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NEWS

Webb Leads JSU to Comeback Win

MONTGOMERY – It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Jacksonville State senior quarterback Zion Webb overcame a slow start and then orchestrated a second half comeback to lead the Gamecocks to a 42-17 win over Stephen F. Austin the eighth FCS Kickoff at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

JSU (1-0) scored 35 unanswered points to give head coach Rich Rodriguez the win in his Gamecocks coaching debut.

Webb finished with 219 total yards and three rushing touchdowns in the win. He completed his final eight passes and finished 9-for-16 for 160 yards through the air. He ran the ball 11 times for 54 yards and career-high three TDs.

The game was stopped by a weather delay with 13:16 left in the fourth quarter, when rain and lightning hit the area at 5:33 p.m. (CT). The game was officially called at 7:19 p.m. (CT).

“After suspending play because of lightning with 13:18 in the fourth quarter with Jacksonville State leading 42-17 over Stephen F Austin, it was determined that the game could not be resumed without significant risk to the health and safety of the student athletes,” according to the A-Sun Conference. “Per NCAA rules 3-3-3c(2) and with both institutions in complete agreement, the game was ended with the final score 42-17.

Trailing 17-7 with 1:56 left in the first half, JSU scored two quick touchdowns to take 21-17 halftime lead.

Senior running back Matt LaRoche scored on an 8-yard run to close the gap to 17-14. Webb set up the score with a 73-yard pass to junior wide receiver Sterling Galban to give the Gamecocks a first-and-goal at the SFA 8-yard line.

The JSU defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession putting the ball back in the hands of Webb, who marched the team 49 yards for the go-ahead score. Webb capped the with a 4-yard TD run to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the game at 21-17.

The Gamecocks scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to increase the lead to 35-17.

Webb capped an 82-yard drive with a 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal to give JSU a 28-17 lead with 8:10 left in the third quarter.

Senior safety Deco Wilson recorded his first career interception to set the up the next score.

Webb capped the 52-yard drive with a 4-yard quarterback keeper to push the lead to 35-17.

After setting up a pair of touchdowns with turnovers, the JSU defense got a touchdown of its own when linebacker Cole Fuller recovered a fumble in the end zone with 3:16 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 42-17.

Stephen F. Austin (0-1) took advantage of a pair of early JSU turnovers to take a 17-7 lead.

Webb struggled early on for the Gamecocks with two turnovers in the first four possessions.

The Lumberjacks took advantage of the miscues.

SFA senior quarterback Trae Self completed a 1-yard TD pass to junior wide receiver Darryle Simmons on a fourth-and-goal to give the Lumberjacks a 7-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter.

JSU answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive, capped by running back Pat Jackson’s 1-yard to tie the game at 7-7.

Self hooked up with senior wide receiver Xavier Gipson on a 50-yard scoring strike to give SFA a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Chris Campos’ 36-yard field goal pushed the lead to 17-7 with 6:33 left in the first half.

2022 FCS Kickoff Final Stats >

 

 

NEWS

Ninth Annual Camellia Bowl Set for December 27

Bowl Game to be Part of 100th Season of Historic Cramton Bowl

MONTGOMERY – The ninth annual Camellia Bowl will be played on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. CT (noon ET) at the historic Cramton Bowl, which will celebrate its 100th birthday during the 2022 college football season. The Camellia Bowl and City of Montgomery have multiple events planned to celebrate the bowl and iconic stadium’s centennial anniversary,

“We are thrilled to host the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery for the ninth year,” executive director Johnny Williams said. “We have had some very exciting games and we hope this year will continue that tradition as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cramton Bowl, which will be a historic event itself.”

The Camellia Bowl will air on ESPN and match up teams from the Sun Belt Conference, the Mid-American Conference and Conference USA.

Seven of the first eight games have been decided by eight points or less, including the inaugural Camellia Bowl in 2014 when Bowling Green defeated South Alabama 33-28. Last year, Georgia State defeated Ball State as the two teams combined for 71 points in the highest-scoring Camellia Bowl to date.

