GREENSBORO - Why isn't Mike Mayhew carrying the load like he
has throughout his career? Over the first three games of the season, it was the
question buzzing around the North Carolina A&T football program about the
senior running back.
No matter how many times head coach Rod Broadway explained
the situation, the questions kept coming. No one wanted to accept that junior
running back Dominique Drake earned the right to start over the preseason MEAC
Offensive Player of the Year. No one wanted to accept that a player on the
brink of breaking the school rushing record was not a starter.
But when Broadway came to A&T, he made it clear that
starting positions are earned in practice. It's not just a cliché for him, and
during the early part of the season he made a believer out of many. Mayhew, who
is the Aggies all-time leader in carries, had just 30 carries in three games
going into Thursday night's game against Morgan State.
Prior to A&T's
21-18 loss to the Bears, Broadway came to the Charlotte native and told him he
was going to get some touches. He then delivered another message.
"I hope you get it," Broadway told him about becoming
A&T's all-time leading rusher.
In Broadway's mind, Mayhew had earned the right to more
carries. This was evident throughout the game. Mayhew ran hard, he ran between
the tackles and he punished would-be tacklers. In the second quarter, four years
of terrific runs, taking on thunderous hits and going through grueling
offseason workouts, it all paid off.
Mayhew took the handoff from quarterback Lewis Kindle and
did what A&T fans have come accustomed to see him doing. He made the first
tackler missed, bounced to the outside, avoided two more tackles before being
stopped for an 8-yard gain to the MSU 10-yard line. The run changed A&T
history as Mayhew broke Maurice Hicks' 11-year old all-time rushing record.
Mayhew snapped the record in style as he earned his 12th
career 100-yard game with 105 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. In fact,
if it were not for Morgan State's last-second theatrics to win the game, Mayhew
would have been Thursday night's hero. Both of his touchdowns came in the
fourth quarter on superb runs.
"'m happy for him," said Broadway. "That's a great milestone
for that young man. He ran the ball hard tonight. He hit downhill a couple of
times and put down his pads and ran like Mike Mayhew is capable of running. I
hope he can continue to keep running like that. We're going to be a good
football team if he keeps running like that the rest of the season."
The way Mayhew reached the milestone may make it even
sweeter for him as his life progresses. Throughout preseason camp he had to
outwork Drake and Ricky Lewis for playing time. Drake's improvement was
apparent, and therefore, he started the first three games of the season. Mayhew
had to earn his opportunities on Thursday, and his perseverance helped him make
history in front of a national television audience on ESPNU.
"I'm always going to remember this experience," said Mayhew.
"This is probably going to be one of the biggest accomplishments I'll ever accomplish
in my life. I'm glad they (my family) were here to witness it."
Mayhew has rushed for 2,882 yards in his career. He will
become the first Aggie and 12th rusher in MEAC history to record
3,000 yards in a career. Even after reaching a significant milestone, it was
still about team. Enough questions asked.
"It feels good," said
Mayhew. "But it would be a better feeling if we could have got the 'W' tonight."