Usually in events with a magnitude of potential excitement a team can often either step up to the plate or fold quicker than Japanese origami. As of late it seems like the bigger the stage, the bigger the surprise when it comes to HBCU's.
When you talk MEAC football, there is no real need to look any further than South Carolina State University. The Bulldogs have been the top dog in the conference for most of the past eight years. In fact if they aren't the top dog during that time, they are sniffing at the possibility of leading or taking the lead.
A couple of years ago they looked almost unbeatable as they had amassed a talent pool that showcased pure dominance. Well things have started to change in the MEAC and now upstarts like Howard, Norfolk State, and North Carolina Central have started to find their way to victories in the conference.
This past Saturday, the Circle City Classic was supposed to be a celebratory win for the Bulldogs who have all but decimated the North Carolina Central University Eagles the past few contests. Even though last years game was a thriller. If you watched closely, the Eagles were getting pummelled on defense and the physical play of the Bulldogs was the difference in the game.
This year was completely different. The Bulldogs came out and essentially were more bark than bite. They committed careless turnovers and appeared to be a tired football team. The questions of the ability to play physical were looming over the Eagles heads yet they answered those questions with one of the mightiest smacks in the face that has ever been delivered by a Henry Frazier coached team.
Let's keep it real... NCCU hasn't been considered a physical football team in quite a while. You could even argue that most of their winning teams were finesse teams and that when things got physical, they usually got missing. This isn't true in every situation for this team, but it will hold true ninety percent of the time.
The Bulldogs never seemed to get it in gear during the game on Saturday. They opened up the game with a huge drive that started rather impressively as their quarterback Richard Cue put on a dazzling display of athleticism. Cue was running and throwing the ball all over the place the first drive. Penalties and good defense held S.C. State to a field goal and that set the tone for the rest of the game for the Eagles.
NCCU came back and missed a field goal of their own, but a couple of S.C. State turnovers in their own territory gave the Eagles a chance to finally get on the board with a field goal that was essentially needed for the confidence of Oleg Parent who had missed most of his attempts this season for the Eagles.
The second quarter, NCCU hit it's stride and just smacked the Bulldogs in the mouth. The Eagles scored thirty points in the second quarter all but putting the game away. SC State had a couple of big plays from converted defensive back Julius Pendegrass, but outside of that the Eagles had the Bulldogs fenced in.
The second quarter charge was lead by Eagle running backs Arthur Goforth and Andre Clark. The two-headed monster at running back was fun to watch. The offensive line was opening holes and the runners were hitting them and then making the defense pay by breaking tackles and in some cases breaking long runs.
The second half wasn't quite as exciting, but it was a half of efficient football. NCCU held its own as Jordan Reid made good decisions and kept the Eagles offense in tact. The Eagles were able to preserve the win 40 - 10 over the Bulldogs of SC State.
The win was big for the Eagles as they now appear to be soaring into first place in the MEAC. Things don't get any easier though as they will be the Homecoming dish for the Bears of Morgan State.