In addition to the postseason Camellia Bowl, Montgomery will host two preseason kickoff games this season.Jacksonville State will meet Stephen F. Austin in the 9th FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN – the fifth FCS Kickoff game played at historic Cramton Bowl. Also, Tuskegee and Fort Valley State will square off in the second annual Boeing Red Tails Classic on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU. Fort Valley State defeated Tuskegee in last year’s inaugural game, which was created with ESPN Events to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

 

CAMELLIA BOWL ALL-TIME RESULTS:

Date                       Result                                                 

Dec. 20, 2014      Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28

Dec. 19, 2015      Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29

Dec. 17, 2016      Appalachian State 31, Toledo 28

Dec. 16, 2017      Middle Tennessee 35, Arkansas St. 30

Dec. 15, 2018      Georgia Southern 23, E. Michigan 21

Dec. 21, 2019      Arkansas St. 34, FIU 26

Dec. 25, 2020      Buffalo 17, Marshall 10

Dec. 25, 2021      Georgia State 51, Ball State 20

 

FCS KICKOFF ALL-TIME RESULTS:

Date                       Result 

Aug. 23, 2014      Eastern Washington 56, Sam Houston State 35 (Cheney, Washington)

Aug, 29, 2015      Montana State 38, North Dakota State 35 (Missoula, Montana)

Aug. 27, 2016      North Dakota State 24, Charleston Southern 17 (Fargo, ND)

Aug, 26, 2017      Jacksonville State 27, Chattanooga 13 (Montgomery)

Aug. 25, 2018      North Carolina A&T 20, Jacksonville State 17 (Montgomery)

Aug. 26, 2019      Youngstown State 45, Samford 20 (Montgomery)

Aug. 29, 2020      Central Arkansas 24, Austin Peay 17 (Montgomery)

NEWS

CENTRAL ARKANSAS USES LATE TD TO WIN GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF

MONTGOMERY – Central Arkansas overcame a pair of deficits, including on the final minute to defeat Austin Peay 24-17 in the seventh annual Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff at Cramton Bowl.

UCA junior quarterback Breylin Smith threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Lujuan Winningham on a fade pattern with 34 seconds left in the game to lift the Bears to the come-from-behind win in the first game of the 2020 college football season. A two-point conversion pass from Smith to tight end Sam Camargo handed the Bears their second come-from-behind win in two years.

No. 11 Central Arkansas marched 68 yards in six plays in just over a minute for the winning score.

Freshman defensive back Tamaurain sealed the win with an interception at the UCA 6-yard line as time expired.

The Bears beat the Governors in similar fashion on the road in 2019, with Smith hitting Winningham with touchdown passes twice in the fourth quarter and cornerback Robert Rochell capping a 24-16 win with an interception in the final seconds.

Austin Peay (0-1) had taken a 17-16 lead when quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall scored on  1-yard run with 1:40 left on the clock.

Central Arkansas trailed 10-0 in the second quarter, but reeled off 17 straight points to take is first lead on its opening possession of the third quarter.

Austin Peay scored on the very first play of the college football season when freshman running back C.J. Evans raced 75 yards up the west sideline for a touchdown.

“We wanted to come and start fast and C.J. did that,” APSU first-year head coach Marquas Lovings said. “On the first play of the game, he takes it 75 yards down the sideline. It was the first carry in his collegiate career. He will always remember scoring on his first collegiate rushing attempt and scoring the first touchdown of the 2020 college football season.”

APSU kicker Grant Paulette booted a 28-yard field early in the second quarter to take a 10-0 lead.

Central Arkansas got on the board when Ray Hayden hit a 30-yard field to cut the lead to 10-3 with 7:37 left in the half.

The Bears were back in business on their next possession following a botched snap on the punt. The 27-yard loss set UCA up with a first down at the Governors 11-yard line, but three plays only netted three yards and Hayden added 27-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 10-6 with 3:41 left.

