DURHAM, N.C. – With three straight conference championships and a trip to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to build on, North Carolina Central University’s 2017 schedule features three newcomers, two Triangle area foes and six home games inside O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
The 2016 Eagles collected the most wins in the program’s Division I era with a 9-3 overall record and an unbeaten 8-0 mark in league play, finishing the season as the 19th ranked team in the FCS Coaches Poll. NCCU defeated nationally-ranked North Carolina A&T to capture the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship and earn the league’s bid to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
NCCU broke the school’s single-season record with 4,614 yards of total offense, averaging 384.5 total yards per game, and became the second-highest scoring team in school history with 347 points. The Eagles made more history by becoming the first NCCU football team to win a third consecutive conference championship, and are riding a 15-game win streak against MEAC teams entering the 2017 campaign.
NCCU kicks off the 2017 season on Sept. 2 against Durham neighbor Duke University in the Bull City Gridiron Classic. The Blue Devils have won all five contests in the series with the Eagles that started in 2009, including last year’s 49-6 outcome.
The Eagles’ first home game is on Sept. 9 versus Shaw, a former Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) opponent, in the “Prince Hall Shriners Diabetes Classic” at 6 p.m. inside O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. NCCU holds a 30-8-1 series advantage over the Bears. The Eagles own a 20-game win streak versus Shaw, including 21-12 victory in the last meeting on Sept. 9, 2006 in Durham. Shaw’s last win in the series was a 20-0 shutout on Nov. 19, 1949. Second-year Shaw head coach Adrian Jones is a Durham, North Carolina native and former NCCU football student-athlete and coach.
Following a bye week, NCCU will begin its quest for a fourth consecutive MEAC title by hosting South Carolina State on Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. The Eagles last played the Bulldogs in 2014, resulting in a 48-35 NCCU road victory. The last time S.C. State visited O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium was in 2013. The Bulldogs lead the series 12-10 since the first match-up in 1927.
The Eagles then leave Durham for the first time with back-to-back road games, first visiting the Sunshine State for a Sept. 30 clash against Florida A&M. The Rattlers lead the series 6-3-1, but the Eagles have won the last two outings, including last year’s 17-13 victory played in treacherous weather conditions during Hurricane Matthew.
NCCU travels to the nation’s capital to challenge Howard on Oct. 7. The Eagles have downed the Bison in five straight contests to take an 11-9-1 advantage in the series, including last season’s 30-21 triumph.
The Eagles return to the Bull City for three consecutive home games, starting with a non-conference match-up with Gardner-Webb of the Big South Conference on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. NCCU and the Runnin’ Bulldogs have met four times, from 1996-99, with each winning on the road for a 2-2 series tie. Gardner-Webb won the last contest 16-0 on Sept. 11, 1999.
NCCU returns to MEAC action by hosting Norfolk State on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. The Eagles edged the Spartans 34-31 in Virginia last season for their fourth straight win over NSU to improve their series advantage to 9-5.
The Eagles wrap up a three-game home stand by celebrating homecoming with a confrontation against Delaware State on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. NCCU has won eight of the last nine meetings against the Hornets, including four in-a-row, to improve its series lead over DSU to 17-6. The Eagles also boast a record of 62-19-2 (.759 winning percentage) on homecoming since 1931.
Hampton returns to the NCCU schedule for the first time since 2014 in a Nov. 4 showdown in Virginia. The Pirates lead the series 18-6 since the teams first met in 1924. Hampton has won eight of the past 10 meetings, but NCCU took the last meeting 47-13 in Durham.
NCCU will salute its seniors on Nov. 11 prior to a 2 p.m. kickoff against Bethune-Cookman in the final home game of the season. The Eagles snapped a six-game losing skid to the Wildcats with a 31-14 win in Daytona Beach last year.
The Eagles close out the 2017 regular season with the 89th meeting against rival North Carolina A&T on Nov. 18 in Greensboro. In each of the last three seasons, NCCU wrapped up the campaign with wins over the nationally-ranked Aggies with the conference title on the line. Last year’s 42-21 victory propelled the Eagles to the second annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
The Eagles look to make a return trip to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to help christen the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta against the champion from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
NCCU will hold its spring football game on Saturday, April 22 at 1 p.m. inside O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Details about NCCU football season tickets will be announced on Friday, Jan. 27.
2017 North Carolina Central Football Schedule
|9/2/17||Duke University||Durham, NC – Wallace Wade Stadium||TBA|
|9/9/17||Shaw University||Durham, NC – O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium||6:00 p.m.|
|9/23/17||South Carolina State University||Durham, NC – O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium||4:00 p.m.|
|9/30/17||Florida A&M University||Tallahassee, FL||TBA|
|10/7/17||Howard University||Washington, DC||TBA|
|10/14/17||Gardner-Webb University||Durham, NC – O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium||2:00 p.m.|
|10/21/17||Norfolk State University||Durham, NC – O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium||2:00 p.m.|
|10/28/17||Delaware State University||Durham, NC – O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium||2:00 p.m.|
|11/4/17||Hampton University||Hampton, VA||1:00 p.m.|
|11/11/17||Bethune-Cookman University||Durham, NC – O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium||2:00 p.m.|
|11/18/17||North Carolina A&T State University||Greensboro, NC||TBA|
Courtesy: NCCU Athletics