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DURHAM, N.C. – With heavy rain and wind gusts from Hurricane Matthew limiting the offense of both teams most of the day, North Carolina Central University rallied for two lead-changing touchdowns in the fourth quarter to claim a 17-13 victory over Florida A&M University inside O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Saturday.nccu eagle head

The win keeps NCCU (4-2, 3-0 MEAC) unbeaten in the MEAC and is the 11th consecutive victory over non-FBS opponents for the Eagles.

Florida A&M (1-5, 1-2 MEAC) held NCCU to just 10 yards of total offense in the first half, and used a safety by defensive end Calvin Darville and a 34-yard field goal by Colby Blanton to take a 5-3 advantage into the locker room at intermission.

Brandon McLaren’s 33-yard field goal in the second quarter represented the lone points by the Eagles in the first half.

The second half, however was a different story. NCCU amassed 209 yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes of game action, including 118 yards in the decisive fourth quarter.

NCCU’s first trip to the end zone came on a 42-yard pass play from quarterback Malcolm Bell to receiver LaVontis Smith, who finished with two receptions for 57 yards, at the 11:24 mark of the fourth quarter. McLaren’s extra-point kick provided the Eagles with a 10-5 advantage, their first of the day.

On NCCU’s next possession, a bouncing snap to the punter resulted in a loss of 15 yards and provided FAMU with excellent field position at the Eagles’ 18-yard line. Two plays later, the visiting Rattlers regained the lead thanks to an 18-yard touchdown run by Devin Bowers. FAMU converted the two-point try for a 13-10 cushion with 6:11 on the clock.

Following a critical 28-yard kickoff return by Mike Jones, NCCU needed just four plays - two rushes for 13 yards by Ramone Simpson, a 19-yard scamper by Bell and a 25-yard blast to the end zone by Dorrel McClain - to score the game-winning touchdown with 4:54left in the contest.

The outcome was then placed in the hands of the NCCU defense, which added two tackles for loss to its tally of 14 for the game, to dash FAMU’s attempt for an upset.

A stellar defensive performance by NCCU resulted in seven Eagles with six or more tackles. Antonio Brown (1.5 TFL), Alden McClellon, LeGrande Harley (2.0 TFL), and Reggie Hunter (3.5 TFL) had eight stops each, while Frederick Henry-Ajudua (2.5 TFL, 1.0 sack), Ja’Quan Smith (0.5 TFL) and Josiah Dailey (1.0 TFL) contributed six takedowns apiece.

McClain finished with a game-high 86 rushing yards with a touchdown, while Bell rushed for 61 yards anf threw for 87 yards and a score on 5-of-8 passing.

Up next, NCCU hosts Savannah State for homecoming on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. inside O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.

~NCCU Sports Information


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