Last Updated 10:52 PM, August 28, 2021

North Carolina Central beats Alcorn State to win MEAC/SWAC Challenge

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2:37 am, August 29, 2021

Postgame recap: North Carolina Central 23, Alcorn State 14

North Carolina Central opened the HBCU football season with a 23-14 win over Alcorn State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge.

The teams played a tightly contested first half. Alcorn State WR Juan Anthony Jr. scored a touchdown on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. That would be all the scoring in the half for the Braves; their following three drives reached Eagle territory, but did not result in points.

North Carolina Central played a bend but don’t break style of defense in the first half as DB Manny Smith recovered a fumble to get a red zone stop. The offense finally got points on the board with 23 seconds to spare in the half as QB Davius Richard rushed six yards for the score.

After a thrilling battle of the bands, North Carolina Central opened the second half with a nine-play touchdown drive, capped off by Richard’s second rushing touchdown. The kicker missed the extra point.

Alcorn State answered with a touchdown of their own as QB Felix Harper found RB Niko Duffey in the flat to retake the lead 14-13 in the third quarter.

After the Eagles kicked a field to open the fourth quarter with a 16-14 lead, Alcorn State got the ball back with 13:30 remaining in the game. North Carolina Central would force a punt on the ensuing drive. Alcorn State’s punt traveled 43 yards in the air before Brandon Codrington returned the ball 77 yards to the end zone giving the Eagles a 23-14 lead.

That would be all she wrote for the Braves. North Carolina Central’s defense was able to hold Alcorn State’s offense in check for the final quarter and hold on to win the game 23-14.

Stats from the MEAC/SWAC Challenge
2:33 am, August 29, 2021

North Carolina Central wins 23-14

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is in the books! North Carolina Central defeats Alcorn State 23-14 to open the 2021 HBCU football season.
1:53 am, August 29, 2021

Brandon Codrington's punt return gives the Eagles a 23-14 lead

North Carolina Central's Brandon Codrington returned an Alcorn State punt 77 yards to the house to give the Eagles a nine point lead. Codrington was named to the preseason All-MEAC first team as a return specialist.

North Carolina Central 23, Alcorn State 14. 11:21 remains in the fourth quarter.

1:47 am, August 29, 2021

Fourth quarter opens with Eagle field goal: North Carolina Central 16, 14 Alcorn State

We have entered the final frame of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. North Carolina Central opened the quarter with a field goal with 13:39 remaining. The Eagles lead 16-14.

1:33 am, August 29, 2021

Special Teams error leads to Braves touchdown

Alcorn State leads 14-13 with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter.

The drive began after the Braves tackled Eagles punter Juan Velarde to set themselves up with great field position at the Eagles 28-yard line. Six plays later, QB Felix Harper rolled out to his left and found RB Niko Duffey in the flat for the score.

1:09 am, August 29, 2021

North Carolina Central takes first lead, 13-7

With 10:25 in the third quarter, North Carolina Central has taken their first lead of the game. 

QB Davius Richard scored his second rushing touchdown of the game. The drive featured three plays of 15 yards or more.

After the touchdown, the extra point was blocked. The Eagles lead 13-7.

1:30 am, August 29, 2021

Battle of the Bands

An HBCU halftime is not a break from the action. Check out the halftime performance from Alcorn State and North Carolina State's bands!

12:46 am, August 29, 2021

First half recap: Braves, Eagles tied 7-7

After one half, Alcorn State and North Carolina Central are tied 7-7.

Alcorn State began the scoring effort with a 20-yard catch and run as WR Juan Anthony Jr. ran in for the score. The touchdown capped off a 10-play, 65-yard drive.

After North Carolina Central punted on their opening drive, the Braves drove 78 yards to the Eagle 15-yard line, but failed to come away with points after a 32-yard field goal went wide left.

The Eagles would punt once again on the following drive, putting their defense on the field once again. Alcorn State would have another drive deep into opposing territory. However this time, North Carolina Central's defense got off the field after DB Manny Smith recovered a fumble from QB Felix Harper.

After another North Carolina Central punt was followed by Alcorn State turning the ball over on downs, the Eagles got the ball with a chance put points on the board before halftime. The North Carolina Central offense finally reached pay dirt as QB Davius Richard accounted for 54 total yards and scored the game-tying touchdown.