On the next possession, Oatsvall lost a fumble at the 44-yard line, which was recovered by Deandre Lamont at the Govs 27-yard line. On the very next play, Smith was intercepted in the end zone by Nathan Page.

“Boy, wasn’t that like last year?’ said UCA head coach Nathan Brown. “At the end of the day, we found our two horses, Tyler (Hudson) and Lujuan made big plays in the end. Any time you get a win, that’s a big win. It’s hard to win a Division I football game, regardless of who you’re playing.

“So tonight was a great night. You get a chance to play in front of probably the biggest audience to ever watch a UCA football game. And to win in the fashion we did. We gave them a show. We weren’t pretty but I guarantee it was fun to watch. Our big players made plays when it mattered.”

Central Arkansas took its first lead of the game on the first possession of the third quarter. Kierre Crossley accounted for all 54 yards on the ground in the three-play drive. He ran for 17 yards on the first play and followed up with a 5-yard run. On second and five, Crossley burst up the middle a scored on a 34-yard touchdown run. Hayden’s extra point made 16-10.

Crossley led all rushers with 110 yards (13 carries) and one touchdown.

Evans added 98 yards (10 carries) one TD in collegiate debut for the Governors.

Smith completed 26 of 49 passes for 283 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Winningham caught six passes for 86 yards and one TD for the Bears.

Oatsvall completed 14 of 31 passes for 181 yards and one interception. He also ran for 37 yards and one TD.  Oatsvall also punted seven times (267 yards) for a 38.1 average and pinned the Bears inside the 20-yard line twice.

 

Check out the final stats >

 

 

NEWS

COVID-19 Update – Ticket Notice

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NEWS

AUSTIN PEAY, CENTRAL ARKANSAS TO MEET IN GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF

MONTGOMERY – Once again, the college football season will begin in Alabama’s Capital City.

Central Arkansas and Austin Peay will meet in the 2020 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff at historic Cramton Bowl on Saturday, Aug. 29. The kickoff time and television network, along with ticket information, will be announced at a later date.

Central Arkansas was scheduled to host Austin Peay on Saturday, Sept. 19, but the two schools agreed to move the game to the season-opening FCS Kickoff.

“We are excited to be selected to participate in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff,” Central Arkansas Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Teague said. “To be the only game on TV at that time will showcase our great university and athletics program. We are proud that the University of Central Arkansas will be represented in a national game. This is an opportunity that presents itself infrequently and we do not take that lightly. We want to make sure this game day is a special day for our Bear Nation.”

“The Governors could not be more excited to participate in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff,” Austin Peay Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison said. “This game provides us another opportunity to display the Austin Peay spirit on the national stage. I know our student athletes and all of Stacheville will enjoy the southern hospitality provided by the great folks in the City of Montgomery. Many thanks to Johnny Williams, the selection committee, and ESPN for this gargantuan opportunity.”

Central Arkansas (9-4) won the 2019 Southland Conference Championship and advanced to the FCS Playoffs. The Bears lost to Illinois State 24-14 in the second round.

“This is a big deal for not only UCA football and athletics but the university as a whole,” Central Arkansas head coach Nathan Brown said. “To be asked to play in the Week Zero FCS kickoff game is a true honor and shows the respect that our football program has across the nation. We will be one of the only games that weekend and to be featured on ESPN is a big deal not only for our current players and coaches but also for future recruits and a way to spread our national brand. We are humbled and excited to be presented with this opportunity and plan to put our best foot forward to represent Bear Nation in a positive light nationally.”

Austin Peay (11-4) won the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference Championship and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals. The Governors opened their playoff run with a 42-6 home win over No. 16 Furman. One week later, APSU posted a 42-28 win at No. 3 Sacramento State. APSU suffered a 24-10 loss at No. 10 Montana State to end the season.

