The seniors of N.C. Central University’s football team were only thing worth celebrating Saturday.
The Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats scored a touchdown on the last play of the game and, as a result, knocked NCCU out of contention to win a fourth consecutive MEAC championship.
In the early stages of this match-up, it became inevitable that this game would be all about defense with both teams struggling offensively.
Eagles defense was able to hold the Wildcats to only 178 total yards with senior linebackers Kenneth “Tank” O’Neal and Reggie Hunter leading defense with 13 total tackles.
The game was very close with neither team able to find any offensive advantage. Both entered halftime scoreless.
Bethune-Cookman ended the scoreless drought with a 1-yard run by quarterback Akevious Williams in the third quarter. NCCU tried to capitalize with a touchdown of their own but were stopped short of a first down, leading them to settle for a field goal instead.
On fourth and goal late in the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Chauncey Caldwell threw a 4-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Xavier McKoy to gain a 10-7 lead with 16 seconds left on the clock.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty would cost the Eagles in the end—Wildcats were able to get good enough field position from there for one last chance to score.
With 5 seconds left on the clock, Bethune-Cookman quarterback Larry Brihm Jr. heaved up a 48-yard Hail Mary towards the end zone. The ball was tipped before wide receiver Keavon Mitchell made the game-winning catch.
The 13-10 loss gives the Eagles a 5-2 conference record.
Head coach Jerry Mack understood his players’ pain in the aftermath of such a devastating loss.
“They did every single thing we asked them to do, and that’s part of the disappointment when you lose a game like that,” Mack said. “That’s probably one of the worst ways to lose a game.”
NCCU are set to face their rival, North Carolina A&T in the annual Aggie-Eagle Classic for the final game of the regular season. The Aggies are currently undefeated.