Celebration Bowl Matchup Brings a Lot of Familiarity
The clash between two Black College Football Heavyweights will take place again at The Celebration Bowl, December 21st, live from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, noon kickoff. Alcorn State solidified their position last Saturday with a win in the SWAC Championship over Southern, while North Carolina A&T was already locked in the game by virtue of their win over South Carolina State and Florida A&M not being eligible for postseason play.
A&T and Alcorn played a classic battle in last years’ game, with the Aggies winning 24-22 by virtue of a failed 2-pt conversion, the Braves come into this contest with the ultimate revenge factor. They also come in with a very good team, going 9-3 overall, 6-1 in the SWAC. Alcorn has proven its big play capabilities on both offense and defense.
Leading the attack on offense is Quarterback Felix Harper, who is throwing at a 60% completion percentage, 2,613 yards, with 30 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. The leading receivers are Chris Blair and LeCharles Pringle. Pringle is an absolute scoring machine with 14 touchdowns. The ground attack is led by Freshman Niko Duffey with 790 yards on 152 attempts, but many others have run the ball for Alcorn. On defense, the Braves give up nearly 20 points a game, however they are a very opportunistic team with 21 interceptions on the year. They are led in tackles by Solomon Muhammad. The 6-1, 235-pound Senior Linebacker has 81 tackles, along with 2 interceptions.
For North Carolina A&T, the offense is led by Quarterback Kylil Carter who replaced a legend in Lamar Raynard. Carter has a 54% completion percentage to go along with 1,856 yards, and 12 touchdowns, with just three interceptions. He is also a threat to run, averaging 43 yards on the ground per game. Elijah Bell continues to be the receiving threat on the outside, with 782 yards, and six touchdowns. The major strength of the Aggie Offense is Running back Jah-Maine Martin. The Redshirt Junior has rushed for 1,336 yards, 21 touchdowns, and has averaged a whopping 121 yards a game. On defense, Kyin Howard has led this attack from his linebacker position with 70 total tackles. They have not been as opportunistic on defense, only having 11 interceptions on the year.
The two head coaches for this game, Fred McNair for Alcorn and Sam Washington for North Carolina A&T, know each other extremely well. The game will come down to some very basic intangibles; the ability to block, tackle, and defend the pass. Alcorn will have to use its passing attack to neutralize the front for A&T and score points, while A&T will have to run the ball well to keep Alcorn off the field and limit their big play opportunities. It should be another great contest in Atlanta.