“It is an honor to accept the invitation to play in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff Classic in Montgomery and represent Austin Peay,” head coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Our team is honored to be one of only two teams selected to play in Week Zero. We look forward to the opportunity to open the season on ESPN and showcase our program, our university and the city of Clarksville.”

Hudspeth has ties to the state of Alabama. He is the former head coach at North Alabama, where he compiled a 66-21 record in seven seasons in Florence. He led UNA to two Gulf South Conference Championships and three trips to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. Hudspeth also spent three seasons as assistant coach at Central Arkansas, where he was a graduate assistant in 1992-93 and defensive backs coach in 1998.

The 2020 season will mark the fourth straight season the FCS Kickoff will be held in Montgomery.  In 2017, Jacksonville State defeated Chattanooga, 27-13. In 2018, North Carolina A&T defeated Jacksonville State 20-17.  Last year, Youngstown State defeated Samford 45-22.

The FCS Kickoff is in its seventh year overall.  The event began in 2014 when Eastern Washington defeated Sam Houston State 56-35 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.  In 2015, Montana knocked off defending FCS champion North Dakota State 38-35 at Grizzly Stadium in Missoula.  In 2016, North Dakota State defeated Charleston Southern 24-17 at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

 

FCS Kickoff All-Time Scores:

Aug. 23, 2014                      Eastern Washington 56, Sam Houston State 35 (Cheney, Wash.)

Aug. 29, 2015                      Montana 38, North Dakota State 35 (Missoula, Mont.)

Aug. 27, 2016                      North Dakota State 24, Charleston Southern 17 (Fargo, N.D.)

Aug. 26, 2017                      Jacksonville State 27, Chattanooga 13 (Montgomery)

Aug. 25, 2018                      North Carolina A&T 20, Jacksonville State 17 (Montgomery)

Aug. 24, 2019                      Youngstown State 45, Samford 22 (Montgomery)

 

ESPN Events

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 34 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games, the FCS opening-weekend game, 16 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and Tampa, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

For more information, visit the official websiteFacebookTwitter or YouTube pages.

NEWS

YOUNGSTOWN STATE FORCES FOUR TURNOVERS IN FCS KICKOFF WIN

MONTGOMERY – Youngstown State defense forced four turnovers and the offense scored on four of its first six possessions to post a 45-22 win over Samford in the sixth annual Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff Classic at the historic Cramton Bowl.

Youngstown State (1-0) recorded three interceptions and recovered one fumble in its season-opening win. The Penguins converted two of the four turnovers into touchdowns, including a 26-yard scoop and score by senior weak side linebacker Cash Mitchell to give YSU a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.

Junior strong safety Zaire Jones recorded two interceptions, while defensive back John Harper also recorded an interception. The three interceptions were as many as the Penguins defense recorded during the entire 2018 season. YSU only had three interceptions in 11 games last season.

While the defense created turnovers, the offense took advantage. YSU controlled the clock with 41:27 time of possession in the win. The Penguins also converted 10-of-18 third down attempts in the win.

“This is starting point for our football team.” Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini said. “Overall, I thought we played well. We had a little lull in the third quarter and gave up two big plays on defense. For the first time out, I thought we played good football. I think we are a work in progress, but I think we have a chance to be a really good football team.”

Samford (0-1) took a brief 7-0 lead when quarterback Liam Welch threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Montgomery native Trey Adams (Trinity) on the Bulldogs second possession of the game.

Welch completed 13-of-22 passes for 142 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions before being replaced in the second half. Adams caught four passes for 74 yards and one touchdown in his first ever game at the Cramton Bowl.

“It was nice to come home,” the former Trinity standout said. “I have played some 7-on-7 here but this was the first time I played in a game here. I was good to come home and play in front of my family.”

Trailing 7-0, Youngstown State scored on its next three possessions to take a 17-7 lead.Senior quarterback Nathan Mays threw a 16-yard pass to Samuel St. Surin to cap a 13-play, 83-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7. Following Mitchell’s defensive touchdown, sophomore kicker Colton McFadden extended the lead to 17-7 with a 43-yard field goal.

