On a day set to honor veterans and first responders, N.C. Central University’s football team went through a tough fight of their own defeating the Howard University Bisons 40-35 last Saturday at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
This game would be all about offense as both teams finished with over 500 total yards and both quarterbacks
The Howard Bison offense hit the field first putting together a progressive drive. Their hopes of putting the first six points on the board ended as the Eagles defense made an impressive red zone stop leading the Bisons settling for a field goal.
After an abysmal performance the week prior against Florida A&M, The Eagles offensive unit looked make a bigger impact on the game with Sophomore quarterback Chauncey Caldwell started the game as quarterback and Redshirt sophomore running back Isaiah Totten returning from injury.
Both men made their presence felt immediately with a big time run from Caldwell that set the team up in perfect scoring position in which Totten capping the drive off with a stroll into the end zone.
On the other side of the ball, The Eagles get another big defensive stop near the goal line. Momentum then shifted after a miscommunication between Caldwell and Totten led to Caldwell being sacked in the endzone for a safety.
Throughout the entire game, Bisons quarterback Caylin Newton gave the Eagles defense problems with his elusiveness in and outside of the pocket. He would also showcase his impressive arm with a touchdown pass to Jequez Ezzard.
The Howard defense was coming strong but Caldwell would find a way to escape the pressure and throw a 35-yard strike to wide open Sophomore receiver Daeshawn Stephens who would find his way into the endzone making the score, 14-12.
Newton would find Ezzard once again for a 54-yard score but the Eagles would answer back with a 17-yard touchdown connection from Caldwell to Sophomore receiver Isaiah Hicks and a 42-yard field goal from redshirt freshman kicker Adam Lippy making the score, 24-19 going into the halftime break.
The Eagles would receive the ball and add on to their lead with 38-yard score from Eagles receiver Xavier McKoy. The back and forth battle would continue with Bison receiver Jequez Ezzard getting his number called once again with a 7-yard touchdown catch.
The fourth quarter became a nailbiter as the lead changed hands between the two teams four times. NCCU head coach Granville Eastman predicted this saying “I knew it was going to come down to who had the ball last kind of deal just by the way the game was going back and forth.”
Down by 1 point, The Eagles offense had less than a minute to drive down the field in order to secure a victory.Caldwell put the team on his back by putting together a 9-play drive and muscling his way into the endzone with a 3-yard go ahead score.
Fans erupted from the stands but had to settle down realizing that there was :24 seconds still left on the clock. A devastating loss last season to Bethune-Cookman would sit in the minds of many as a tipped pass in the endzone lead the Wildcats scoring and winning the game in the final seconds.
Eagles fan began to worry once again as the Bison offense quickly drove down the field. With the game on the line, Newton threw a lob into the endzone towards Ezzard but the pass was intercepted by Sophomore cornerback Marcus Martin to seal the victory.
“Last week [against FAMU] in my opinion, was a fluke.” stated Caldwell “ We got together and bought in and we produced this week.”
Despite failing to complete a single pass in the week prior, Chauncey Caldwell showed out big this week. Considered to be the best game of his collegiate career, Caldwell finished the game with a career high, 464 yards of total offense with 311 passing yards and 153 rushing yards.
The Eagles will look to take this momentum into their Bye Week and prepare to travel Norfolk State University on Oct. 20.