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After a win at Norfolk State, A&T Aggies prep to battle Villanova


A&T sophomore running back Kenji Christian (#7) finished with 118-yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns in the Aggies’ 28-26 win over the Norfolk State Spartans. Photo by Kevin Dorsey/Carolina Peacemaker.[/caption]

It’s been a tough first month on the job for new A&T football coach Vincent Brown, but throughout his team’s 0-3 start which was plagued by double digit losses and an anemic passing offense, he was able to maintain steadfast optimism.

So, this Monday, when he returned to the weekly press conference following A&T’s dramatic 28-26 victory over Norfolk State – his first career win as a head coach, it was noticeable when Brown delivered his trademark greeting with a little extra exuberance.

“It’s a great day in Aggieland, and I truly mean it,” declared Brown to the large group of media members and alumni gathered inside A&T’s Student Center.

“Congratulations to our players and coaches for persevering through what has been some very challenging last few weeks. We know there are greater days ahead for us and for our program.”

Freshman QB Kevin White (#10) completed 6-of-10 passes for 98-yards while rushing for 115-yards on 11 attempts and two touchdowns in the Aggies first win of the season. Photo by Kevin Dorsey/Carolina Peacemaker.
The win silenced any critics who were wondering if the Aggies were destined for a winless season and served as the grand debut for true freshman quarterback Kevin White Jr., who just might be a star in the making.

White, who was playing at nearby Green Run High School in Virginia Beach this time last year, showcased his elite track speed against NSU last Saturday with touchdown runs of 65 and 40 yards.

He finished with 115 yards rushing on 11 carries, and also completed six of 10 passes for 98 yards and one interception. It was the first time an Aggie quarterback has rushed for 100 yards in a game since Kwashawn Quick did it against Alabama A&M in 2014.

“We felt like coming out of our bye week that Kevin had made a lot of progress over the past few weeks,” said Brown. “With some of the challenges we had in the earlier games, we felt like some of the things he was able to do with his legs might give us a greater opportunity to come out ahead.”

A&T (1-3 overall, 0-1 CAA) entered the NSU contest having scored only one offensive touchdown all season, but the Aggies reached the end zone four times against the Spartans.

Although Brown was somewhat noncommittal during the press conference, White’s performance almost certainly earned him another start this upcoming weekend when A&T returns home to Truist Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7 for their first-ever encounter against CAA foe Villanova.

Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. on what is being promoted as Community Awareness Day.

“We’re going to evaluate every player, every play in practice and we’ll see what happens,” said Brown. “But if you look at the last game and how it unfolded, we scored more points Saturday than we did the previous three games combined which is something that’s very important. It’s great to throw for two or three hundred yards and run for three or four hundred, but at the end of the day it’s all about points. It’s all about producing points offensively and defensively, keeping points off the board.”

The Wildcats (3-2 overall, 1-1 CAA) are coming off a surprising 31-10 road loss to Albany in which they were held scoreless the entire second half. That was a stark contrast from the previous week when Villanova routed 17th ranked Rhode Island at home, 35-9.

Villanova is led by dual threat quarterback Conner Watkins, who currently has 937 passing yards and five touchdowns through five games. However, the strength of the Wildcats’ offense is their stout ground attack, which ranks third in the CAA with a 250.5 rushing yards per game average.

“They are a very well coached team,” said Brown. “Coach (Mark) Ferrante has done a great job of building that program. They were a quarterfinal (playoff) team just a couple of years ago.”

Defensively, the Aggies are hoping to get another stellar performance this Saturday from senior linebacker BJ Turner, who earned CAA Player of the Week honors after recording a career-high 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup against NSU.

Turner currently leads the nation in solo tackles per game (9.0) and ranks third with 54 total tackles.

“BJ has been one of the best players in the country throughout the first four weeks of the season,” said Brown. “He has been unbelievable. He has a high motor and a high football IQ. Football is important to him. He asks great questions; he has a great understanding of the game, and he really has become the heart and soul of our defense.”