GREENSBORO – Lewis Kindle played the part of senior quarterback and leader in North Carolina A&T’s 23-10 win over Elon Saturday night at Aggie Stadium Saturday night in the Aggies’ home opener.
His leadership was never more apparent than when the Aggies faced a 3rd-and-9 from the A&T 34-yard line with 5:35 remaining in the game. Elon’s offense had picked up some momentum in the second half and had the Aggies two-score lead was now down to 16-10. A failure on third down would have given the Phoenix a little more than five minutes to score and try to take the lead late in the game.
Instead, Kindle brought his team out of a timeout, remained patient in the pocket and led a diving Desmond Lawrence beautifully on a drag route for a 27-yard gain and a first down that all but sealed the Phoenix’s fate.
In what was their final drive of the game, the Aggies went on to eat up four more minutes off the clock as Dominique Drake ended the drive on a 1-yard touchdown to put the Aggies ahead by two scores with 1:22 remaining in the game.
“It was good to be back,” said Kindle after serving a one-game suspension. “It was a little different being back in there. I had to knock some butterflies off at the beginning of the game.”
Kindle finished with 288 yards passing and one touchdown on 20-for-38 passing. But his start was somewhat rocky. He had a first half fumble and was just 10-for-22 passing over the first 30 minutes of the game.
But the game-deciding drive went 80 yards in 13 plays and devoured more than six minutes off the fourth-quarter clock, and when the Aggies needed Kindle to be clutch, he was. He was 4-for-5 on the drive, including two third-down completions to Desmond Lawrence, who finished with 10 catches for 148 yards.
“I just wanted to execute the game plan that was given,” said Kindle. “They’ve been preaching to us all week, so I knew if we execute what the coaches give us, we would be successful.”
The Aggies have enjoyed a lot of success lately. The win was their sixth straight dating back to last season. A&T’s win over Elon also marked the first time in 20 years the Aggies have defeated two SoCon teams in the same season.
A&T’s defense has also gone 26 straight quarters without given up a rushing touchdown and Saturday marked the seventh straight game a team failed to rush for more than100 yards against the Aggies. Sophomore Daniel Pinnix led the Aggies defense with seven tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.
“The defense helped us out a lot,” said Kindle. “They kept us in pretty good field position, giving us the ball back. We had a lot of drives today.”
A&T’s defense was stellar throughout most of the game, making Elon’s running game useless. After a scoreless first quarter, A&T got on the board with a 32-yard field goal from Cody Jones.
Just minutes later, Lewis threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Demonta Brown for Brown’s first career touchdown to give the Aggies the 10-0 lead with 6:58 remaining in the second quarter.
A&T used a 38-yard field goal from Jones to take a 13-3 advantage into halftime. Jones hit his third field goal of the game, a 33-yarder, to give A&T its biggest lead of the game at 16-3 with 7:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Elon didn’t go away. With 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Mike Quinn threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Tracey Coppedge to cut A&T’s lead to 16-10.
“To get off to a 2-0 start is a big positive step for this football team,” said A&T head coach Rod Broadway about the Aggies first 2-0 start in four years. “It’s a big deal, but it’s no big deal. Now that we’ve got two non-conference games out of the way, we need to focus and go to work on Monday and try to get ready for Howard.”
The Aggies do not play next week, but will face Howard Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m., at Aggie Stadium. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.