GREENSBORO (September 9, 2017) – Junior running back Marquell Cartwright has a pretty good idea as to why the North Carolina A&T football team has scored 101 points in their first two games. “We’ve got weapons (talented playmakers on offense),” he said. “And when you’ve got that many weapons you’ve got to use them. That’s why our scores keep going up.”
Nine different Aggies caught passes on Monday and Cartwright ran for 121 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries as the Aggies routed Division II Mars Hill 56-0 in the Aggies home opener at Aggie Stadium. Cartwright’s current and high school teammate, quarterback Lamar Raynard, provide the ammunition. He completed 17 of 25 passes for 262 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes.
All five touchdown passes came in the first half, tying a school record set by Alan Hooker in 1985. Three of Raynard’s TD passes went to Elijah Bell. Bell now has five touchdown receptions on the season as he finished Saturday’s game with six catches for 60 yards. Raynard came into the game leading the nation in quarterback efficiency rating and likely did nothing to harm his status. He has thrown 92 straight passes without an interception.
“Elijah was freshman of the year (MEAC) last year, and he’s only getting better. I think Lamar is playing at a pretty good lever right now. If he continues to play at this level, I think we’ll be a good football team.”
There is nice artillery on the defensive side as well. The Aggies have yet to give up a touchdown this season. Senior safety Jeremy Taylor had another solid game with 10 tackles, a forced fumble, recovered fumble and a returned interception for 32 yards. N.C. A&T recorded nine tackles for loss for the second straight week, and for the 40th time in the Broadway era they held an opponent to under 100 yards rushing, improving to 39-1 when that happens. The Aggies (2-0) did surrender 285 yards passing.
“We’ve got to go to work on Monday and try to get better in a lot of areas. When you’re winning with 56 points and finding things to complain about, I guess you’re moving in the right direction in some ways. But it’s so scary the way we play defense at times.”
The Lions (1-1) did put together an impressive first drive, reaching the Aggies 33-yard line before failing to convert a 4th-and 10. N.C. A&T zipped down the field after the turnover on downs, getting into the red zone on a 19-yard completion to sophomore Ron Hunt. A play later the Aggies found themselves with a 2nd-and-2 from the MHU 3. After two unsuccessful pass attempts to Bell on fade routes, Raynard and Bell finally connected a 3-yard TD pass to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead.
Raynard connected with his favorite deep target in Malik Wilson for the Aggies second touchdown as Wilson caught a fabulously thrown deep ball from Raynard for a 53-yard pass-and-catch TD. It is third time in their A&T careers the two have hooked up for a TD pass of 50 yards or more. A Richie Kittles interception set up the Aggies next score.
The Lions advanced to the Aggies 28 before Kittles returned David Solomon’s intercepted pass to the Aggies 35 where two plays later found the very fast Jaquil Capel on a slant pattern that Capel turned into a 66-yard touchdown. Raynard and Bell would connect two more times for touchdown passes to give the Aggies a 35-0 lead. The final touchdown of the half was set up by a 50-yard punt return from senior Khris Gardin.
The Aggies weaponry will have a tough task next week. The Aggies travel to Charlotte to face Division I-FBS Charlotte 49ers (0-2) 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16 at Richardson Stadium.