WASHINGTON, D.C. – The matchup of the top two leading rushers in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – North Carolina A&T’s Tarik Cohen and Howard’s Anthony Philyaw – was really a matchup between Philyaw and the conference’s No. 1 rush defense in N.C. A&T.
The Aggies “D’” earned a decisive victory, which led the No. 1 team in black college football, the N.C. A&T Aggies, to a 34-7 win over the Bison at Greene Stadium Saturday afternoon during their homecoming. The win was the Aggies (6-1, 4-0 MEAC) fourth straight overall and fifth straight against the Bison (1-7, 1-4 MEAC).
Philyaw, who came into the game averaging 126.2 yards per game, was held to 27 yards on 17 carries. As a team, the Bison were held to just 50 yards rushing. Every Aggie opponent has been held under 100 yards rushing this season except Tulsa.
“He’s a very talented player,” said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway about Philyaw. “We knew we were going to have put a hat on hat to get him down. He is a very determined runner. I thought we did a good job for the most part.”
Meanwhile his counterpart in Cohen went about having another day where he reached significant milestones. Cohen became the 26th back in NCAA FCS history to rush for more than 5,000 yards in a career when he exceeded the mark on a 5-yard run four minutes into the fourth quarter. On a 26-yard run later in the fourth quarter, Cohen became the 10th player in FCS history to record four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
On the day, Cohen finished with 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He also scored on a 45-yard TD reception.
“I don’t know what there is left to say,” said Broadway about his FCS Player of the Year candidate. “He’s something to watch, and I enjoying watching him as much as everyone else because people enjoy watching greatness. And he’s something else.”
Cohen, who needed 79 yards to reach 5,000 and 110 yards to reach 1,000, started his assault on NCAA history with four straight carries to open the game. The Aggies first drive ended with a 16-yard Cohen touchdown. After the Bison lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage, which was recovered by N.C. A&T’s Julian McKnight, the Aggies took over at the Howard 20-yard line. Four plays later, Raynard connected with Keyes for a 3-yard score and a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
N.C. A&T threatened to break the game open in the first quarter as Ernest Bush recovered a muffed punt at the Howard 27. Raynard quickly connected with his tight end Leroy Hill, who appeared headed for another Aggies touchdown. But as he leaped and stretched for the end zone, he fumbled and the Bison recovered. N.C. A&T scored on two field goals in the second quarter, both after the Aggies reached the end zone, to go into halftime leading 20-0.
“I thought we had a chance to put the game away in the first quarter but mistakes and penalties really hurt us,” said Broadway. “We’ve got to cleanup a lot of things before we can become the championship team we want to become.”
If it were not certain the Aggies were in command of the game in the first half, it was made clear to open the second half as Cohen took a screen pass from Raynard and scored on a 45-yard TD reception, the third of his career. Keyes closed out the scoring with his second touchdown reception of the game, and the 22nd of his career, on a 9-yard slant that gave the Aggies a 34-0 lead.
Howard (1-7, 1-4 MEAC), however, missed out on being the Aggies third shutout victim of the season by scoring on a Jason Collins 1-yard touchdown with 3:03 remaining in the game. Jeremy Taylor led the Aggies with eight tackles, while Marcus Albert and Deion Jones had seven tackles apiece.
N.C. A&T will host the Greatest Homecoming On Earth 1 p.m., Saturday at Aggie Stadium against Florida A&M.
Courtesy: NCA&T Athletics