A&T upsets South Carolina State on Senior DayBy Semaj Marsh
Published: November 16, 2012
Having watched his team perfect the art of winning ugly over the last few weeks, A&T coach Rod Broadway knew that if they just stuck around long enough against South Carolina State and kept fighting, it was only a matter of time before his vaunted defense would step up and deliver a knock out blow.
Sure enough, A&T overcame its own offensive struggles against the visiting Bulldogs last Saturday and got a late defensive score for the third straight game to help preserve a 17-7 victory, ensuring the Aggies (6-4 overall, 4-3 MEAC) of their first winning campaign since 2003.
“I’m proud of the way our players hang in there and find ways to win ballgames,” said Broadway afterwards. “It’s not pretty, but it’s a win. Our guys kept playing hard today, and they were rewarded for it during the back end of the ballgame because some things went our way. To be 6-4 at this point in the season is a great accomplishment for our players because they’ve worked their butts off this season.”
D’vonte Graham emerged once again as scoring weapon on defense when he scooped up a South Carolina State fumble on what was ruled a backwards pass and dashed into the end zone untouched for a 10 yard touchdown return. Graham also blocked two field goal attempts in the first half, helping him earn national Special Teams Player of the Week Honors by the Sports Network.
“I know it has been a long time since someone has scored a touchdown on our defense, but I didn’t want them to score at all,” said Graham who has now scored four touchdowns this season and leads the team with four interceptions. “I take pride in stopping a team from scoring.”
South Carolina State jumped off to a 7-0 lead before most of the fans at Aggie Stadium were even comfortably in their seats, thanks to a 96-yard return by Jakar Hamilton on the game’s opening kick off. But that would mostly serve as the full extent of their highlights in this contest as A&T held the Bulldogs on only eight first downs and 166 yards of total offense the rest of the way.
A&T, which currently boasts the second ranked defense in the entire nation, has not allowed an offensive touchdown in 14 quarters and has held its last three opponents to less than 300 yards of offense.
Unfortunately, the Aggies were unable to capitalize on the excellent field position and numerous scoring opportunities given to them by the defense for most of the afternoon, until they eventually began to wear down the Bulldogs in the second half.
A 22 yard field goal by Zach Cimaglia midway through the third quarter finally got A&T on the scoreboard and Ricky Lewis would later provide the go-ahead score on a 34-yard run with 7:54 left to give the Aggies a 10-7 lead.
This win snapped a 12-game losing streak to South Carolina State and set up a season-ending showdown against archrival North Carolina Central this weekend in Durham.
The Eagles (6-4 overall, 5-2 MEAC) have quietly emerged as one of the MEAC’s most improved teams this season under second-year coach Henry Frazier III, but are coming off a disappointing 22-21 road loss to Florida A&M last week, in a game which they surrendered 13 unanswered points in the fourth
“We’re going to prepare for them like any other game,” said A&T quarterback Lewis Kindle, who led A&T to a 31-21 victory over NCCU a season ago. “It will mean a lot to the program if we could get to 7-4. To get up for a rivalry game shouldn’t be hard for any of us.”