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NORFOLK, Va. – North Carolina Central University amassed 401 yards of total offense and forced the Spartans to settle for three red-zone field goals during a 34-31 victory over Norfolk State University in both teams’ conference opener on Saturday in William “Dick” Price Stadium.nccu eagle head

NCCU redshirt-senior quarterback Malcolm Bell, a native of Richmond, Virginia, playing his first college game in his home state, completed 18 of 26 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 77 yards and another score to become the first player in school history with more than 1,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards passing in a career. He now has 1,053 yards rushing (20th in NCCU history) and 4,658 yards passing (7th in NCCU history). Bell also moved into third on NCCU’s career total offense list with 5,711 yards.

Sophomore running back Ramone Simpson topped NCCU’s 205-yard ground attack with a game-high 97 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. The Wilmington, North Carolina native also caught five passes for 49 yards.

Senior receivers Quentin Atkinson and LaVontis Smith also had five receptions for the visiting Eagles, going for 66 and 51 yards, respectively.

Defensively, NCCU (2-2, 1-0 MEAC) sacked Norfolk State’s elusive quarterback Greg Hankerson four times and held the Spartans to three field goals with the ball inside the 10-yard line. Safety Davanta Reynolds and linebacker Reggie Hunter led the Eagles with eight tackles each, while safety Alden McClellon added seven takedowns.

NCCU junior defensive end Antonio Brown collected six tackles, including a sack and a forced fumble, and swatted away three passes. Junior tackle Ja’Quan Smith had 2.0 hits for a loss with a sack and sophomore tackle Cyrus Stanback accumulated 1.5 sacks and a recovered fumble.

NCCU senior kicker Brandon McLaren made field goals from 29 and 25 yards out, while converting all four extra-point kicks.

Hankerson charged Norfolk State by passing for 186 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for a team-high 79 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Taylor had eight receptions for 94 yards and a score for the Spartans.

Norfolk State (1-3, 0-1 MEAC) finished with 356 yards of total offense. The Spartans trailed 27-10 entering the fourth quarter, but rallied with 21 points in the final 15 minutes.

After Norfolk State kicked a field goal to narrow NCCU’s advantage to 27-23 with 11:23 remaining, the Eagles marched on a 10-play, 72-yard drive, capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Bell, to seal the victory.

Up next, NCCU visits Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida on Saturday, Oct. 1.

~NCCU Athletic Communications



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