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Battle of CIAA undefeateds set

The big showdown this week is in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association North Division where two of the three undefeated black college teams – BCSP No. 6 Bowie State (6-0, 3-0 CIAA, 1-0 North) and BCSP No. 7 Virginia State (5-0, 3-0, 1-0) – meet in Petersburg, Va. (2 p.m.) at VSU’s homecoming.

Last year at Bowie State’s homecoming, the home standing Bulldogs came from 11 points down (37-26) in the third quarter to pull out a 38-37 win en route to winning their second straight North Division title. This one should be just as exciting and hotly contested.

BSU features 6-4, 180-pound junior quarterback Amir Hall whose 1,983 passing yards (330.5 yards per game) and 24 touchdown passes thru six games leads CIAA and HBCU football
and is among the leaders in all of NCAA Div. II. Hall, who completes 70.3% of his passes (130 of 185) with just two interceptions, tops Div. II in passing efficiency (201.0) and passing TDs. He also leads in points responsible for (180) and points responsible for per game (30.0).

The Bulldogs, who average a whopping league-, HBCU- and Div. II-best 54.3 points per game, also have the CIAA’s fourth leading rusher (106.5 ypg.) and leading scorer (9 TDs) in tailback Robert Chesson and the leader in receptions (34), receiving yards per game (90.7) and receiving touchdowns (9) in Brandon Britton.

Virginia State is no slouch however. The Trojans average 40.6 points per contest, second best in the CIAA, and have the CIAA leader in rushing (125.8 ypg., 6 TDs) and kickoff returns (40.0 ypr., 1 TD) in dynamic 5-11, 185-pound senior RB/KR Trenton Cannon.

VSU has used both redshirt sophomore Cordelral Cook and junior Niko Johnson at quarterback and both have been effective. Cook (54-96-3, 662 yards) has run for eight TDs and passed for six scores while Johnson (20-35-0, 338 yards) has thrown five TD passes.

The other game matching teams ranked in the BCSP Top Ten is in the Southwestern Athletic Conference where BCSP No. 4 Alcorn State has its homecoming (2 p.m.) vs. No. 9 Prairie View A&M. Alcorn (4-2) tops the SWAC East Division with a 2-0 record and is the league’s top scoring team at 30.5 points per game. Prairie View (2-3, 2-1 W), who trails BCSP No. 2 Grambling State (5-1, 2-0 W) in the West after dropping a 34-21 decision to the G-Men last week, is averaging 27.4 ppg. Grambling is off this week.

Alcorn has the league’s leading passer in senior QB Lenorris Footman (1,334 yards, 222.3 ypg., 9 TDs) and the leading rusher in senior RB De’Lance Turner (211.3 ypg., 3 TDs). Footman
has also rushed for 385 yards and 5 TDs, Turner’s 8.4 yards per carry has helped the Braves rush for a league-best 228 yards per game.

Big wideouts Norlando Veals (31 receptions, 524 yards, 87.3 ypg.) and Charles Hughes team with Marquis Warford (21 rec., 2 TDs) to give the Braves a dangerous trio of receivers. Prairie View will have a hard time containing the explosive Braves.

Another battle to watch will be an MEAC tussle in Tidewater Virginia as rivals BCSP No.9 Hampton (3-2, 2-0 MEAC) and Norfolk State (2-3, 2-0) tangle in the annual Battle of the Bay at Norfolk’s Dick Price Stadium (2 p.m.). The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and rebroadcast at 10:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

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Both teams are 2-0 in MEAC play with the winner staying in contention as the season enters its final five weeks.

Also in the MEAC, BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T (6-0, 3-0 MEAC), the third remaining undefeated team in HBCU football, travels to Tallahassee, Fla. (3 p.m) to meet Florida A&M (2-4, 1-2) at the Rattlers’ homecoming. BCSP No. 10 Howard (2-3, 1-1) travels (2 p.m.) to winless (0-5, 0-3) Delaware State’s homecoming.

South Carolina State (2-3, 1-2) and Bethune-Cookman (2-3, 1-1) tangle in Daytona Beach, Fla. (4 p.m.) with the perennial contenders looking to stay relevant in the conference race.

There are two key homecoming games in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference East Division. Current division leader Albany State (4-2, 2-0 E) has its homecoming (2 p.m.) vs. Morehouse (3-3, 2-2 E) while second-place Benedict (3-2, 2-1 E) hosts (2 p.m.) Clark Atlanta (3-3, 2-2) for homecoming.

Fort Valley State (2-3, 2-1), currently tied with Benedict, hosts (2 p.m.) Lane (1-5, 0-4).

Tuskegee (4-2, 3-1 W) has its second game against a SWAC opponent when the Golden Tigers go up against winless Jackson State (0-5, 0-2 SWAC) at the Fifth Quarter Classic in Mobile,
Ala. (6 p.m.). Tuskegee defeated SWAC member Alabama State, 14-6 to open the season.

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

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