NORFOLK, Va. – Two teams with undefeated MEAC records meet this Saturday as Norfolk State (2-3, 2-0 MEAC) hosts North Carolina A&T (3-1, 1-0) at Dick Price Stadium. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Both teams have won two in a row coming into the game. This contest has been designated Education Appreciation Day, sponsored by the Virginia Lottery.
WGH Star 1310 AM is in its second season as the flagship network for NSU football and basketball games. Ross Gordon will handle the play-by-play duties and Maguell Davis will serve as color commentator. The game can also be heard online at http://www.star1310.com.
Cheer the Spartan football players and coaches as they make their way to the locker room on Saturday! The Spartan Walk begins at 11:45 a.m. and begins in front of the Woods Science Building, continues into the street in front of Echols Hall and winds underneath DIck Price Stadium before culminating at GIll Gym.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Norfolk State improved to 2-0 in the MEAC in dramatic fashion last Saturday, scoring with 41 seconds left to beat Howard, 15-12, at Greene Stadium in Washington, D.C. The Spartans trailed 12-0 midway through the third quarter, but got two touchdown passes from Greg Hankerson Jr., including the winning 6-yarder to DeAndre Sangster in the game’s final minute, to remain unbeaten in conference play. It marks the third straight season that NSU has begun MEAC play at 2-0.
Hankerson also threw a 49-yard TD pass to Isaac White in the third quarter. Hankerson completed 24 of 36 passes for a career-high 294 yards and two scores. White caught nine passes for 145 yards and a score, while Sangster caught eight passes for 91 yards and a TD.
The NSU defense was strong throughout, allowing season lows of 12 points and 185 total yards. Linebacker Kyle Archie had a career day, with 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Linebacker Deon King and defensive lineman Walter Brantley IV both added two tackles for lost yardage.
Hankerson’s big day moves him into second place in the MEAC in passing yards, with 927 in five games. He has thrown six touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Four NSU players have at least 10 receptions this season, led by Sangster (18 catches, 236 yards), White (15-232), Quinta Funderburk (11-164) and Gerard Johnson (11-107).
King continues to lead the MEAC and ranks third nationally with 70 total tackles (14.0 per game). Cornerback Sandy Chapmangrabbed his team-leading second interception of the year last week, which ended Howard’s last scoring opportunity. Chapman, who also has one fumble recovery this year, has a team-high three takeaways for the season.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
North Carolina A&T improved to 3-1 on the season, 1-0 in MEAC play, with a 45-31 win at Hampton last Saturday. The Aggies led 31-14 at halftime, only to see Hampton rally to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. The Aggies, though, scored the game’s final 14 points to win their MEAC opener. Running back Tarik Cohen ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns, but the big star was Khris Gardin. He returned four punts for 203 yards, including the go-ahead 71-yard touchdown with 5:56 left. A&T intercepted Hampton quarterback David Watford on the game’s next possession, and Cohen scored on a 2-yard run three plays later to put the game away.
Hampton actually outgained N.C. A&T by a wide margin, 431-187. The Aggies did force a pair of turnovers and benefited from a big edge in special teams.
Cohen, the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of the Year, has lived up to his reputation with a conference-leading 378 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Quarterbacks Lamar Raynard and Kwashaun Quick have combined for five touchdown passes, but the Aggies average just 123.8 passing yards per contest. Denzel Keyes (237 receiving yards) has three of A&T’s five receiving TDs.
N.C. A&T was voted the preseason MEAC favorite and was one of five teams that tied for first place in the conference last season.
• This will be the team’s first meeting since 2012, a 30-9 N.C. A&T win in Greensboro, N.C.
• The teams’ last matchup in Norfolk came in 2011, when NSU won 14-10 en route to the MEAC title.
• The Aggies hold a 27-11 all-time edge in the series. The teams did not play in 2013 and 2014 due to the league’s unbalanced schedule.
QUICK HITS FROM HOWARD
A few notes from last Saturday’s win over Howard:
• QB Greg Hankerson Jr. passed for a season-high 294 yards.
• NSU rushed for a season-low minus-17 yards.
• WR DeAndre Sangster had a career-high eight catches.
• LB Kyle Archie (10 tackles, 3.5 TFL) set new career highs in tackles and TFL, while DE Chris Lee matched his career high with seven tackles.
• The 12 points and 187 total yards are season lows for an NSU opponent.
• NSU trailed 2-0 at halftime and has now trailed at the half in all five of its games.
• The Spartans surrendered a season-high seven sacks against Howard, which had 0 coming into the game.
OFF TO AN AUSPICIOUS START
NSU is off to a 2-0 MEAC start for the third straight season, but the Spartans failed to get to 3-0 in either of the previous two years. The Spartans’ last 3-0 MEAC start came in 2011, when they won the MEAC title.
SUCCESS THROUGH THE AIR
QB Greg Hankerson Jr. passed for 294 yards at Howard, the second-most by a MEAC player so far this season. In fact, his 294 yards mark just the fourth time in the last three seasons that an NSU quarterback has thrown for 200 yards in a game. Terrance Ervin did it three times last year, and no Spartan achieved the feat in 2013.
Hankerson now ranks second in the MEAC in passing yards, at 185.4 per game.
GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK
Senior WR Isaac White, who missed the first two games for academic reasons, has picked up where he left off from an All-MEAC second-team junior season in 2014. White has 15 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his three games this year. After catching three passes against both Marshall and Hampton, White broke out with nine catches for 145 yards and one touchdown (plus a two-point conversion) at Howard. Those marks are just shy of his career bests of 10 catches for 150 yards set last year against Hampton. White has caught a touchdown in two straight games.
White was a second-team All-MEAC selection in 2014 after leading the MEAC in total receiving yards (664) and TD catches (7). He was a preseason All-MEAC first-team pick this year.
Originally posted on NSUSpartans.com | Used with permission