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Top teams battle at homecomings

BCSP Editor

October, the homcoming month, continues with 14 such games this week. While the camaraderie and off-field festivities will be in full swing, the action on the field will be hot and heavy. Four of the top seven teams in the BCSP Top Ten will be on the road in homecoming contests. The other three in the top seven will be hosting their own. All eyes will be on Washington, D. C. Saturday (1 p.m.) as the BCSP and consensus HBCU No. 1 North Carolina A&T Aggies invade the nation’s capital to take on an improving Howard team for the Bison’s homecoming. A&T (5-1, 3-0 MEAC) is up one spot to 14th in this week’s STATS FCS national poll.

The Aggies are riding the play of senior all-American running back Tarik Cohen who has rushed for 200-plus yards in three straight games. Dating back to December’s Celebration Bowl vs. Alcorn State, Cohen has topped the 200-yard mark in his last four games against FCS competition. In those games, Cohen has ten touchdowns covering 73, 84, 74, 94, 30, 15, 62, 87, 11 and 8 yards. Cohen, with 890 yards, is closing in on his fourth straight 1,000-yard season and on several career rushing marks. The Bison (1-6, 1-5) face Cohen and the Aggies after a close 14-9 loss to perennial MEAC contender South Carolina State where they held the Bulldogs to 174 total yards. Holding the dynamic Cohen to that many yards will be quite an accomplishment. The Aggies top the league in scoring offense (40.0 points per game) and scoring defense (23.0 ppg.) and also lead in total defense, total offense, rushing defense and rushing offense.

One counter for the Bison will be dynamic junior running back Anthony Philyaw whose 126.2 rushing yards per game is just behind Cohen’s league-best 148.3 yards per contest. They are Nos. 2 and 5 in FCS national rushing stats. BCSP No. 2 Grambling State returns to action well-rested after a two-week hiatus and will play Saturday (2 p. m.) at winless Mississippi Valley State’s homecoming. Despite the break, the Tigers (3-1, 3-0 SWAC W) are up three spots to 22nd in this week’s STATS FCS national poll. Transfer quarterback Devante Kincade, who is second in the SWAC in passing yardage (256.8 yards per game) and leads the league in passing efficiency (160.1), is firmly in control of the GMen’s offense.

Kincade has passed for nine touchdowns without an interception. His favorite target, wideout Chad Williams, leads the SWAC in receptions per game (39, 9.8 per game) and receiving yards (138.5 ypg.) and has three TD catches. Grambling is second in the league in scoring (33.8 points per game) and leads in scoring defense giving up just 19.8 ppg. They are also first in total offense, defense and pass offense. MVSU (0-7, 0-3 E) will have its hands full. BCSP No. 3 North Carolina Central (5-2, 4-0 MEAC) is still atop the MEAC standings and travels to Baltimore to face a dangerous Morgan State (2-3, 2-1) team in the Bears’ homecoming (1 p.m.).

Despite throwing five picks last week vs. Savannah State, NCCU senior Malcolm Bell still completed 73.6% of his passes (28 of 38) in the 33-3 win at homecoming. Bell has league highs of 11 TDs and 10 interceptions but still tops the league in passing efficiency (137.7) and total offense (247.7 ypg.) and is second in passing yards (209.6 ypg.). Morgan State stayed with Hampton last week before losing at the Pirates’ homecoming, 21-12. The loss stopped a two-game MSU win streak. BCSP No. 4 Tuskegee (6-0, 4-0 SIAC, 1-0 W), the only undefeated team left in HBCU football, remains in fifth in the AFCA NCAA Div. II national poll after its bye week. The Golden Tigers are the only top team in the BCSP Top Ten not playing a homecoming on the road. Instead, Tuskegee will host suddenly resurgent SIAC West foe Kentucky State in The Bowl for its homecoming Saturday (1 p.m.).

KSU (3-4, 3-1, 2-0 W), under new head coach John L. Williams, pulled off a stunner last week, knocking off defending West Division and conference champion Miles 28-24 at the KSU homecoming in Frankfort, Ky. The Thorobreds have won three straight conference games since losing their opener to Morehouse. BCSP No. 6 Southern is the other team in the Top Ten staging its homecoming this week. The Jags (3-2, 3-0 SWAC W), virtually tied at the top of the SWAC West with Grambling, host Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-5, 1-3 W) at 4 p.m.

Southern RB Lenard Tillery (126.0 ypg., 1st rushing) and QB Aaron Howard (255.2 ypg., 3rd passing) are among the SWAC leaders. UAPB quarterback Brandon Duncan is the league’s top passer (269 yprg., 9 TDs, 1 int.) BCSP No. 7 South Carolina State (2-3, 2-0) has its homecoming (1:30 p.m.) entertaining winless Delaware State (0-6, 0-3). BCSP No. 5 Tennessee State (5-1) and No. 8 Prairie View A&M (4-2) have dates on the road at FBS opponents Vanderbilt (3-4) and Rice (0-6). No. 9 Bowie State (5-2, 4-0, 2-0 N) is on the road for its third tough N. Div. match up (1 p.m.) at Virginia Union (4-3, 3-1, 1-1 N). The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. New No. 10 Chowan (5-2, 3-1, 1-1 N) plays

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