Sunday, April 17, 2016

A&T Blue & Gold Game Ends In A Tie

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
GREENSBORO, North Carolina  -- North Carolina A&T stepped back on the football field in competition for the first time in five months on Saturday in the Aggies annual Blue & Gold Spring Game at Aggie Stadium with a few constants. N.C. A&T’s defense is really good. The offense is still a work in progress and the Aggies will have a pretty good quarterback battle on their hands when the practice starts in August.

Five months after winning their second straight MEAC title, the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl and the school’s third Black College Football National Championship, the Blue & Gold finished in a 14-14 tie. The Blue team featured the Aggies first-team offense and second-team defense while the Gold played with the first-team defense and second-team offense. Both Aggie defenses looked superb even though the Gold did not have to face All-American running back Tarik Cohen who did not play. Without Cohen, the Aggies did had a touchdown on the ground as rising sophomore Keevin Thompson scored on an 18-yard touchdown run for Gold.

Defensively, rising junior outside linebacker Jeremy Taylor and rising sophomore Kiaundric Richardson were swarming to the ball all day for the Gold. Meanwhile rising junior defensive back Jerome Beatty and rising senior Tyree Andrews had some good pursuits to the football for Gold.

“I think it starts with the defensive staff. Everybody is on the same page and have been on the same page defensively as far as what we try to do and how we try to do things,” said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway about an Aggies defense that has been one of the best in FCS play since he arrived in Greensboro in 2011. “I think (defensive coordinator Sam Washington) does a good job with the staff in making sure they know exactly how we want things done.”

There was some offense on Saturday. Rising senior Denzel Keyes looks primed to improve on his second-team All-MEAC season from 2015. Keyes, who became a huge threat inside the opponents’ 20-yard line with his 6-foot-4 frame and leaping ability, looked at little more diverse on Saturday. There were times on Saturday when Keyes looked difficult for smaller defensive backs to deal with in the open field. His day was capped off by a 50-yard touchdown pass from rising senior quarterback Oluwafemi Bamiro for the Blue.

“He’s got to have a big year for us,” said Broadway about Keyes. “His batting average needs to be a little bit better than it is right now because we threw quite a few balls to him last season, and he could not come up with enough of them. My challenge to him would be to improve his hitting. He was a good hitter last year. We need him to be a great hitter.” 

Rising sophomore quarterback Lamar Raynard had two touchdown tosses, a 26-yarder to Virginia Tech transfer Carlis Parker (for Blue) and an 84-yard bomb to rising sophomore receiver Malik Wilson (for Gold).

Raynard started the 2015 season as the starter before rising sophomore Kylil Carter emerged late in the season with a game-winning touchdown pass at S.C. State along with significant playing time in the Aggies remaining three games. The Aggies also have Bamiro and they signed a quarterback during National Signing Day. N.C. A&T played three different QBs last year.

“They all have things that they can do and it’s going to be a heckuva battle come fall,” said Broadway. “I may just have to see how much they progress over the course of the summer. All three of those guys can throw, and all three of them are working hard so it’s going to be a challenge to see which one of them can rise to the top”


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