Mays closed out the half with a 4-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Josh Burgett to give the Penguins a 24-7 halftime lead.

Mays finished with 214 total yards for the Penguins. He completed 10-of-18 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 13 times for 90 yards.

Both teams sputtered on offense in the third quarter, before an explosive final 15 minutes.

Youngstown State scored on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

Sophomore tailback Braxton Chapman scored on a 1-yard run 14:29 left in the game to extend the lead to 31-7.

Samford made a change at quarterback and junior Chris Oladokun sparked the Bulldogs with a pair of scoring drives. On his third play from scrimmage, he fired a 64-yard touchdown pass to Montrell Washington. Oladokun then ran for the 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 31-15.

“We competed well,” Samford head coach Chris Hatcher said. “We did not quit. We turned the ball over four times. We did not tackle very well. We had a hard time getting off the field on that side of the ball and that makes for a long afternoon against a team that controlled the clock.”

Washington, who finished with two catches for 80 yards and one TD, also provided a spark on special teams. He had five kick returns for 117 yards.

Youngstown State answered with an 8-minute drive, capped by Chapman second 1-yard touchdown of the quarter to extend the lead to 38-15. Chapman had 11 carries for 50 yards and two TDs in the win.

Oladokun then scored on a 10-yard run with just over three minutes left to trim the deficit to 38-22.

Oladokun completed 7-of-10 passes for 126 yards and one TD off the bench. He also had five carries for 14 yards and one TD.

Youngstown State closed out the scoring with a 3-yard run by junior tailback Christian Turner with just over two minutes to play.

The 45 points scored are the second-most points scored in the history of the FCS Kickoff Classic. No. 1 Eastern Washington holds the record in it 56-35 win over No. 17 Sam Houston State in 2014.

Download Stats > 

NEWS

GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF TIME ANNOUNCED

MONTGOMERY – The 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will be played on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. (CT) at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The Samford Bulldogs and Youngstown State Penguins will meet in this year’s game.

The 2019 season will mark the third consecutive season that the FCS Kickoff will take place in Montgomery.  Last year, North Carolina A&T defeated Jacksonville State 20-17, and in 2017, Jacksonville State defeated Chattanooga, 27-13. Samford will be the third straight team from the state of Alabama to participate in the event. The FCS Kickoff began in 2014 when Eastern Washington defeated Sam Houston State 56-35 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.

The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will open a tent pole day of College Football 150 themed programming on ESPN. The network announced earlier today that Miami and Florida will meet in the 2019 Camping World Kickoff in Orlando at 7 p.m. on ESPN. ESPN’s CFB150 documentary, Football is US: The College Game will also air as part of the day’s lineup. A full programming schedule will be announced in the coming months.

ESPN’s multiplatform College Football 150 initiative began in early January and will continue with multiple digital initiatives through the year. Starting August 17, ESPN’s linear rollout will include two documentaries, two weekly docuseries and the selection of the 150 greatest games, teams, coaches, and players. The initiative will culminate with the selection of college football’s all-time All-America team surrounding the College Football Playoff National Championship in January 2020.

NEWS

SAMFORD, YOUNGSTOWN STATE TO MEET AT 2019 GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Samford University and Youngstown State University will open the 2019 college football season at the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The kickoff time will be announced at a later date by ESPN.

The 2019 season will mark the third straight season the FCS Kickoff will be held in Montgomery.  In 2017, Jacksonville State defeated Chattanooga, 27-13. Last year, North Carolina A&T defeated Jacksonville State 20-17.  Samford will be the third straight team from the state of Alabama to participate in the event.

“We are thrilled to be selected for the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff game and open FCS football nationally,” Samford Director of Athletics Martin Newton said. “This is a great platform for us to showcase Samford, the university’s mission and the quality of our Bulldog football program to a national audience against a quality opponent.”

