That would have to start today, when NCCU (4-6, 2-4 MEAC) hosts Norfolk State (3-7, 3-3) in the home finale on a warm, sunny Senior Day. Win today and then upset uber arch-rival North Carolina on the road next week, and it’s a pretty good finish for interim coach Dwayne Foster.
NCCU gets it done on a day when its special teams have a field day, winning at home against a Division I team for the first time all season in a 24-13 decision.
The Eagles get on the board first as Jordan Reid sticks the ball over the line from a yard out with 1:20 left in the quarter. Reid completes a pair of 17-yard passes on the 12-play, 70-yard drive, with Oleg Parent adding the conversion kick.
It takes the Spartans little time to square it, as Rolandan Finch sprints up the middle for a 42-yard score to end a three-play, 75-yard march with 15 seconds left in the period. Cameron Marouf tacks on the boot.
Norfolk State makes it 13-7 with 3:03 left in the half on DeAndre Sangster’s four-yard pass from Tyler Clark to finish a six-play, 57-yard march. Marouf’s try is wide right.
But the Eagles come right back. Andre Clarke goes in from three yards out at 1:36 to complete a six-play, 70-yard march one play after a spectacular catch in traffic by Tyron Harris results in a 40-yard gain. Parent’s successful boot puts NCCU ahead.
Parent adds three points from 25 yards out at 10:08 of the third, seven plays after Hakiem Swann recovers a Spartan fumble at the NSU 23. But his 36-yard attempt on the Eagles’ next possession is blocked at 5:54.
And C.J. Moore ices it with 12:23 left, when he picks up the loose ball following Ryan Smith’s blocked field goal and returns it 70 yards to pay dirt. Parent’s conversion makes it 24-13.
The Spartans gain 396 yards to 266 for NCCU, but it doesn’t matter.
Moore is in on 12 tackles to go with his long return. Reid completes eight of 16 passes for 103 yards with his rushing TD and two interceptions. Clarke carries 20 times for 94 yards and his TD.
Norfolk’s Clark completes 19 of 31 passes for 146 yards and a TD with two interceptions. Finch carries 17 times for 85 yards and the TD.
They said it …
Foster: “It’s a great win, and a great win for our seniors. Winning is a process. When you have a young team like we do it’s important to see them mature. Keep fighting and get the victory.”
Moore: “They came off a big win last week so we knew we had to bring a lot of intensity. We did that all week in practice. And it’s Senior Day. We were playing with a lot of passion and it showed up on the field.”
Reid: “At the quarterback position you’ve got to have a different type of swagger. I’ve been injured the past couple of weeks, but I felt a lot better this week. Coach Forster always preaches to us that we want to go 1-0 every week. Now we can talk about A&T.”
What does it all mean?
That the Eagles will have a chance for that .500 season if they can top the Aggies.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Moore’s blocked kick return.
NCCU: Won 2.
Norfolk State: Lost 1.
NCCU leads 6-5.
NCCU at North Carolina A&T, Nov. 23, 1 p.m.
Norfolk State at S.C. State, Nov. 23, 1 p.m.