WASHINGTON, D.C. - It was clear from Saturday afternoon's cliffhanger at Greene Stadium that North Carolina A&T and Howard are no longer pushovers in MEAC football. Both teams put on a show for Howard's homecoming crowd of 7,908 will not soon forget.
Aggies quarterback Lewis Kindle was stopped at the 1-yard line in overtime to give Howard the 35-28 win. The loss keeps the Aggies (4-3, 3-1 MEAC) a half game behind Norfolk State for the conference lead as the two teams prepare for a showdown next week in Norfolk, Va. The Bison improved 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference.
"It was a heckuva game, too bad we were on the wrong end of the score," said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway. "We didn't play as well as we could have played or should have played, and you see we lost a close one."
After an 82-yard kickoff by Howard's Aquanius Freeman midway through the fourth quarter, N.C. A&T tied the game at 28 on a 3-yard Ricky Lewis touchdown that was set up by a 20-yard completion to Lewis.
Chris Neal put the Aggies in perfect position to win the game in regulation when he punched the ball out of the arms Howard running back Andra Williams. Brandon Hover recovered the ball at the Aggies 49 with 3:51 remaining. But on 3rd-and-1 from the Bison 43, Howard linebacker Keith Pough buried Mike Mayhew for a four-yard loss, setting up the overtime period.
N.C. A&T won the toss and elected to let the Bison have the ball first. By rule, the ball was placed on the Aggies 25. Howard used five plays and a 3-yard touchdown run by Terrance Lefall to take a one touchdown lead. Lefall finished with 96 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.
His score put the Aggies in a situation where they had to score to continue the game. That became a strong possibility when Kindle completed an 11-yard pass to a wide open Wallace Miles at the Howard 3 on 3rd-and-9.
The Aggies then turned to their bread-and-butter play with fullback Devin Moore dropping out into the flats. Moore caught four passes on the day using that play, but on N.C. A&T's 1st-and-goal, Howard was waiting for it. Mayhew was thrown for a 1-yard loss on second down, and Kindle threw an incomplete pass on third down.
Faced with no other option but to score, Kindle dropped back in the pocket before taking off on a quarterback draw. It appeared he had a lane to the end zone, but Sackie Kerkulah met him at the goal line and prevented the game-tying score.
"We didn't play very good football today," said Broadway. "Our special teams were not at their best today. We had an 11-yard punt that led to a score and we had a kickoff return that led to another touchdown."
Howard receiver Willie Carter capitalized on the 11-yard punt in the first half as he scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass to end a drive that only went 49 yards thanks to the kick. The score helped the Bison take a 13-0 halftime lead.
Carter and his freshman quarterback Greg McGhee had a productive day. McGhee was 21-for-35, had 242 yards passing and two touchdowns. Seven of those completions went to Carter for 107 yards. The two also hooked up on a two-point conversion.
N.C. A&T scored the first 14 points out of the locker room thanks in part to a blocked punt by D'Vonte Grant that gave the Aggies the ball at the Howard 20. One play later, Kindle lofted a pass over a Howard defender and into the arms of Miles to give the Aggies a 14-13. The two teams would trade the lead throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Mayhew led the Aggies with 115 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Kindle threw for 152 yards on 13-for-25 passing with an interception and a touchdown. Safety Travis Crosby had 16 tackles, two tackles for loss and he broke up a pass.