GREENSBORO (September 3, 2016) – There was great anticipation about the 2016 North Carolina A&T football season because many wanted to know what the Aggies follow-up act would look like coming off one of the best season’s in program history.
The truth is, after the Aggies 62-0 drubbing of Division II Saint Augustine’s Saturday night at Aggie Stadium, that anticipation still exist. The Falcons (0-1) were so overmatched it is hard to gauge whether there is an encore performance of 2015 coming in 2016.
“I’m not sure what we learned from this (game) as far as our team is concerned other than the fact that we did what we set out to do and that’s dominate. And we should because we’re a level above them, so we should be able to compete and beat those guys pretty good,” said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway after seeing his team score 40 or more points against a Division II opponent for the fourth straight time.
There was some indication that the Aggies are ready to compete for another MEAC title. Broadway thought his team played a cleaner game than it did in the 2015 season opener in terms of execution and effort, even as the Aggies came away with a 61-7 win over Division II Shaw in that one.
N.C. A&T’s passing game was effective. Sophomore starting quarterback Lamar Raynard connected on 17 of his 21 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore backup Kylil Carter was 5-fo-7 for 70 yards and a touchdown and senior Oluwafemi Bamiro threw his first career touchdown pass, an 8-yarder to Deshaun McFadden. If Broadway had his druthers, his senior playmaking All-American running back Tarik Cohen would have received more touches. With the Falcons bringing their safety closer to the line of scrimmage, however, he understood why the Aggies had to throw it 29 times.
Cohen did get enough touches to break another school record. Cohen rushed for 44 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. His two touchdowns gave him 42 for his career, leap frogging him past Stoney Polite’s 41 for the new school record. Cohen has 40 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in his career. All 41 of Polite’s touchdowns were rushing touchdowns, therefore, he still owns the rushing touchdown record, one ahead of Cohen.
“I feel like I got enough touches,” said Cohen. “I had two touchdowns. I know the team wants to have me for the rest of the season, so we don’t want any stupid injuries getting in the way of that.”
While Cohen didn’t have his normal standout game, the N.C. A&T defense was true to form. They held the Falcons to 159 yards of offense and forced four turnovers. All four of those turnovers led to touchdowns as the Aggies scored nine TD’s on the day.
In fact, the Falcons turned the ball over on each of their first two possessions. Junior Joshua Patrick caused the first mishap by blitzing SAU quarterback Darryl Johnson from the outside. Patrick rushed the passer unblocked, sacked Johnson, and forced the ball out of his hands. Sophomore Julius Reynolds fell on it at the SAU 18-yard line. Three plays later, Cohen sprinted through a huge hole to score the Aggies first touchdown.
On SAU’s next possession, Johnson connected with Sam Boyd across the middle. It was a bad place for him to be as senior Angelo Keyes came running full speed toward Boyd, collided with him and forced the fumble. Senior Malik Hampton-Prioleau fell on the football, leading to Raynard finding Angelo’s little brother Denzel Keyes on a diving 5-yard touchdown reception for a 14-0 Aggies lead.
“It’s been two weeks since we really competed against each other but I thought the guys were focused and we were able to make plays,” said Broadway. “We didn’t get anybody hurt, so that was big for us too.”
It is big because the Aggies will be the underdog playing a team at a higher level next week when it faces Division I-FBS Kent State 6 p.m., Saturday at Dix Stadium.