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HBCU Game Time

Primetime Games in HBCU Football

Thank you for joining me as a write HBCU Game Time, powered by BOX TO ROW for JET!  As host of the national sports talk radio show “From the Press Box to Press Row,” I cover all sports, with an emphasis on our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

There is only one undefeated HBCU football team.

Livingstone???

As mentioned last week, the Blue Bear program had fallen on some hard times since winning back-to-back CIAA championships in 1997 and 1998. There have been no winning seasons and three winless seasons during that stretch.

Junior quarterback Drew Powell has been one of the best quarterbacks in the CIAA the last three years and has been sensational for the Blue Bears. He leads the CIAA in passing (242 yards per game), touchdowns thrown (14), rushing touchdowns (4), total offense (314 yards per game) and is fourth in the CIAA in rushing (72 yards per game). His favorite target his Jalen Hendricks leads the conference in receptions (32), receiving yards (548) and receiving touchdowns (8).

For the first time ever, the Blue Bears snuck into the BOXTOROW Media poll at No. 9.

BOXTOROW National Games of the Week

Alabama State (4-1, 2-0) vs. Alcorn State (4-1, 2-0)

The Thursday night tilt on ESPNU could go a long way in determining the outcome in the SWAC’s Eastern Division. The winner of this game will be the unquestioned best team in the SWAC.

Alcorn State has shown that last year’s 9-3 mark was not a fluke. While its schedule hasn’t been the most difficult with wins over Virginia University of Lynchburg, Louisiana College and Mississippi Valley State, those wins were by a combined score of 159-26. The lone loss was to FBS opponent Southern Mississippi 26-20 and the Braves are coming off a 56-16 drubbing of Southern, the defending SWAC champs.

The Braves have literally gotten it done in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams – ranking first or second in all major categories. Offensively, the running game has been its strength as the Braves average 318 yards per game on the ground. After a strong 2013 season quarterback John Gibbs, Jr. has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start completing 57 percent of its passes for 796 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions, but could have some success against a Hornets defense that gives up 267 yards passing per game.

Similarly, Alabama State lost its first game of the season to nationally-ranked Sam Houston State. The Hornets have since won four-straight including a big 27-21 win over Tennessee State. Like Alcorn, Alabama State is tops in most major categories with the exception of defense where the Hornets give up close to 400 yards per game.

Malcolm Cyrus is the best running back in the SWAC and is averaging 144 yards rushing per game, 7.1 yards per carry with four touchdowns.

North Carolina A&T (4-1, 1-0) vs. South Carolina State (3-2, 1-0)

Both Carolina teams will travel will be part of the annual Atlanta Football Classic which will be shown on ESPN3. Last year’s meeting also in Atlanta was the turning point for both teams. SCSU won 29-24 and ultimately earned a share of the MEAC championship. Meanwhile, it was the first loss for the Aggies and began a three-game slide.

The Aggies have gotten off to another great start. Offensively, running back Tarik Cohen has been arguably the best running back on the MEAC. He has rushed for 563 yards, 9.4 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Kwashaun Quick has also been very effective for the Aggies completing 55 percent of his passes for 724 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions and he has also rushed for another 330 yards and six touchdowns. Cohen did not play in the Aggies 38-22 victory over Howard due to injury and Quick sat out the second half because of injury. Both are expected to play against South Carolina State.

The Bulldogs have won their last two games after a slow start including a 17-7 win over then No. 21 Furman. The strength of the offense is the running game particularly with the return of Jalen Simmons who sat out last season due to injury. Simmons has rushed for 440 yards and four touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry.

Cohen and the Aggies could find running difficult against a formidable SCSU front four, led by tackle Javon Hargrove (23 tackles 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks).

About Donal Ware

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

Donal Ware is the authority on HBCU football.  Listen to Box to Row on Fridays 1p ET/10a PT on SiriusXM Channel 141 and Saturdays 12p/9a PT on SiriusXM Channel 142. You can follow Donal Ware on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorow and Facebook /box2row. Please share your thoughts at digitalpitches@ebony.com.