The FCS Kickoff is in its sixth year overall.  The event began in 2014 when Eastern Washington defeated Sam Houston State 56-35 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.  In 2015, Montana knocked off defending FCS champion North Dakota State 38-35 at Grizzly Stadium in Missoula.  In 2016, North Dakota State defeated Charleston Southern 24-17 at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

“Taking part in the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff is a special honor and something we are looking forward to next fall,” Youngstown State Director of Athletics Ron Strollo said. “Everyone throughout the country watches the opening game of the season and it will be fun for our program to take center stage nationally along with Samford.”

Samford, who had a narrow loss at Florida State on Sept. 8, has been to the FCS Playoffs each of the last two seasons under head coach Chris Hatcher.  Overall, Samford has made five playoff appearances in school history.

“It is a great honor to be selected to play in next year’s Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff game,” Hatcher said. “We are excited about the opportunity to play such a quality opponent in Montgomery.  It is a great venue that will bring lots of national attention to our team and university.”

Youngstown State is a perennial power at the FCS level. The Penguins have made 14 NCAA Playoff appearances and have won four FCS National Championships.  YSU won national championships in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1997, all under former head coach Jim Tressel, who currently serves as the school’s President. YSU lost in the 2016 FCS National Championship Game to James Madison.

“Our football program is excited to take part in the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase Youngstown State football on a national stage and we look forward to playing Samford in our 2019 opener at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.”

The 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will be the fifth all-time meeting between Samford and Youngstown State. YSU has won all four of the previous meetings.

FCS Kickoff All-Time Scores:
Aug. 23, 2014                      (#1) Eastern Washington 56, (#17) Sam Houston State 35 (Cheney, Wash.)
Aug. 29, 2015                      (#13) Montana 38, (#1) North Dakota State 35 (Missoula, Mont.)
Aug. 27, 2016                      (#1) North Dakota State 24, (#7) Charleston Southern 17 (Fargo, N.D.)
Aug. 26, 2017                      (#6) Jacksonville State 27, (#12) Chattanooga 13
Aug. 25, 2018                      (#14) North Carolina A&T 20, (#6) Jacksonville State 17

Samford-Youngstown State All-Time Scores:
Dec. 14, 1991                      Youngstown State 10, Samford 0 (FCS Semifinals; Youngstown, Ohio)
Oct. 23, 1993                       Youngstown State 24, Samford 7 (Youngstown, Ohio)
Nov. 23, 2002                      Youngstown State 37, Samford 29 (Youngstown, Ohio)
Nov. 26, 2013                      Youngstown State 38, Samford 24 (FCS First Round; Youngstown, Ohio)

NEWS

NORTH CAROLINA A&T WINS GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF

MONTGOMERY – No. 14 North Carolina A&T extended its winning to streak to 13 games with a 20-17 win over No. 6 Jacksonville State in the Guardian Credit Union Kickoff Classic at historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

The Aggies, who are the defending Historic Black College and University (HBCU) national champions, is tied with UCF for the longest winning streak among FBS and FCS teams. The win was also the first win for head coach Sam Washington, who had previously served as defensive coordinator at the school.

North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson, Jr., sealed the win when he sacked JSU quarterback Zerrick Cooper at the Aggies 23-yard line with 17 seconds left in the game. Johnson forced a fumble on the play and Antoine Wilder recovered the loose football to end the Gamecocks threat.

JSU drove from its own 20-yard line to the North Carolina A&T 17-yard line in the final 90 seconds before their fourth turnover of the night ended the game.

The Gamecocks outgained the Aggies, 403-178 in the game, but the miscues proved to be too much to overcome.

Jacksonville State fumbled four times in the game, losing three, and threw one interception. The Gamecocks were also penalized 14 times for 149 yards, including a costly penalty in the third quarter that negated an on-side kick and gave the Aggies a short field for the go-ahead score. JSU also missed two potential game-tying field goals in the fourth quarter, one of which was blocked by the Aggies.

