GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T’s impressive 59-12 Homecoming win over Virginia University of Lynchburg was as much about beating the Dragons as it was about trying to become a better football team over the three remaining games in 2013.
“When you’re playing in game like this the thing you’re trying to do is get better individually,” said A&T head coach Rod Broadway. “That’s what we’re trying to get our guys to see.”
There were some outstanding individual performances on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that may give the Aggies a needed spark as the season comes to an end. Fifth-year senior quarterback Lewis Kindle completed 17 of 23 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think Lewis Kindle gives us what we need to win,” said Broadway. “He gets blamed a lot of times for our performance when a lot of times it’s not on him.”
Freshman running back Tarik Cohen continued his push toward becoming the first Aggie freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Ninety-eight of Cohen’s 130 rushing yards on Saturday came in the second half. He also scored on a 22-yard touchdown run. Backup freshman center Darriel Mack showcased the Aggies future. He started the second half to spell starter Ronald Canty and helped clear the way for some of Cohen’s runs. Senior running back Ricky Lewis scored twice on the ground as the Aggies ended the day with 452 yards of offense.
While the offense was gaining confidence, the Aggies defense continued its dominance. The Aggies forced seven VUL turnovers and scored 31 points off of those turnovers. A&T held the Dragons to 178 yards of offense, marking the second straight week the Aggies defense did not allow more than 200 yards.
Senior middle linebacker Brian Houston led the way with eight tackles and senior weak side linebacker D’Vonte Grant recovered three VUL fumbles.
The Aggies defense did let down a few times on Saturday. After a miscommunication between Kindle and Cohen on a toss sweep led to a fumble and recovery by the Dragons on the Aggies’ first drive, VUL quarterback Emmanuel Yeager found a wide open Devon Stewart (a former A&T player) going across the middle of the football field for a 54-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead. A&T responded with 38 unanswered points and scored touchdowns on their next three drives following the VUL touchdown.
The Aggies took a 28-6 lead after senior cornerback D’Vonte Graham intercepted a Yeager pass at the A&T 2-yard line and returned it 28 yards. Nine plays later, Lewis scored from seven yards out to give A&T a 28-6 lead with 4:43 remaining in the first half. On the Dragons’ next drive, Grant stripped Stewart of the football after Stewart gained enough yards for a first down on a 4th-and-10. After taking the ball from Stewart, Grant lateraled it back to Graham who returned it to the Aggies 49 with 3:30 remaining in the first half.
The turnover led to a 23-yard field goal by freshman kicker Cody Jones as the Aggies went into the locker room with a 31-6 halftime lead.
“We were better than they were,” said Broadway. “But it’s always nice to win. It doesn’t matter if it is homecoming or what, a win’s a win. I’m proud of my guys. They stayed focused and played well enough to win.”
Broadway has won all three homecomings he has been a part of as the Aggies head coach. A&T now has a 16-16 homecoming record at Aggie Stadium. A&T will return to conference play next week as it heads to Baltimore to face Morgan State, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. The Aggies hope the good that came from seeing positive things happen against VUL will lead to a great close to the season.
“I still think we made way too many mistakes,” said Broadway. “There are some things that we need to clean up, and we definitely need to get a lot better in a lot of areas. We were able to recognize those things and still get the win. That’s good.”