Unbeaten Virginia State scored early and often Saturday en route to a 42-19 victory against Fayetteville State in the CIAA Championship Game in Salem, Va.
The victory, the 14th in a row for Virginia State going back to last season, gave the Trojans (10-0) their 12th CIAA crown in school history and the second in four years. They last won the conference crown in 2014.
The win also propels them into the Division II playoffs. Virginia State entered the weekend ranked No. 15 in Division II and No. is No. 2 in Super Region Two. The Trojans are making their second playoff appearance and will host No. 7 seed West Georgia. Bowie State, the runner-up to Virginia State in the CIAA Northern Division race, is the No. 4 seed and will host Delta State.
Senior running back Trenton Cannon, the 2017 CIAA Offensive Player of the Year and the Trojans’ MVP in the game, rushed for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Cannon finished the game with 311 all-purpose yards. Quarterback Cordelral Cook threw for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Trojans.
Things went bad in a hurry for Fayetteville State (6-5). The Broncos returned the opening kickoff to the Trojans’ 43-yard line. However, they fumbled the ball away at their 47 on their third play from scrimmage. Cannon converted the turnover into points when he scored on a 10-yard touchdown run at the 11:12 mark of the first quarter, opening the flood gates; 250 of the 439 total yards the Trojans gain in the contest came in the first quarter as they built a 21-0 lead after scoring on each of their first three possessions.
Tuskegee 13, Fort Valley State 6 – The Golden Tigers can attest to the notion that defense wins championships after defeating Wildcats in the SIAC Championship Game in Fort Valley, Ga., for their 31st conference crown. Tuskegee (9-2), in the championship game for the first time since 2014, held Fort Valley (5-5), the defending conference champion, to 183 total yards, including just 28 through the air en route to its seventh straight victory and 14th n a row against SIAC opponents. Hoderick Lowe, the game’s MVP with 144 rushing yards, scored twice for Tuskegee. Fort Valley’s points came on a pair of field goals. Linebacker Osband Thompson, the SIAC Defensive Player of the Year, led the Golden Tigers with 14 tackles.
North Carolina A&T 36, Savannah State 17 – The unbeaten Aggies clinched at least a share of the MEAC championship and a berth in the Celebration Bowl next month with a home victory and North Carolina Central’s 13-10 loss to Bethune-Cookman. Howard remained in contention for a share of the conference crown with its victory against Norfolk State. However, North Carolina A&T, which has won or shared three of the last four MEAC titles, holds the tie-breaker over the Bison. Since North Carolina A&T and Howard didn’t play each other this season, the Sagarin rating, which measures strength of schedule, serves as the tiebreaker. North Carolina A&T came into Saturday’s game with a 149 ranking, while Howard came in at 208. Howard’s opponent next week, Hampton, came in slightly lower at 224. A win over Hampton would likely not do enough for the Bison even if the Aggies lost their season finale against North Carolina Central, which entered Saturday’s play with a 202 rating. The Aggies (10-0, 7-0 MEAC) will face the SWAC champion in the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 16 in Atlanta. Junior running back Marqeull Cartwright did the heavy lifting for North Carolina A&T, No. 1 in the Black College polls and No. in the FCS rankings. Cartwright ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries as he topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. Cartwright, who has run for 1,46 yards, is the eighth ball-carrier in school history with 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen was the most recent to perform that feat. Cohen rushed for 1,000 or more yards each of the previous four seasons. Quarterback Lamar Raynard, Cartwright’s high school teammate, passed for 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 17 of 27 throws. Cartwright’s two touchdown passes give him a school record 25 for season, breaking the previous record of 24 by Alan Hooker that had stood for 32 years.
Howard 28, Norfolk State 24 – Freshman quarterback Caylin Newton rolled into the end zone on a two-yard run with five seconds remaining to give Bison and home win that keeps them alive in the MEAC championship race. Howard can earn a share of the conference championship with a victory over Hampton in the Bison’s season finale and a loss by North Carolina A&T to North Carolina Central. However, North Carolina A&T would represent the MEAC against the SWAC champion in the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 16 in Atlanta based on the two-team tie-breaker. Since North Carolina A&T didn’t and Howard didn’t play each other this season, the Sagarin rating, which measures strength of schedule, serves as the tie-breaker. North Carolina A&T came into Saturday’s game with a 149 ranking, while Howard came in at 208. Howard’s opponent next week, Hampton, came in slightly lower at 224. A win over Hampton would likely not do enough for the Bison even if the Aggies lost their season finale against North Carolina Cenral, which entered Saturday’s play with a 202 rating. Newton drove Howard (7-3, 6-1 MEAC) 89 yards in the final four minutes for the winning score. Along the way, the Bison picked up a first down on deflected pass on a fourth-and-eight play and overcame a costly holding penalty after advancing to the red zone on Newton’s 16-yard run. Newton scrambled 15 yards to Norfolk State’s five-yard line to help offset the penalty and put the Bison in position to claim their fifth straight victory. Norfolk State (3-7, 3-4 MEAC) was scoreless over the final three quarters after being ahead 21-7 in the second period.
Bethune-Cookman 13, North Carolina Central 10 – The Wildcats connected on a 48-yard Hail Mary pass from quarterback Larry Brihm Jr. Keavon Mitchell as time expired to hand the Eagles a home loss and knock them out of the MEAC championship race. North Carolina Central (7-3, 5-2 MEAC) led 10-7 after quarterback Chauncey Caldwell threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Xavier McCoy with 16 seconds remaining in the game. The Eagles’ 61-yard scoring drive had been kept alive by a fourth-down pass interference penalty against Bethune-Cookman (6-4, 5-2 MEAC). North Carolina Central was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration on the ensuing kickoff following the Eagles’ go-ahead touchdown. Mitchell returned the ball beyond midfield to set up his and Brihm’s last-second heroics.
Alcorn State 59, Mississippi Valley State 0 – The Braves claimed their fourth straight SWAC East Division championship with a lopsided home victory against their instate rivals. Alcorn (7-3, 5-1 SWAC) will be the first team to reach the SWAC Championship Game four years in a row. The Braves will face the winner of the Grambling State-Southern Nov. 25 showdown in the Bayou Classic for the West Division title. Alcorn quarterback Noah Johnson had 419 yards total offense – 297 passing and 122 passing – as the Braves piled up 746 yards, 10 shy of the school record set in 1994 against Grambling. Johnson ran for two touchdowns and threw three touchdown passes, all to Norlando Veals who had 253 receiving yards. De’Lance Turner led Alcorn’s rushing attack with 171 yards. Alcorn held the Delta Devils (2-8, 1-5 SWAC) to 215 total yards, including minus 11 on the ground.
Delaware State 33, Morgan State 30
South Carolina State 33, Hampton 15
Grambling State 24, Alabama State 7
Jackson State 10, Alabama A&M 7
Prairie View A&M 35, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 12
Southern 33, Texas Southern 7
Edinboro 63, Cheyney 0
Faulkner 49, Edward Waters 3
Langston 38, Wayland Baptist 19
Lyon College 41, Texas College 3
Southwest Baptist 52, Lincoln (Mo.) 7
Tennessee State 23, Southeast Missouri 20
West Virginia State 45, West Virginia Wesleyan 28
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