Saturday, October 15, 2016

NCCU Celebrates Homecoming with 33-3 Win over Savannah State

DURHAM, North Carolina – North Carolina Central University amassed 422 yards of total offence and recorded a season-best six sacks during a 33-3 homecoming victory over Savannah State University on Saturday inside a packed O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium with a crowd of 12,966 fans.

NCCU (5-2, 4-0 MEAC) remains unbeaten in the conference with its 11th consecutive win over MEAC opposition, including seven straight to end the 2015 campaign.

A dominant defensive effort by the Eagles resulted in 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and just 141 total yards by the visiting Tigers. Junior defensive lineman Ja'Quan Smith and senior linebacker LeGrande Harley topped NCCU with eight takedowns each, with Smith contributing 1.5 hits for a loss and a sack. Linebacker Reggie Hunter and end Frederick Henry-Ajudua each collected seven tackles and 2.5 hits for a loss, while Henry-Ajudua added 1.5 sacks with a safety to increase his MEAC-leading sack total to 5.5.

NCCU's lone takeaway came via an interception by senior Ronald Conyers, his first career pick.

Senior quarterback Malcolm Bell topped NCCU's offensive attack with 388 yards of total offense, including 336 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 52 yards and another score on the ground. Bell moves to fifth on NCCU's career passing list with 5,376 yards and ranks third in total offense with 6,572 yards.

Bell connected on receptions to nine different teammates, but his favorite target on this day was sophomore Jalen Wilkes, who finished with six catches for 105 yards and a 28-yard touchdown. Four other Eagles had four receptions apiece, including Khalil Stinson (57 yards), LaVontis Smith (43 yards), Ramone Simpson (37 yards) and Jacen Murphy (30 yards).

Special teams was also a homecoming force. Nathaniel Tilque averaged 44.5 yards per punt, including a downed kick at the 1-yard line that resulted in a safety. Brandon McLaren accounted for seven points with a 21-yard field goal and four extra-point kicks. LaVontis Smith broke off a 45-yard kickoff return to finish the contest with 133 all-purpose yards. And junior Mike Jones returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown, the first score of his career.

Jones's touchdown is NCCU's 22nd special teams touchdown since the start of the 2012 season, including 13 trips to the end zone on punt returns.

Savannah State (1-4, 1-2 MEAC) was topped by a stellar defensive performance by linebacker Marquis Smith, who amassed 10 total tackles, including 4.0 hits for a loss with two solo sacks.

Up next, NCCU visits Morgan State University on Oct. 22.



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