O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium was filled Saturday with screaming family, friends and alumni as N.C. Central University celebrated an easy 52-12 victory over Edward Waters College, bringing the week’s homecoming festivities to a joyous end.
The Eagles started off strong with sophomore wide receiver Nique Martin running a 36-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior starting quarterback Naiil Ramadan that was followed for the final point by a kick from redshirt freshman place-kicker Adam Lippy.
Redshirt sophomore running back Isaiah Totten wasn’t far behind Martin in the first quarter, delivering NCCU another touchdown after a 22-yard run. Already up 17-0 by halftime, those two touchdowns — alongside a successful field goal from Lippy at the top of the second quarter — were all the Eagles needed to keep momentum and spirits high.
Ramadan held down his position as the homecoming game’s top passing leader for the second year in a row with a completion of 8-of-15 passes for 98 yards, but switched off with redshirt freshman Dominique Shoffner in the third quarter, who himself finished the game with 5-of-9 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown of his own.
This year’s defensive squad was led by junior defensive lineman Kawuan Cox ending the game with five total tackles and 2.5 sacks, sophomore linebacker Branden Bailey (five tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss), and redshirt senior defensive back De’Mario Evans (four tackles).
EWU just could not keep up with the energy that NCCU was bringing onto the field. The Tigers’ offense was smothered underneath the Eagles’ defensive power with only 172 total yards to their name.
Isaiah Totten was announced as the Offensive Player of the Game, leading his teammates in rushing with 133 yards and two touchdowns.
When asked about how much the title meant to him, Totten said it was a “true honor.”
“But, for me, it doesn’t mean much,” he continued. “Without my team, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They are the ones that create the path for me and all I have to do is run.”
Totten’s contributions to the team last season got him voted to the All-MEAC Second Team and ranked as fifth in the conference with an average of 65.3 rushing yards per game. Last September, Totten, now also a member of this season’s Preseason All-MEAC First Team, made school history by recording the tenth-longest run in NCCU history with an 81- yard touchdown against the Duke University Blue Devils.
NCCU (4-4, 2-2 MEAC) recorded 559 total yards, ending the game with 180 passing yards and 379 rushing yards.
Granville Eastman has proved himself formidable once again in his first year as head coach, but every success on the field has room for improvement. Though this ultimate homecoming experience may have ended in a blowout, Eagles football needs to keep its eye on the prize and use it as another opportunity to see where their biggest strengths and weaknesses lie.