Aggies Open 2017 Season In Boiling Springs
No. 25 North Carolina A&T (0-0) at Gardner-Webb (0-0)
Date: Sept. 2, 2017
Time: 6 p.m.
Facility: Spangler Stadium (9,000)
Series: First Meeting
Radio: 1320 AM/93.7 FM WCOG; Play-by-play – Donal Ware, Analysts – Al Swann, Billy Covington
POSSIBLE OFFENSIVE STARTERS: WR Elijah Bell (6-2, 221, So., MEAC Rookie of the Year in 2016); LT Brandon Parker (6-7, 309, R-Sr., 2x MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year); LG Macquel Hardy (6-3, 295, Jr., Solid JUCO Transfer); C Darriel Mack (6-2, 293, R-Sr., preseason All-MEAC); RG Micah Shaw (6-1, 290, Jr., Has played in 22 career games); RT Christian Marshall (6-5, 308, Gr., Graduate transfer out of Jackson State); TE Leroy Hill (6-3, 249, R-Jr., preseason All-MEAC); WR Khris Gardin (5-7, 185, Sr., Has a chance to break NCAA career punt return yards record); WR Malik Wilson (5-11, 166, R-Jr., Serves as the Aggies deep threat); QB Lamar Raynard (6-4, 200, R-Jr., Completed a single-season school record 64.6 percent of his passes); RB Marquell Cartwright (5-8, 201, R-Jr., An amazing 11 career TDs as All-American Cohen’s backup for two seasons).
LAST GAME’S DEFENSIVE STARTERS: DE Kenneth Melton (6-2, 235, R-Sr., Should provide a veteran presence on the D-Line); NG Julian McKnight (6-3, 280, R-Jr., preseason second-team All-MEAC); DT Justin Cates (6-2, 275, Jr., Will try to fill the large role Marquis Ragland played for four years); DE Darryl Johnson (6-5, 226, R-So., Had an excellent Spring Game); LB Julius Reynolds (5-9, 226, R-Jr., He is excellent on the field and in the classroom); LB Kiaundric Richardson (6-0, 214, R-Jr., Posted 48 tackles last season); LB Marcus Albert (5-10, 205, R-Sr., He could be the leader of this defense before season’s end); ROV Jeremy Taylor (5-11, 190, R-Sr., led the Aggies in tackles last season); CB Mac McCain (5-11, 174, R-Fr., Has the height and skill set to cover some of the bigger receivers in the MEAC); FS Tard McCoy (5-9, 191, R-Sr., he is another veteran in the secondary); CB Timadre Abram (5-10, 168, R-Jr., Another Aggies corner with good size).
The Game: Saturday will be the start of the 94th season of Aggies football. N.C. A&T is coming off another successful season where they were 9-3 overall and 7-1 in the MEAC. By earning an invite to the 2016 NCAA FCS playoffs, the Aggies earned their second straight postseason appearance. It is the first time the program has accomplished that feat since reaching the Heritage Bowl in 1991 and the NCAA playoffs in 1992. For the first time in four seasons the Aggies will open a football campaign without legendary running back Tarik Cohen. Over the past four years, Cohen accounted for 40 percent of the Aggies offense and finished his career with 5,619 rushing yards., the most in MEAC history.
The Aggies open the season in Boiling Springs, N.C., against the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs of the Big South conference. The Bulldogs are looking for their first winning season since 2013. The last time the Aggies played a Big South school was in 2014 when Coastal Carolina defeated the Aggies 31-30 at Aggie Stadium. Coastal Carolina is no longer in the Big South. GWU’s offense revolves around quarterback Tyrell Maxwell who rushed for 955 yards and eight touchdowns, while throwing for 1,657 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
News & Notes
- N.C. A&T is seeking its sixth straight winning season. The Aggies five straight winning season is the longest current streak in the MEAC. The Aggies long string of winning seasons is 10, occurring from 1955-64.
- In 2016, the Aggies led the MEAC in 13 statistical categories including rushing offense, team offense, scoring offense, red zone offense, tackles for loss and team sacks.
- The Aggies have won nine or more games three straight seasons. The last time the Aggies accomplished the feat was from 1990-92 when the Aggies won nine games each of those seasons.
- The Aggies have won nine or more games 10 times in school history, all since 1980.
From an Aggie Point of View
“I didn’t realize (Gardner-Webb) was this good when we scheduled them. This is probably one of our most changeling openers since we’ve been here. It’s a challenge we look forward to. It is an opportunity for us to go out and play, and hopefully we’ll play well in our first game. But they present a lot of problems with what they do scheme wise. We’ve got to be a fundamentally sound, especially on defense. They put you in so many positions you don’t want to be in defensively, so if we don’t tackle well and take care of our assignments, they’re going to make us pay.”
North Carolina A&T head coach Rod Broadway on Gardner-Webb
Opposing Point of View
“Offensively, they lost a really talented back, but we think their next back is very, very capable. Their quarterback is a real dynamic guy, very similar to our quarterback. He is a really big kid who can throw and run, and then he has a lot of weapons to throw to. They have real big receivers on the outside and their smaller slot guys who are hard to tag. They have quite a package for us to try to defend. Defensively, they have a very talented linebacking corps and very aggressive safeties.”
Gardner-Webb head coach Carroll McCray on North Carolina A&T