Despite its miscues, JSU trailed only 7-3 midway through the third quarter before taking its first lead of the game. In fact, the lead changed hands four times in a four-minute stretch in the third quarter with the Aggies taking a 20-17 lead into the final quarter.

JSU took its first lead of the game when quarterback Cooper hooked up with Daniel Byrd for a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Gamecocks a 10-7 lead with 6:13 left in the third quarter.  Cooper’s first career touchdown reception capped a three-play, 75-yard drive for the Gamecocks.

The lead was short-lived as North Carolina A&T return man Malik Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for the go-ahead score.

JSU regained the lead on its next possession with a quick three-play, 65-yard drive capped by Cooper’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Josh Pearson, who also logged his first career TD for the Gamecocks.

Jacksonville State appeared to have recovered a successful on-side kick attempt, but an interference to field the kick penalty on the Gamecocks gave North Carolina A&T the ball on the Gamecocks 36-yard line. The Aggies needed only five plays to regain the lead as quarterback Raynard Lanier tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Bell to put the Aggies ahead to stay.

Jacksonville State had two turnovers and missed two field goals (one blocked) in its final six possessions of the game.

North Carolina A&T took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Lanier fired a 24-yard touchdown pass to Zachary Leslie.

Jacksonville State scored its only points in the first half when Cade Stinnett nailed a 23-yard field goal with 3:55 left in the first half.

Lanier only completed 11-of-34 passes for 111 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Leslie caught three passes for 43 yards and one touchdown.  Jamaal Darden led the defense with 10 tackles in the win.

Cooper completed 24-of-38 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Gamecocks. Josh Pearson caught eight passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. Jalen Choice led the Gamecocks with nine tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. 

 

NORTH CAROLINA A&T HEAD COACH SAM WASHINGTON:

“I thought it was a hard fought game. One of the things I must say: that is a very good football team at Jacksonville State. They’re very well coached. Coach (John) Grass and his staff does a tremendous job, not just a good job, a tremendous job preparing those kids for a ballgame. We’re just super excited that the ball happened to bounce our way a few times. Looking at these numbers, statistically you would think the win would’ve been in reverse. They passed for 323 yards. Our secondary in my opinion played awful. There’s some things that we have got to do, change and get better at. That was one of the things that really stood out. Another thing that I was disappointed with was the kicking game. We feel that if we stop the run, protect the football and win the kicking game, we have a chance to be successful. I think we kind of failed in two of those areas tonight. One of the things I’m most proud of is the way the kids persevered. They kept playing. We have a saying, ‘if something good happens, keep playing. If something bad happens, keep playing.’ Going in I thought it could possibly be a roller coaster-type ballgame and that’s exactly what it was. It swayed up and down several times. We were fortunate to get the win.”

On Jacksonville State limiting NC A&T running back Marquell Cartwright:
“They have a very stingy defense. It’s not just Cartwright. I’ve seen them do that. If you watch them on tape, they get after you. They have those two big guys inside that are very athletic and I thought the defensive ends played very well. They kept him contained, kept him bottled in. We are going to have to go back and look at some ways to attack it because I’m sure other teams are going to try some of the things they had success with. We have to get that fixed as well.”

On getting a win despite the offense finishing with 148 total yards:
“It tells a lot honestly. We don’t look to one particular area to be successful. We hang our hat on all three phases of the game. There are times when the defense is going to have to uphold the offense, and there will be situations and times where the offense is going to have to uphold the defense. There’s always times when special teams are going to have to contribute one way or the other.”

On defending Jacksonville State’s running game:
“We’re a single gap defense. We just did what we do. We’re a vertical team, single gap, everybody responsible for their gap. We use that philosophy and we just stuck with that and it seemed to have worked for us.”

