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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Defense shines in NCCU Maroon-Gray game; Old Dominion will be 11th opponent this fall

Posted by on Sat, Apr 10, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Mose Rison liked the spring game as the Eagles get ready for his fourth season at the helm.
  • File photo courtesy NCCU athletics
  • Mose Rison liked the spring game as the Eagles get ready for his fourth season at the helm.
O’KELLY-RIDDICK STADIUM/DURHAM Mose Rison put his N.C. Central football team on display for the public in its annual Maroon & Gray game, and the defense probably won.

But the big news of the day was the addition of another game for this fall.

The Eagles have added an 11th game — and a seventh home game — on Nov. 20 against Old Dominion, a team that is in its second season of football. NCCU, which has gone 4-7 each of the past two seasons as it transitions into NCAA Division I, has never played seven home games in the same season.

NCCU was one of the better teams on the schedule last season for the Monarchs (9-2), who won their first meeting in Norfolk 42-28.

“This is huge for this football program,” Rison said. “Our kids really enjoy playing in front of our fans and we play well at home.”

Incumbent starting quarterback Michael Johnson completed six of 15 passes for 74 yards and led one touchdown drive, which ended in a 1-yard scoring plunge by Justin Campbell.

“We were just starting to click toward the end of spring ball, so I wish it had gone on a little bit longer,” Johnson said. “Overall it was pretty good. I’m more comfortable coming to the line and seeing everything. Last year I knew my plays and what everyone had to do, but I had no clue what the defense was doing. Now my thought process is much better and I’m seeing the field way better.”

Freshman Eric Brown, stepping in as the backup quarterback as Keon Williams was away at a funeral, completed a 32-yard pass to Marvin Poole for the other touchdown.

Corey Harris had three catches for 52 yards.

The Maroon team, which always had the ball, produced 147 yards on 47 plays, including just 41 yards on 24 rushing plays.

Xavier Proctor led the defense with three sacks and a deflection, while Darian Peterson had a 13-yard interception return.

“We’ve gotten a lot better,” defensive lineman Donald Laster said. “Our younger guys are stepping up and doing a tremendous job. The second and third team can do as well as our first team.

“We want to get three-and-outs and make turnovers. We have a goal of giving up no more than 14 points.”
Rison said he thinks the Eagles are ready to have a winning season this time for the first time since 2007.

Preseason drills begin Aug. 1, and the opener is against visiting Johnson C. Smith on Sept. 2.

“The spring game is really a climactic point to find out what the guys have been doing all winter,” Rison said. “It’s an opportunity for the guys to play a little football in front of their families and have a little fun.

“The fact we got out of this game without any injuries was very big to me. And everyone who was sitting out this spring should be ready to go in August.”

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