AGGIES PUT UP STRONG DEFENSE
BALTIMORE - North Carolina A&T used a stingy defense, three blocked field goals and big running plays from Mike Mayhew to earn a 24-3 conference win over Morgan State at Hughes Stadium on Saturday.
The Aggies defense held Morgan State to 33 yards rushing, while Mayhew finished with a career-high 233 yards rushing and one touchdown. It was their first win over Morgan State in six years and their first win at Hughes Stadium since 2003. The win also marked the Aggies (2-2, 1-0 MEAC) first road win since beating Howard in Washington, D.C., two years ago.
"All wins our big wins at this stage in our program," said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway. "This is the first time in a long time we've defeated Morgan, so it's going to be a nice bus ride home. But we've got to continue to get better. We missed out on a lot of opportunities today."
In a twist of irony, Morgan State's inability to take advantage of opportunities to score touchdowns early allowed N.C. A&T to gain some confidence defensively. On the game's first play, a Lewis Kindle interception gave the Bears (2-3, 1-1) the ball at the Aggies 16-yard line.
The Bears minus-10-yard drive was highlighted by a Travis Crosby sack. Ervin Gonzalez booted a 43-yard field goal to give the Bears a 3-0 lead. Morgan State's good field position would be a trend that would continue throughout the first quarter. Three of the Bears first four drives started in Aggies territory. The one drive that did not start in Aggies territory, started at the Bears 48 after a Kindle fumble.
Each MSU good fortune was met with an Aggies rebuff. Mayhew finally turned the field position in N.C. A&T's favor late in the first quarter. A 12-yard run helped the N.C. A&T move the ball from in front of its own goal line. Mayhew then sprinted down the sideline for a 78-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career.
"Once I got off the bus today, I was feeling it," said Mayhew. "I was in that zone. My offensive line stepped up today. (Offensive line coach Keith Wagner) told us all week it was time for a 100-yard game. We've been slacking the first three games, so I'm glad we got it going today."
Saturday marked Mayhew's second career 200-yard performance. His showing also put him 17 yards shy of the 2,000-yard mark for his career. But it was the Aggies defense that allowed the Aggies to keep a comfortable lead.
After stopping the Bears on 4th-and-1 from the Aggies 47 to open the second quarter, Jose Garcia-Camacho hit a 35-yard field goal to give the Aggies a 10-3 lead. Morgan State answered by putting together its best drive of the game, a 9-play, 50-yard march that led to a 41-yard field goal attempt.
But a bobbled snap led to Terence Webb blocking the kick. With the Aggies defense playing so well, the game was put away on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Kindle to Larry Raper to close out the first half.
"We started the game in the hole with an interception and the defense held them to three," said Broadway. "I thought that set the tone. I think we gave up one 3rd down-and-14 today, but overall we were great on third down."
Senior Justin Ferrell had two blocked kicks and an interception. Brandon Hover finished with 10 tackles and a 31-yard interception return. N.C. A&T's last two wins over Morgan State has included a 200-yard rusher. Brandon Sweeney ran for 205 yards in 2005.
The Aggies return home next week to host Bethune-Cookman at 1:30 p.m.