompanying Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth.
“Things didn’t turn out the way we planned, but I’m just happy that those guys followed our lead and that they played for us throughout the season,” NCCU redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Reid said. “Things just didn’t go our way today. We didn’t have (any) momentum on the offense, and we just couldn’t get things going.”
Once again, NCCU failed to get its offense, defense and special teams on the same page at the same time. The Eagles ran the ball OK (113 yards) against A&T, but NCCU’s passing was pitiful (35 yards).
Reid threw two first-half interceptions. A&T middle linebacker Bryan Houston returned one of them for a touchdown that helped the Aggies take a 21-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After NCCU’s Thomas Dixon returned the second-half kickoff 78 yards to the A&T 22-yard line, redshirt freshman quarterback Malcolm Bell was under center for the Eagles.
Fourth down arrived on that series and NCCU passed up a field goal attempt in favor of a touchdown try but got nothing out of the deal.
In the fourth quarter, Bell fumbled when he tried to make something happen with his legs. A&T’s D’Vonte Grant recovered the football and returned it for a touchdown.
Bell was stretched out on the field for a few minutes and needed help making it to the sideline.
Reid returned under center for the Eagles, and although he wasn’t very productive, his teammates showed him plenty of love after the game when he took a knee on the sideline, reflected and cried a little bit.
It was Reid’s last time suiting up for NCCU, likely his last time playing high-level football, a game that’s been a part of his life since he was young boy.
“I was 9. I played for the High Point Lions,” Reid said.
NCCU senior linebacker Tazmon Foster had 13 tackles against A&T, leading the team in stops just like he’s done for most of the season. His performance earned him the school record for the most tackles in a season, finishing with 144. The record was 142.
Foster transferred to NCCU from N.C. Wesleyan, a Division III school in Rocky Mount. He set the single-season record for tackles there with 129 in 2011.
After the final seconds disappeared from the game clock, Foster braced himself to remove his NCCU uniform for the final time.
“Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” the linebacker said, weeping. “I’m never going to play football again. I’m never going to play football again.”
Reid broke the NCCU record for career pass-completion percentage. From 2010-13, he connected on 55.9 percent of his passes, making good on 334 of 597 attempts.
Dwayne Foster praised his bunch.
“They’ve looked adversity in the eye and dealt with it as young men should,” he said. “Throughout the season, the ball didn’t bounce our way a lot, but they stayed the fight, kept the fight.”
Reid said, “It was just a roller-coaster ride. We weren’t consistent throughout the season. I kind of put the blame on us as seniors.”
Coach Foster early in the season talked about how he was growing into the role of carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders:
“I think you get more comfortable week after week, practice after practice,” he said. “I’ve prepared to be a head coach as long as I’ve been an assistant coach at the college level. My goal was to be a head coach at some point, at some time.”
Foster got his shot, tweaking and applying the notes he’d taken over the years while working as an assistant coach.
The coming days will determine whether he gets to add to those notes at NCCU.
|NC A&T 28, NC CENTRAL 0|
|NC Central||0||0||0||0— 0|
NCAT_Kindle 1 run (Co.Jones kick), 7:15.
NCAT_Lewis 1 run (Co.Jones kick), 12:06.
NCAT_Houston 30 interception return (Co.Jones kick), 11:10.
NCAT_Grant 20 fumble return (Beatty kick), 12:16.
|Time of Possession||25:16||34:44|
RUSHING_NC Central, Clarke 13-51, Wilkins 5-24, Wright 1-17,
Reid 8-17, Staton 1-4, Swinson 1-3, Bell 5-(minus 3). NC A&T,
Cohen 31-125, Lewis 5-18, Drake 5-9, Team 1-0, Kindle 9-(minus 7).
PASSING_NC Central, Reid 6-17-2-24, Bell 1-6-0-11, Team 0-1-0-0.
NC A&T, Kindle 10-17-0-105.
RECEIVING_NC Central, Wilkins 3-27, Clarke 2-5, G.Smith 1-2,
Swinson 1-1. NC A&T, Griffin 2-23, Lawrence 2-20, Swann 1-20,
Moore 1-16, Warren 1-10, Cohen 1-6, McMinn 1-6, Drake 1-4.