N.C. A&T Aggies are ‘Chasing Excellence’
GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T head coach Rod Broadway, who is never one to shy away from the reality of a situation, understood how he sounded Saturday evening complaining about dropped interceptions after his No. 12/16 Aggies improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 44-3 drubbing of Delaware State at Aggie Stadium as a part of the Greatest Homecoming On Earth.
But for Broadway, his coaching staff and his players, what he said on Saturday made perfect sense.
“We’re chasing excellence,” said Broadway, leaning back in his chair with an arm draped over the chair to the right of him and the other arm draped over the chair to the left of him. “It’s not just about winning, it’s just not about how bad you beat people, it’s about chasing excellence and being as good as we can be. That’s what I’m trying to get these guys to understand. Great teams do the little things. When the ball is thrown to you, catch it. When the guy is front of you, tackle him … do the little things.”
Broadway also mentioned the five potential interceptions the Aggies dropped, including two that probably would have been touchdowns. One of those potential pick-6’slipped through the hands of redshirt freshman Mac McCain, who had he of ran it back, would have tied the NCAA FCS single-season record for interception returns for touchdowns (4).
Nevertheless, while the Aggies continue to perfect themselves to excellence, doing so while undefeated is not a bad position to be in. Plus, Broadway’s football team gave homecoming Aggies plenty to be proud of as they continue to enjoy the week’s festivities. The defense sacked Delaware State quarterbacks eight times, leading to the Aggies holding the Hornets (0-5, 0-3 MEAC) to minus-38 yards rushing.
Sophomore wide receiver Elijah Bell had a career day with a career-best nine receptions for a career-high 178 yards receiving. Redshirt junior quarterback Lamar Raynard also had a career day and made history in the process. Raynard completed 20 of 26 passes for a career-best 324 yards and three touchdowns. In the process, he became the first player in program history to have two 300-yard passing games in the same season following his 321-yard day at Gardner-Webb on Sept. 2.
“I have some great talent around me, so it’s really no pressure on me,” said Raynard. “The guys upfront protect me, and the guys I throw to and hand it off to, are all capable of making big plays. It’s really no pressure.”
Raynard’s high school teammate and redshirt junior running back Marquell Cartwright also had another stellar performance with 96 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries. It was Cartwright who first put the Aggies on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run set up by a short pass to Bell that turned into a 51-yard catch and run. The Aggie defense then made its presence felt as a fumble sack by Jermaine Williams led to a DSU safety and a 9-0 Aggies lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Aggies took advantage of the free kick that ensued as All-American returner Khris Gardin returned the kick 78 yards to the DSU 2-yard line.
Mr. Cartwright once again did the honors by running in from 2-yards out for a 16-0 Aggies lead going into the second quarter.
DSU did respond as Bycen Alleyne returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards to the Aggies 39. It led to a 47-yard field goal from Wisdom Nzidee to put the Hornets on the board.
It didn’t help much. The last nine minutes of the first half included Raynard going 4-for-4 on a 4-play drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Gardin. It also included a 44-yard catch and run from graduate running back Jamari Smith. The drive ended with a 16-yard completion to Bell and 10-yard TD toss to fifth-year senior Xavier Griffin as the Aggies went into the locker room leading 30-3.
Just to give the sellout crowd something else to cheer about after the Blue & Gold Marching Machine completed its halftime performance, Raynard connected with Bell for a 61-yard TD bomb to put the Hornets away. With a little more than half the season gone, a top-15 national ranking and a 6-0 start in their possession, the Aggies are looking to rededicate themselves to chasing excellence and greatness. Sound crazy? It sounds just right to the guys doing the chasing.
“We can’t make the mistakes we made today and expect to be a great football team,” said Broadway. “We had a dominant performance, and I am proud of my guys and my coaching staff. But once we get a team in a position we had them in the first half, let’s end it. Let’s get that killer mentality. I hate to sound like I’m complaining, but it could have been a much better performance.”
N.C. A&T returns to the road next week when they travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to face the Florida A&M Rattlers at Bragg Stadium, starting at 3 p.m.