Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – There was cause for a little celebration
on Monday within North Carolina A&T’s football program.
What the Aggies really want is to stage a full celebration on Saturday.
A&T moved into The Sports Network FCS Top 25 for the first time since the 2004
preseason poll, earning the No. 24 ranking just in front of fellow Mid-Eastern
Athletic Conference member Bethune-Cookman.
Two MEAC teams in the poll is rare, and come Saturday, the Aggies want to be
the one team left standing in the conference’s deep title race. They have sole
possession of first place and have clinched at least a share of their first
conference title since 2003, but five other teams, including the North Carolina
Central squad they visit on Saturday, trail them by only one game and can still
earn a share of the crown.
Either North Carolina A&T or the team that wins a tiebreaker if there is a tie
for first place will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
The 24-team field will be announced Sunday morning.
“This is a good football team. If we win next week, it will be a great football
team,” A&T coach Rod Broadway said.
North Carolina A&T (9-2, 6-1) is on a five-game winning streak and has shut out
its last two opponents, marking the first time that has happened since 1954.
They lost last month to traditional MEAC power South Carolina State, and out of
conference they gave unbeaten Coastal Carolina its toughest game before
falling, 31-30, back on Sept. 6.
The Aggies are outscoring opponents by nearly 20 points per game with an
offense led by quarterback Kwashaun Quick and running back Tarik Cohen, who has
gone over 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons in Greensboro.
Defensively, linebacker D’Vonte Grant is their leader, making plays all over
the field. They also have forced 21 interceptions, ranking second in the FCS
and led by Donald Mattocks with seven and Tony McRae with five.
There’s plenty of jockeying going on across the FCS as most conference title
races wind down Saturday. Five of the 11 FCS conferences that participate in
the national playoffs have handed out their automatic bids already.
All of the top 12 teams in the rankings won this past Saturday, except for No.
5 Eastern Washington, which was idle.
New Hampshire (9-1) maintained its No. 1 ranking on Monday following a rout of
Delaware in CAA Football. The Wildcats gained 74 of the 160 first-place votes
and 3,879 points in the voting.
Coastal Carolina (11-0) remained at No. 2 with 56 first-place votes and 3,802
points. Coach Joe Moglia’s Chanticleers will try to complete a perfect regular
season when they host Big South rival Liberty on Saturday.
North Dakota State (10-1), the three-time defending FCS national champion,
rebounded from its first loss since 2012 by defeating Missouri State and moved
up one spot to No. 3, surpassing Ohio Valley Conference champion Jacksonville
State (9-1). NDSU collected 20 first-place votes and 3,606 points, and
Jacksonville State had 10 and 3,581, respectively.
Then it was No. 5 Eastern Washington (9-2), No. 6 Villanova (9-2), No. 7
Fordham (10-1), No. 8 Illinois State (9-1), No. 9 Chattanooga (8-3) and
No. 10 Southeastern Louisiana (8-3).
The next 10 were No. 11 Northern Iowa (7-4), No. 12 Montana State (8-3), No. 13
Montana (7-4), No. 14 Eastern Kentucky (9-2), No. 15 Harvard (9-0), No. 16
South Dakota State (7-4), No. 17 James Madison (8-3), No. 18 Indiana State
(7-4), No. 19 McNeese State (6-4) and No. 20 Youngstown State (7-4).
Richmond (7-4) checked in at No. 21, followed by No. 22 William & Mary (7-4),
No. 23 Sam Houston State (7-4), which re-entered the rankings following a four-
week absence, North Carolina A&T and No. 25 Bethune-Cookman (8-3).
Bryant and Northern Arizona fell out of the Top 25 after suffering losses on
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors,
broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25. In the voting,
a first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the
way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
During the regular season, the Top 25 is released every Monday afternoon,
except for the final weekend of the regular season – next weekend – when it
will be released Sunday morning, prior to the announcement of the 24-team FCS
The Sports Network will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship
game, which will be held Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas.