TULSA, Okla. – Two blocked punts and two interceptions, one for touchdown, in the first 20 minutes is not what the North Carolina A&T team needed in an effort to pull off their second straight upset win over a Division I-FBS.
It is what Tulsa used in part, however, to come away with a 58-21 win over the Aggies Saturday afternoon at H.A. Chapman Stadium. The Golden Hurricane also used an explosive offense led by quarterback Dane Evans to build a halftime lead too insurmountable for the Aggies to overcome.
“We had four turnovers that led to them scoring points,” said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway. “The punting team was the worst I have ever seen it. Everything was bad from the punt protection to the punt coverage. They had their way with us as far as that is concerned. Offensively, we threw an interception for a touchdown. Basically, we put ourselves in a hole that you can’t put yourselves in against a good football team. You can’t do that against any team. You can’t overcome those things.”
Evans threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns on 19-for-29 passing. In addition, the Hurricane (2-1) had two receivers go over 100 yards. Senior Keevan Lucas caught all three of Evans’ touchdown passes and finished with four catches for 119 yards. Sophomore Justin Hobbs added seven catches for 114 yards.
N.C. A&T (2-1) was able to withstand the Hurricane’s first offensive attack. After the Hurricane drove 10 plays for 65 yards, they had a 3rd-and-goal from the Aggies 2-yard line. But redshirt sophomore linebacker Deion Jones sacked Evans, forcing a 25-yard Raeford Jones field goal for a 3-0 first-quarter lead. The Aggies defense could not hold off the Hurricane after a block of sophomore Steven Sawicki’s punt gave the Hurricane a 1st-and-goal at the Aggies 1. Senior James Flanders completed the task of making the Aggies pay for the special teams mishap by scoring on a 1-yard run.
Despite the early mishaps the Aggies started to steady themselves. They forced a Tulsa three-and-out and a 12-yard completion from starting fifth-year quarterback Oluwafemi Bamiro to tight end Leroy Hill gave the Aggies a 1st-and-10 at the Tulsa 24. But two plays later in an effort to get rid of the football under immense pressure from the Hurricane pass rush, Bamiro’s throwaway landed in the grasp of defensive end Kolton Shindler for a 65-yard pick-6 and a 17-0 Tulsa lead.
After another Bamiro interception in the first quarter, the Hurricane took over at their own 49 and Evans connected on a long 51-yard touchdown pass to Lucas for the 24-0 first-quarter advantage. The Hurricane would go on to take a 48-0 halftime lead.
“This is a team that put 52 on Virginia Tech in a bowl game, so we knew if they were capable of doing that to Virginia Tech, they were capable of doing that to us. It was a mismatch, but hopefully we can learn from it, get better from it and grow from having to play people like this. That’s the positive we’ve got to take from it.”
There were a few other positives for N.C. A&T. Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Hicklin came to N.C. A&T as a quarterback before moving to wide receiver last season. He was moved back to QB this week after sophomore quarterback Kylil Carter missed the game with an injury. Hicklin threw his first career touchdown pass, a 75-yarder to redshirt sophomore Malik Wilson in the third quarter to get the Aggies on the board.
Freshman wide receiver Elijah Bell caught five passes including a touchdown for 101 yards receiving. It marked the second straight week the Aggies produced a 100-yard receiver. Pembroke University transfer Demetrius Fairley, a senior out of Garner, rushed for 71 yards on five carries including a 40-yard run.
Courtesy: NCA&T Athletics