No. 19 North Carolina A&T (0-0, 0-0 MEAC) vs. No. 21 Elon (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
Date: August 31, 2019
Time: 6 p.m. EST
City/Venue: Greensboro, N.C./BB&T Stadium (21,500)
Series: A&T leads, 7-4
TV: ESPN 3 (Spencer Turkin, play-by-play; Stan Lewter, analyst)
ESPN Triad Radio: Donal Ware (play-by-play); Al Swann (analyst)
600 AM/101.5 FM Winston-Salem
1320 AM/93.7 FM Greensboro
1230 AM/104.9 FM High Point
920 AM/104.5 FM Burlington
1200 AM/95.1 FM Burlington
The Matchup: Football is back in Aggieland and for the third straight year the Aggies will get a tough FCS opponent to open the season. This year’s season-opener will be against fellow Piedmont school, Elon University. The Phoenix have been to the playoffs the past two seasons despite playing in what many believe is the best conference in the FCS, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The conference has compiled six national championships and 25 national semifinal appearance.
Even though the Aggies and the Phoenix play in two different conferences, there are a few similarities between the two teams other than they both play in the Piedmont area. Last season, the Aggies promoted their defensive coordinator Sam Washington to head coach after he served seven years under legendary coach Rod Broadway. Washington went on to lead the Aggies to a 10-2 record, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship, the HBCU national title and a Celebration Bowl victory. The Phoenix hope to have similar success after promoting their defensive coordinator – Tony Trisciani – to head coach after Curt Cignetti resigned to become the head coach at James Madison prior to the 2019 season.
Both starting quarterbacks are coming off major injuries. Aggies QB Kylil Carter is back after major injuries from a car accident sidelined him for the Celebration Bowl last season. Carter played a big role for the Aggies last season coming off the bench to lead the Aggies to a win over East Carolina and earning a win in a start at Savannah State.
Elon quarterback Davis Cheek is coming off a season-ending knee injury. He is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the CAA. Cheek passed for 1,018 yards and four TD’s in six games before being injured on Oct. 13. He was rookie of the year in the CAA in 2017.
News and Notes:
- N.C. A&T will open at BB&T Stadium for the 39th time. They have won their home opener four straight seasons and seven out of the last eight years. They are opening a season at home for the first time since 2016 when they opened the year with a 62-0 win over St. Augustine’s.
- Elijah Bell’s 2019 season could see him establish himself as the greatest receiver in Aggies history. He is 177 yards shy of becoming the Aggies all-time leading receiver passing Herbert Harbison. He went on to close the season with two 100-yard receiving games. Bell is 26 receptions shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader in catches passing Wallace Miles and Harbison. After a TD catch in the Celebration Bowl in 2018, Bell needs one TD catch to become A&T’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns.
- The Aggies and the Phoenix will battle each other for the first time since the 2015 season. The two teams were scheduled to play four straight years with the final game coming in 2016 but the Aggies were able to secure a guaranteed game against the University of Tulane postponing the final game until the 2019 season.
- A&T is 21-6 in non-conference play since the 2012 season. Amongst the wins is a victory over Appalachian State, three wins over Elon, three wins over FBS schools and a win over FCS ranked opponents in Jacksonville State, Alcorn State and Grambling State. Even some of the losses have been eye-catching with two losses to Coastal Carolina who is now an FBS institution. One of those losses to Coastal was by only one point. Also, during that time, the Aggies had losses to FBS schools UNC and Tulsa and a playoff loss to Richmond.
- The Aggies have ranked in the top-10 in total defense nationally six times in the past eight seasons. They were top-10 in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Aggies were ranked third nationally in total defense in 2018.