TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There are no secrets to success according to junior running back Tarik Cohen. The North Carolina A&T football team, ranked 20th in FCS football, improved to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 28-10 win over Florida A&M Saturday night Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Cohen was not shy about revealing why. “It’s hard work and dedication that’s gotten us here,” said Cohen after rushing for 163 yards and a touchdown. “We treat every game like it’s the biggest because it’s the next game. We’re going to come to work hard regardless.”
Cohen inched closer to the Aggies all-time rushing record on Saturday. He is only 88 yards shy of breaking Mike Mayhew’s record. In two games at Bragg, he has rushed for 373 yards and four touchdowns against the Rattlers.
“It’s not about what field you’re playing on, it’s about getting the job done,” said Cohen. “We play just as hard here as we play anywhere else.”
For the first time in school history, the Aggies have won back-to-back games in Tallahassee after beating the Rattlers (1-7, 1-4 MEAC) in overtime at Bragg in 2013. The combination of Cohen and senior quarterback Kwashaun Quick helped the Aggies get off to a fast start. Quick accounted for the Aggies first 44 yards of the game whether through the air or on the ground. After Cohen got a hold of things he exploded through the Rattlers defense for a 23-yard gain to the FAMU 7-yard line.
Two plays later Quick was in the end zone on a read option play six minutes into the game. The Aggies were able to get on the board again in the first quarter as Cohen scored on a 24-yard run up the middle for a 14-0 lead. N.C. A&T’s third drive also looked promising as Quick again broke to the outside and 44 yards to the FAMU 22.
But a horse collar call on FAMU and holding call on N.C. A&T nullified the play and as Quick gingerly walked off the field after being yanked down. The Aggies third drive eventually ended in a punt as the Aggies next two drives also stalled.
“Sometimes that happens in football,” said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway. “Sometimes you can jump out on a team everything seems like it is going to be easy. But you’ve got to give FAM credit, they started to play. We just got way too sloppy and started to do some things we normally don’t do.”
The Aggies added one more touchdown before the half as Quick’s replacement, redshirt freshman Lamar Raynard launched a pass in between two defenders on a post pattern to redshirt freshman Malik Wilson for a 53-yard touchdown. The Aggies also opened the second half on a touchdown pass as Quick found redshirt sophomore Caleb Gabriel in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown.
The action appeared to slow down from there as both teams had trouble moving the ball the rest of the way. FAMU gained just 124 yards of total offense on the day with only four yards rushing on 18 carries. The Rattlers might have been shut out by the Aggies for the first time in their history had not been for a blocked punt that gave them the ball at the Aggies 5 in the third quarter. The blocked punt eventually led to a Carson Royal 3-yard touchdown pass to Desmond Noird.
“We played well in spots, we played bad in spots,” said Broadway. “We made a couple of huge mistakes that gave them their points. Otherwise they would have had a hard time scoring. Of course they blocked a punt and we shanked another. I was a little disappointed in our kicking game.”
The Aggies have now won six straight heading into a contest at S.C. State that will be for conference supremacy. The Bulldogs are 4-1 in the league after their win over Hampton on Saturday. S.C. State has won 14 out of the last 15 matchups including last season’s 13-0 win in Atlanta. Therefore, Broadway knows the Aggies can’t afford to overlook S.C. State or anyone else.
“It’s tough to avoid being over confident. They’re 19, 20 year olds. They start to smell themselves and believing they’re better than they really are. Then they forget what it takes to win. No matter who you’re playing, winning is in the preparation.”