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A&T reassesses air and ground game to face Delaware

By Semaj Marsh, Peacemaker Sports / October 12, 2023

Nathiel Spindle, a sophomore defensive back makes a touchdown saving tackle on the Widcats’ Jaylan Sanchez. Photo by Joe Daniels / Carolina Peacemaker.

It appears the renewed sense of hope and confidence building around the A&T football program may have been short lived.

One week after upsetting Norfolk State to capture their first victory of the season and give Vincent Brown his first-ever win as head coach, A&T returned to Truist Stadium this past Saturday and was thoroughly dominated in every phase during a humbling 37-14 loss to Villanova.

“Seven yards passing in the first half puts tremendous stress on your offense and your entire defense,” said Brown in his postgame press conference after his team fell to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the Coastal Athletic Association. “Being unable to run the football is very challenging. Overall, it is not even remotely good enough for us to be competitive in the conference. We have to find a way offensively to produce points. We have to find a way offensively to pass the football. It has been the same story all season long.”

The visiting Wildcats amassed 537 yards of total offense and held the Aggies to 172, including just 64 yards through the air. It was the fifth straight game A&T has been plagued by an anemic aerial attack and unable to reach at least 100 yards in passing.

Villanova running back DeeWil Barlee led the way on the ground with a game-high 94 yards rushing, including a 21-yard scamper in the second quarter that proved to be the decisive score. Graduate quarterback Connor Watkins completed 16-of-23 passing for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

The two scores for the Aggies came in the form of a 94-yard kick return in the first quarter by Taymon Cooke and a 25-yard designed run by true freshman quarterback Kevin White Jr., midway through the second quarter.

Cooke currently leads the nation in kickoff return touchdowns (2) and yards per kickoff return (38.9).

“He’s got incredible short space quickness, he’s got excellent long speed and probably the most underrated part of (his game) is the vision to see the openings,” said Brown about his graduate kick returner and wide receiver.

Besides that, the Aggies struggled to move the ball with any type of consistency, converting just 2 of 11 third down attempts and were 0 of 1 inside the redzone. White finished with a net total of 44 yards on the ground and completed 8-of-17 passes for 64 yards. His main target was tight end Nick Dobson who finished with four catches for 52 yards.

Things don’t get any easier this upcoming week when the Aggies venture up to Newark, Delaware to face the 8th ranked Delaware Blue Hens at 3PM EST.

Delaware currently sits at 2-0 in the CAA and 4-1 overall, after an impressing 43-17 win over Duquesne this past week. The only loss the Blue Hens have suffered this season was a week two encounter against FBS power Penn State.

Delaware quarterback Ryan O’Conner currently ranked fifth in the CAA in passing, averaging 248.4 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Blue Hens running back Marcus Yarns has rushed for 479 yards in five games, with seven touchdowns and an 8.6 yards per carry average.

“There’s no one more disappointed than I am,” said Brown. “I expect to win every single game. With that being said, we know we have some challenges in front of us and we’re going to keep building one game at a time. We go up to Delaware this week to face a very talented team. But it doesn’t matter what happened last week. All that matters is the next play, the next game.”

Despite ranking dead last in the nation in passing offense and still unable to at the quarterback position, Brown said during his press conference on Monday that he had not considered making any changes with his coaching staff at this point.

“No. We are unified in our purpose. I think it would do a disservice to our players to start moving [coaches]around and start reaching and grabbing to see if this guy can call things differently. When we lose games, we lose collectively. It is not just one aspect.”


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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