On what he was thinking during the back-and-forth third quarter:
“They can’t score again. I got to the point where I said ‘listen, they can’t score again. If we’re going to win this ballgame, they cannot score again.’ We were able to turn the faucet off so to speak. However, they still had quite a few successful plays, but when we got in the red zone, we were able to get them stopped.”

On what the first win feels like:
“It’s a great feeling, I promise you that. It is a tremendous feeling. It’s a relief. We’ve been going at it since spring camp. We’ve been anxious to get out and play. It’s great to get this first one under our belt.”

On if he called anything special on the blocked field goal:
“We said ‘let’s go all out.’ We sent all 11. That’s what we did. You call that special if you want. Some people call it crazy. It happened to work. That’s one of those things that if it works, you’re a great coach. If it don’t, you know how that goes.”

 

JACKSONVILLE STATE HEAD COACH JOHN GRASS POST GAME QUOTES:

“We just didn’t play well enough to make it happen. We should’ve kicked the field goal to go to overtime rather than going for it at the end of the game, and that one is on me. I got a little greedy trying to win the game, but we turned it over. That’s my fault.”

“I thought our effort was really good. You have to tip your cap to North Carolina A&T. They played hard and played the game the way you’re supposed to play it. They were fundamentally sound and protected the ball, and there were times that we didn’t protect it. I’ve been saying it all summer; we knew it was a game that was going to go down to special teams and who turns it over – more or less. We turned it over the last two times we had it, and you can’t do that in those situations. We more than doubled them in total yardage, but then you go back and look at the penalties, the kicking game and turnovers. And that’s something I blame myself for, too.”

 

To view game stats, click here

NEWS

2018 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff Set For Saturday, August 25

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The defending Historic Black College and University (HBCU) national champion North Carolina A&T Aggies and the four-time defending Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) champion Jacksonville State Gamecocks will square off in the 2018 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The game will be televised on ESPN with kickoff time to be set at a later date.

Last year’s Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff Champions, the Jacksonville State University (JSU) Gamecocks, haven’t lost an Ohio Valley Conference game since 2013. In 2017, the Gamecocks posted a 10-2 overall record and adavnced to the FCS playoffs. JSU has won four straight OVC football championships, going 32-0 in conference play during that span. Since 2003, JSU has won seven OVC football championships.

“Jacksonville State is thrilled to open the season in the Guardian FCS Kickoff again in 2018,” Jacksonville State University director of athletics Greg Seitz said. “After playing in the inaugural game last year, we feel it is one of the premier events in all of FCS football and is a great stage for us to showcase our program and FCS football to a national audience. We had a great experience in Montgomery in 2017 and we are excited to be able to give our fans the opportunity to see us play in a setting that is close to Jacksonville.”

The North Carolina A&T Aggies finished the 2017 season with a perfect 12-0 record and won their second Celebration Bowl in three years, defeating Grambling State 21-14. The Aggies have won six HBCU National Championships, including 1951, 1968, 1990, 1999, 2015 and 2017.

“We are pleased to be playing in the FCS Kickoff,” Earl Hilton, North Carolina A&T director of athletics said. “Participating in the game is an indication of how prominent North Carolina A&T State football has become over the past few years. The Aggies are playing in this showcase event because we are one of the best teams on the Division I-FCS level and that is a testament to how hard our players, coaches and administrators are working. I want to thank the organizers for choosing to put our great university, North Carolina A&T State, on this enormous stage. A&T looks forward to playing Jacksonville State, a program that has exemplified what it means to be a nationally-ranked top-10 team on a consistent basis.”

For up-to-the-minute information, visit guardianfcskickoff.com or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff is one of 31 events owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.

 

ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Florida); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); DXL Frisco Bowl (Frisco, Texas); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); The Home Depot College Football Awards Presented by Gildan (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Collegiate Basketball

AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Hartford, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 presented by State Farm (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off; State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

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ESPN Media Contact: Anna Negron at 860-766-2233 or anna.m.negron@espn.com; @ItsAnnaNegron

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