N.C. Central defeats Alcorn State 23-14 to win MEAC/SWAC Challenge

From the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference:

Box Score

ATLANTA, Ga., Aug. 28, 2021 — North Carolina Central kicked off its football season with a 23-14 victory over Alcorn State to capture the 2021 Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge championship trophy, as seen in primetime on ESPN.

Saturday’s game was highly anticipated since both teams were out of action for more than 600 days due to the pandemic.

The game started with a methodic drive that ended in a 20-yard Braves touchdown pass from senior quarterback Felix Harper to junior wide out Juan Anthony Jr.

After that, it was a defensive struggle until Harper fumbled the ball, and Eagles sophomore defensive back Manny Smith fell on it for the recovery. Smith finished the game as the defensive MVP after he recorded 10 total tackles and a sack to go with the fumble recovery.

For the NCCU offense, everything started and finished with sophomore quarterback Davius Richard, who put in work both on the ground and through the air. He finished the game completing 16 of 25 passes for 184 yards. On the ground, he posted 64 yards on nine attempts and two scores. For his effort, he was named offensive MVP.

One of the rushing touchdowns happened with 23 seconds left in the first half to tie the ballgame at seven. The Eagles then opened the second half with another long drive that ended with Richard’s second rushing score.

The Braves answered that score as Harper connected with sophomore running back Niko Duffey for a four-yard touchdown to make the count 14-13 in favor of Alcorn State.

It was all Eagles after that. Sophomore place-kicker Adrian Olivo made a 28-yard field goal at the 13:39 mark in the fourth quarter. NCCU special team’s unit struck again when sophomore defensive back Brandon Codrington took an Alcorn State punt 77 yards to the house.

NCCU implemented a running back by committee scheme. Senior Isaiah Totten rushed for 58 yards on 13 touches, while sophomore Jamal Currie-Elliott tallied 31 yards in eight carries, and senior Jorden Freeman rushed the ball nine times for 72 yards.

Senior wide receiver Ryan McDaniel hauled in six receptions for 72 yards. Seniors E.J. Hicks and Isiah Macklin both had three catches for 37 and 28 yards, respectively. Senior Daeshawn Stephens made one reception for 33 yards that set up Richard’s score before the intermission.

For the Eagle’s defense, senior linebacker Noah Rainbow-Douglas recorded seven tackles. Junior defensive back Jauqine Vukobradovich finished the contest with five tackles and two pass breakups.

Harper finished with 154 passing yards and two touchdowns, while completing 17 of 27 passes. Anthony ended the day with five grabs for 66 yards and a score. LeCharles Pringle added four catches for 41 yards to the Braves passing attack.

Alcorn State approached the rushing game with a two-man attack. Senior Stadford Anderson recorded 128 yards on 11 carries and Duffey finished with 63 yards on nine touches.

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