Three Aggies Earn Weekly Honors
GREENSBORO (September 4, 2017) – The North Carolina A&T football team was greatly rewarded by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for their outstanding play against Gardner-Webb Saturday at Spangler Stadium.
The Aggies defeated the Runnin’ Bulldogs 45-3 in their season opener and thus three players earned weekly honors from the MEAC on Monday. Quarterback Lamar Raynard (6-4, 200, R-JR, High Point, NC) was named offensive player of the week, left tackle Brandon Parker (6-7, 309, R-SR, Kannapolis, NC) was named offensive lineman of the week and punt returner Khris Gardin (5-7, 185, SR, Morganton, NC) claimed special teams player of the week. Gardin also earned honorable mention national player of the week from STATS FCS.
It was a career night for Raynard who completed 19 of 22 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns. He also had an 8-yard rushing touchdown to account for four of the Aggies seven touchdowns against GWU. Raynard completed his first five passes, threw two straight incompletions and then proceeded to complete 13 straight passes on his way to breaking N.C. A&T’s single-game passing percentage record (.863) previously held by Alan Hooker who completed 22 of 27 (.815) against Howard in 1985.
Raynard had the Aggies first 300-yard passing game in six years. It was just the eighth 300-yard passing game in school history. Raynard secured his second career offensive player of the week honor from the conference after winning it after Week 1 last season.
“It is starting not to be a surprise anymore. He was playing like this before he got hurt last season,” said N.C. A&T coach Rod Broadway referring to Raynard’s season-ending injury that sidelined him for the final three games of 2016. “(Quarterback coach) Chris Barnette has really done an outstanding job of getting him ready to do the things we need him to do. And then Lamar has done a good job of bulking up and making himself more durable back there.”
Parker picked up another weekly honor from the conference, the sixth of his career. Parker, the reigning two-time MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year, helped the Aggies register 458 yards of offense. Parker was credited with two knockdown blocks, and he graded out at 85 percent. Not only was Raynard never sacked on Saturday, he also avoided being knocked down thanks to Parker and his offensive line mates.
“Most people are not going to notice how special Brandon is because he never has the ball in his hand, but Brandon is a special ballplayer,” Broadway. “You watch him on film and it stands out to you. This is the second year in a row we have a special player in this program who has a chance to make an impact on the next level. We’re as fortunate to have Brandon as we were to have (Chicago Bear Tarik Cohen).”
Gardin, an All-American by multiple outlets, showed why on Saturday. He returned five punts for 150 yards and an 88-yard touchdown to earn his third career weekly honor from the MEAC. Gardin has five career punt returns for touchdowns. He is 295 yards away from breaking the NCAA FCS record for career punt return yards. If he breaks the record he will also be breaking a MEAC record because the NCAA record is held by Hampton’s Marquay McDaniel (1,668, 2002-05).
Gardin has returned 85 punts in his career for an average 16.2 yards. That currently ranks him seventh all-time in NCAA history. Gardin also had an 80-yard punt return on Saturday, but it was called back due to a penalty.
“We almost pulled him once we had the big lead,” said Broadway. “We decided to let him return one more, and that’s when he broke the long touchdown. He has a chance to do something special this year, and I hope he gets there.”
The Aggies return to Aggie Stadium for their 2017 home opener 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9 against Mars Hill. Follow Aggies Football on Twitter and Instagram (@ncat_football). Follow Aggie Athletics on Facebook and Instagram (@ncatathletics) and Twitter (@ncataggies).