MSU (1-5, 1-1 MEAC) vs. North Carolina Central (3-3, 1-1 MEAC)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 – 2 p.m. ET
O’Kelly Riddick Stadium (10,000)
The Bears (1-5, 1-1) will travel to face Mid-Eastern Conference opponent North Carolina Central on Saturday (Oct. 19) in Durham (N.C.). The game will mark Homecoming for the Eagles. Interim head coach Dwayne Foster leads the Eagles. NCCU (3-3, 1-1) look to bounce back from a 43-3 thrashing at the hands of South Carolina State last Thursday night. The Bears are coming off its Week 7 bye. The last time MSU was in action was on Oct. 5 when they snapped an 11-game losing streak by beating Florida A&M 34-21 during Homecoming in Baltimore. Donald Hill-Eley, ranked third among winning coaches at MSU, enters his 12th year as head coach of the Bears. Game time at O’Kelly Riddick Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live by WEAA, 88.9 FM.
THE BEARS-EAGLES MATCHUP
• The Bears and Eagles will meet for the 38th time … Morgan State leads the series 22-13-2.
• Last time against the Eagles (Oct. 13, 2012) … North Carolina Central QB Jordan Reid’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Detwan Robinson with 25.6 seconds left was the difference in Morgan State’s 24-20 heartbreaking homecoming loss to the Eagles at Hughes Stadium. It marked the first homecoming loss for the Bears since October 21, 2006. MSU RB Travis “Juice” Davidson rushed for 105 yards in 18 attempts, scoring two touchdowns and also recorded 60 yards receiving.
• The last time the Bears played the Eagles at O’Kelly Riddick Stadium was on Oct. 15, 2011 … Donald Hill-Eley coached from the booth and watched as his offense opened up with 42 first half points en route to a 52-3 rout. Travis Davidson rushed for 142 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns on runs of 49, 2 and 8 yards.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
• Dwayne Foster (Delaware State, 1993) joined NCCU in 2011 as assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach, before being elevated to interim head coach prior to the 2013 season. Previously, he served as running backs coach at Prairie View A&M University (2005-10), tight ends and running backs coach at Catholic University (2004), and offensive line coach at Bowie State University (2003).
• N.C. Central finished the 2012 season with a 6-5 overall record and went 5-3 in the MEAC.
• NCCU returns 41 lettermen, including 10 starters from last year’s team.
• NCCU QB Jordan Reid entered the season as 2013 Preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection. The High Point (N.C.) product currently ranks No. 4 in the MEAC in passing … the senior has completed 92 of 178 passes for 985 yards with a pair of touchdowns … he has also thrown two interceptions.
• Reid’s favorite targets are wideouts redshirt sophomore Adrian Wilkins and redshirt senior Marvin Poole. The pair has 17 receptions and a touchdown apiece. Wilkins has 214 reception yards compared to Poole’s 201 yards.
• NCCU LB Tazmon Foster is one of the leaders for the Eagles defense. The senior enters this weekend’s contest with 67 tackles (38 solo) with 5.0 tackles for loss thru six games.
• The Eagles’ ground attack is led by Idreis Augustus. The 5-7, 190 pound redshirt sophomore has 67 carries for 295 yards (4.4 avg) and has three touchdowns. He also has 11 catches for 86 yards.
• The Bears’ special teams unit will face one of the the top ranked return teams in the MEAC. NCCU ranks No. 1 in the league by averaging 23.7 yards per kickoff return, and ranks No. 2 in punt returns (14.1/g).
• MSU quarterbacks need to be wary throwing against N.C. Central’s secondary … Freshman cornerback Michael Jones (Baltimore, Md./Milford Mills Academy) ranks T-No. 1in the FCS with four interceptions and the Eagles rank No. 2 with nine interceptions thru the first six games of the season.
• MSU will enter the 2013 season with a number of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 12 seniors and 15 juniors.
• The Bears backfield lost All-MEAC running back Travis “Juice” Davidson to graduation, however the backfield is loaded with talented young players like Lamont Brown III, Herb Walker Jr., Tracy Martin and Orlando Johnson who will compete for the starting RB spot.
• The returning quarterback duo of Seth Higgins and Robert Council combined for 1,560 passing yards (140-of-301) and five touchdowns in 2012.
• Joe Rankin returns as a shutdown cornerback for the Bears and finished with 46 tackles and lead the MEAC with five picks in 2012.
• NT Demarco Bisbee leads a defensive line unit that returns 10 lettermen from last season … Bisbee posted 41 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and
3.5 sacks in 2012.
• LB Christopher Robinson was among the league leaders with 13.5 tackles for loss (No. 4), to go along with 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
• Chris Flowers helped lead the Bears to a No. 1 ranking in the MEAC in kickoff return average (23.0 avg) and his 27.8 kick return average ranked No. 8 in the FCS last season.
• The Bears added four new coaches to the 2013 staff … the new coaches are: Jerry Holmes (DC), Gordon Gregory (OC), LeAndre Creamer (DB) and Marcus Gladden(OL).
IMPROVING OFFENSE … The aftermath of the Bears 34-21 win against Florida A&M not only improved the team’s record to 1-5, but also gave a glimpse of Morgan State’s improving offense. The team produced a season-high 382 yards of offense against the Rattlers, and junior QB Seth Higgins led the way. On 17 carries, Higgins, rushed for a career-high 102 yards and accounted for three touchdowns. With Higgins running so well, the Bears should continue to see success with the read-option moving forward.
TIME IS ON OUR SIDE … The Bears notched their third game of the season with a time of possession of more than 30 minutes. The Bears held a season-high 37:30 – 22:30 advantage in the win against Florida A&M. The Bears currently rank among the league leaders ranked No. 3 in the MEAC in time of possession (30:31 avg/g).
FINISHING TOUCHES … Morgan State has been pretty good this season when it comes to scoring in the red zone. Through the first six games, the Bears have scored 13-of-17 (77%) times inside its opponent’s 20 yardline. MSU ranks No. 7 in the MEAC in red zone scoring.
GETTING DEFENSIVE … The Morgan State defense has six players with at least 20 tackles so far this season.
• Junior linebacker Cody Acker leads the way with 58 stops (T-6th in MEAC), including a season-high 14 tackles against Norfolk State (Sept. 28).
• The next highest is senior Darien Irby who has posted 29 tackles from his starting strong safety position.
NO SACKS FOR YOU … Since allowing 6.0 sacks against Robert Morris, the Morgan State offensive line has allowed just one sack over the next four games and none over the past three games at Western Kentucky and home against Norfolk State and Florida A&M.
HIGGINS STANDS TALL IN QB CAROUSEL … With Robert Council, Moses Skillon and Ricky Fisk jockeying for additional playing time, Seth Higgins appears to be the lone starter for the Bears. The junior played the entire game against Norfolk State and accounted for three touchdowns. He led the Bears to its first win of the season against Florida A&M by completing 12 of 20 passes for 144 yds and a TD. He also rushed for a career-high 102 yards on 17 carries, including a 2-yard TD.
COLLECTING INTERCEPTIONS … The Bears have recorded eight interceptions through six games. CB Joe Rankin has a pair of picks, while SS Peterson Janvier, CBDeShaun Summers, and LBs Bill Hill and Cody Acker each have an interception to their credit. MSU’s defense currently ranks T-22 in the FCS in interceptions and No. 7 in passing yards allowed (146.7 avg).