DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Football coaches want their team to make a positive statement every time they take the field and the North Carolina Central Eagles sent a clear message to everyone with their 23-14 win over Alcorn State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Saturday night.
“It was good to see our guys continue to fight and fight for 60 minutes when they made some big plays on us,” said N.C. Central head football coach Trei Oliver. “Our guys could have started getting glossy-eyed and tucked their tails but they didn’t. They continued to fight and I’m just really proud of them.”
Alcorn State came out swinging and moving the football well. Alcorn State wide receiver Juan Anthony Jr. scored a touchdown on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. That would be all the scoring in the half for the Braves as their following three drives reached Eagle territory, but did not result in points.
“We had to control what we can control and that’s our emotions,” said Oliver. “Our eyes were a little big but we talked about being disciplined, run fits and everything was about us.”
N.C. Central finally put some points on the board with 23 seconds to spare in the half as quarterback Davius Richard rushed six yards for a touchdown.
The second half is where the Eagles showed what they were made of. They opened with a nine-play drive, capped off Richard’s second rushing touchdown.
Second down in the 4th quarter the Eagles defense forced Alcorn State to punt. The Braves punt traveled 43 yards but N.C. Central’s Brandon Codrington returned it 77 yards for the go-ahead score. The Eagles held it down the rest of the way for the 23-14 win.
“The guys watched ESPN this morning and watched all of America pick Alcorn to win it,” said Oliver. “It didn’t matter as long as the people in that locker room believed — it was all good.”
The Eagles are once again on the road this week taking on the Marshall Thundering Herd in Huntington, West Virginia. Marshall is coming off a 59-0 win over Eastern Kentucky.