No. 21 North Carolina A&T (1-0) vs. Mars Hill (1-0)
Date: Sept. 9, 2017 Time: 6 p.m. Facility: Aggie Stadium (21,500)
Series: First Meeting
Radio: 1320 AM/93.7 FM WCOG; Play-by-play – Donal Ware, Analysts – Al Swann, Billy Covington
PROBABLE OFFENSIVE STARTERS: WR Elijah Bell (6-2, 221, So., 5 rec., 71 yards, 2TDs); LT Brandon Parker (6-7, 309, R-Sr., MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Week); LG Joshua Mattocks (6-3, 331, R-Sr., entering his fourth season as a starter); C Darriel Mack (6-2, 293, R-Sr., preseason All-MEAC); RG Daquan Blake (6-1, 290, Jr., Third-team All-MEAC); RT Christian Marshall (6-5, 308, Gr., Graduate transfer out of Jackson State); WR Ron Hunt (6-1, 181, So., Greensboro, N.C. He is another threat to spread the field); WR Khris Gardin (5-7, 185, Sr., Had 183 all-purpose yards vs. GWU); TE Leroy Hill (6-3, 249, R-Jr., All-MEAC tight end); WR Malik Wilson (5-11, 166, R-Jr., The deepest of deep threats who caught a 61-yard TD vs. GWU); QB Lamar Raynard (6-4, 200, R-Jr., Leads the nation in quarterback efficiency rating at 253.93); RB Marquell Cartwright (5-8, 201, R-Jr., Scored his 12th career TD last Saturday).
PROBABLE DEFENSIVE STARTERS: DE Kenneth Melton (6-2, 235, R-Sr., Had a sack last week vs. GWU); NG Kadarius Kendrick (6-4, 277, R-So., Had a career-best four tackles last week vs. GWU); DT Justin Cates (6-2, 275, Jr., Posted two tackles vs. GWU last week); DE Darryl Johnson (6-5, 226, R-So., Recorded 2 TFLs vs. GWU); LB Julius Reynolds (5-9, 226, R-Jr., Had five tackles against GWU); LB Kiaundric Richardson (6-0, 214, R-Jr., Had two solo tackles last week vs. GWU); LB Marcus Albert (5-10, 205, R-Sr., Had a tackle for loss vs. GWU); FS Jeremy Taylor (5-11, 190, R-Sr., Moves from LB to safety); CB Mac McCain (5-11, 174, R-Fr., Had a deflection that led to an INT last week); ROV Richie Kittles (5-11, 195, R-So., Led the Aggies with seven tackles); CB Timadre Abram (5-10, 168, R-Jr., Another Aggies corner with good size).
The Game: North Carolina A&T will play its home opener on Saturday in what will be its only September home game before going on the road three straight weeks to face an FBS school (Charlotte 49ers) and two conference opponents (Morgan State and South Carolina State). The Aggies have won seven of their last nine home openers, and they are 25-11 in home openers since Aggie Stadium opened in 1981. The last seven home openers the Aggies have won were won by an average of 30.1 points. For the third straight season the Aggies first home opponent will be a Division II. Playing Mars Hill will mark just the sixth time since 1980 the Aggies have gone outside the CIAA to play a Division II opponent.
The Aggies are coming off impressive offensive, defensive and special teams performances last week at Gardner-Webb. Everything but converting extra points seemed to work for the Aggies in Boiling Springs. Lamar Raynard was 19 of 22 for 321 yards and three touchdowns, and he also ran in for a score. The defense held the Runnin’ Bulldogs to 114 yards of offense and punt returner Khris Gardin returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown. The Aggies welcome in Mars Hill who is coming off a 40-14 road win over Shorter. MHU quarterback David Salmon was also accurate, completing 17 of 24 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Salmon, like Raynard, was named his conference’s offensive player of the week. The Lions have finished in the top-4 of the South Atlantic Conference two straight seasons.
News & Notes
- Aggies redshirt junior quarterback Lamar Raynard was the catalyst for the Aggies impressive offense. He set a career high with 321 yards passing, and he set a new school single-game record by completing 86.3 percent (19 of 22) of his passes. He broke the old mark set by Alan Hooker in 1985 when he completed 81.5 percent of his passes (22of 27) against Howard.
- N.C. A&T has played 72 Division II opponents since becoming a Division I-FCS/AA school in 1980. The Aggies are 55-17 in those games since 1980. The last time the Aggies lost to a Division II was against N.C. Central, a 28-27 loss on Oct. 4, 2008 in Charlotte, N.C.
- North Carolina A&T’s 45 points are the most points they have scored against a non-conference FCS opponent since scoring 47 points against Alabama A&M in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Aug. 31, 2014. It marked only the sixth time the Aggies have scored 40 points or more against a non-conference FCS foe. There other 40-point games were vs. Western Carolina (1990), vs. Tennessee State (1997), vs. Jackson State (2001), vs. Jackson State (2002), vs. Alabama A&M (2014) and vs. GWU (2017).
- Offensively the Aggies posted 458 yards including 341 yards passing. It marked the 27th time in the 70-game Rod Broadway era that the Aggies have exceeded 400 yards of offense. The Aggies are 25-2 and have won 19 straight games when the offense producing 400 yards or more.