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Division titles to be decided in CIAA North, SIAC East

BCSP Editor

Add Winston-Salem State to the list of teams that have earned berths in the 2016 football postseason. The Rams downed Shaw 30-23 Saturday at the Bears’ homecoming in Durham to clinch the CIAA South Division crown and a berth in the Nov. 12 league championship game in Salem, Va. WSSU (7-2 overall), up to sixth in the latest BCSP Top Ten and riding a six-game winning streak, is 6-0 in conference play headed into its final regular game (2 p.m.) at Fayetteville State Saturday.

At 4-2 in conference play and in second place in the division, FSU (4-5) cannot catch the Rams. The Northern Division title and spot opposite WSSU in the CIAA Championship game will be determined Saturday in the last week of regular season games. Entering Saturday’s contests, Bowie State (6-3 overall) is on top of the North with a 5-1 conference record. BSU is tenth in the latest BCSP

Top Ten. Virginia State (7-2), Virginia Union (5-4) and Elizabeth City State (5-4) are all at 4-2 in conference play, just a game behind the Bulldogs. In Saturday’s deciding games, Bowie State hosts Elizabeth City State (1 p.m.) and Virginia State plays at Virginia Union (1 p.m.). A Bowie State win would give the division crown and title game berth to the Bulldogs.

An ECSU win over BSU coupled with a win by Virginia Union over Virginia State would give ECSU the division title and title-game berth. VSU will earn the title and championship game berth with an ECSU win over Bowie State and a win over VUU. WSSU is ninth and BSU is tenth in the latest NCAA Div. II Super Region 1 rankings. Only the top eight teams will receive bids to the Div. II playoffs.

The battle for the East Division crown and spot opposite West Division winner Kentucky State in the Nov. 12 SIAC Championship game in Montgomery, Alabama comes down to Saturday’s Fountain City Classic in Columbus, Ga. (2 p.m., Aspire TV) between Albany State (5-3, 3-1 SIAC, 3-0 E) and Fort Valley State (3-6, 3-3, 2-1 E). The winner is in. Meanwhile, Tuskegee (-1, 5-1, 2-1 W) closes its season on the road (2 p.m.) at Miles. Tuskegee is the only SIAC team ranked in the top ten of Super Region II. The Golden Tigers are fourth. With a win vs. Miles they are likely to secure a playoff berth.

BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T and BCSP No. 3 North Carolina Central are undefeated in MEAC play and tied for first as they head into their final three regular season games. NC A&T (7-1, 5-0 MEAC), up one spot to 11th in this week’s STATS FCS national poll, has a tough date at home (1 p.m.) Saturday vs. South Carolina State (3-4, 3-1). Buddy Pough’s Bulldogs suffered their first conference loss Saturday at Hampton (28-26). They have given the Aggies fits the last three times they’ve met.

In 2013, they won 29-24 in Atlanta at the Atlanta Classic. In 2014, they shut out the Aggies 13-0 again in Atlanta. Last year in Orangeburg, they held the Aggies to 145 total yards (102 rushing, 43 passing) though A&T came away with a 9-6 win. In last year’s game, SCSU led 6-3 with less than three minutes to play. But the Bulldogs inexplicably tried a pass on a fake punt in A&T territory that was intercepted by A&T linebacker Denzel Jones and returned to the SCSU 31. Five plays later, back-up QB Kylil Carter hit Khris Gardin on a 17-yard game-winning TD pass with a minute-and-a-half left.

On the ensuing possession, SCSU drove to the A&T 16 but Tyler Scandrett’s attempt at a game-tying 33-yard field goal at the final buzzer was wide left. This year’s game will match the league’s preseason players of the year in A&T running back Tarik Cohen and SCSU linebacker Darius Leonard. Both had lived up to their billing. Cohen, who this year became the MEAC’s career rushing leader, currently tops the league with 1,168 rushing yards (146.0 ypg.) and 14 touchdowns.

He has been held to 62, 49 and 58 yards and no touchdowns in his three meetings with the Bulldogs. Leonard leads the league with 86 tackles (12.3 per game). Teammate and fellow linebacker Dayshawn Taylor is fourth with 59 tackles (8.4 pg.). NC Central (6-2, 5-0) is expected to have a much easier date at winless Delaware State (0-8, 0-5). Next week, the Eagles host one-win Howard before its season-ending home date against the Aggies on Nov. 19. A&T plays at DelState next week.

Though both are coming off losses, Alcorn State (3-4) and Jackson State (3-5) are tied for the SWAC East lead with 3-3 conference records. Jackson State travels to Alabama State (2-6, 2-5) Saturday (2 p.m.) while Alcorn State is on the road (1 p.m., ESPN3) at BCSP No. 5 Prairie View A&M (5-3, 5-1 W) Grambling State (5-1, 5-0 W) stayed at 21st in the STATS FCS national poll. The G-Men will play (1 p.m.) at Alabama A&M (3-5, 3-4 E). BCSP No. 4 Southern (5-2, 5-1 W) is hosting (4 p.m.) Texas Southern (3-5, 3-3 W).

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