Both teams will enter the second half looking to pull away and open the season with a win.

12:31 am, August 29, 2021

The Eagles tie the game before halftime

QB Davius Richard's six-yard run on a quarterback draw has tied the score with 0:23 to go in the second quarter.

North Carolina Central's drive began at their own 43-yard line after forcing a turnover on downs. The drive was highlighted by a 33-yard completion from Richard to WR Daeshawn Stephens to get the Eagles into the red zone. 

12:09 am, August 29, 2021

Fumble! Alcorn State fumble recovered by North Carolina Central

Poised to score at the North Carolina Central 25-yard line, Alcorn State QB Felix Harper fumbled away the ball as he attempted a pass. The ball was recovered by Eagle DB Manny Smith. Alcorn State remains in front 7-0.

11:53 pm, August 28, 2021

First quarter results

The first quarter is in the books! Alcorn State leads North Carolina Central 7-0.

The opening touchdown was scored by WR Juan Anthony Jr., who displayed his run after the catch ability on his way to the endzone. The Eagles were unable to get anything going despite a strong effort. The Braves had another chance to score after a spectacular 68-yard run by RB Stadford Anderson, but came up short after a missed field goal.

11:36 pm, August 28, 2021

Isaiah Totten shows off his moves

ALL-MEAC RB Isaiah Totten pressed the circle button on this first quarter run.  North Carolina Central was unable to get points on the drive and were forced to punt. Alcorn remains on top 7-0.

11:22 pm, August 28, 2021

Alcorn State scores the first HBCU touchdown

Early in the first quarter, QB Felix Harper found WR Juan Anthony Jr. on a hitch route. Anthony Jr. did the rest and took the ball to the house. Alcorn State leads 7-0.

8:55 pm, August 28, 2021

Pregame: Alcorn State vs. North Carolina Central

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is almost here! Alcorn State will take on North Carolina Central in a primetime HBCU battle. Both teams make their return after a year-long absence to take center stage in Atlanta, GA. 

Alcorn State enters this game led by QB Felix Harper. Harper has landed on numerous preseason awards lists and will have top target WR LeCharles Pringle on the outside. Defensively, a strong secondary led by DB Juwan Taylor will look to make game-changing plays.

North Carolina Central returns a strong rushing attack powered by All-MEAC RB Isaiah Totten. Totten has over 2,000 yards in his career and will look to add more on a national stage. The Eagles will look to veterans on defense like DB Stephen Stokes to shut down the Braves offense and get Totten extra touches.

North Carolina Central and Alcorn State will look to put on a show with all eyes on them in the opening weekend.  A win for either team will send a statement across the HBCU landscape.

Here is the schedule for Saturday night's game in Atlanta:

— NCCU Athletics (@NCCUAthletics) August 28, 2021
4:10 pm, August 28, 2021

The College GameDay picks are in!

The 2021 MEAC/SWAC Challenge hosted the first College GameDay of the season, filling the morning with energy.

The morning began with the bands from Alcorn State and North Carolina Central filling the air with music.

Later in the morning came student performances from the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities. Grammy-nominated music group Migos also performed on the College GameDay stage; after their performance, the trio would make their prediction for tonight's game.

The predictions continued as College GameDay's hosts made their first picks of the season, joined by guest host Pro Football Hall of Famer and first-year Tennessee State head coach Eddie George.

The morning was capped off by the in-person return of Lee Corso. Find out his MEAC/SWAC Challenge pick here.

3:38 pm, August 27, 2021

Friday Festivities: MEAC/SWAC Challenge brings national exposure

Alcorn State and North Carolina Central have arrived in Atlanta, GA for tomorrow's MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Before game day, the Braves and Eagles received national exposure with appearances on Good Morning America and First Take.

The teams will each get one more practice in before game day tomorrow.

4:03 pm, August 24, 2021

How to watch Alcorn State vs. North Carolina Central

The opening weekend of the 2021 college football season kicks off with an HBCU clash. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge will feature Alcorn State and North Carolina in a neutral site game in Atlanta Georgia. College GameDay will be in attendance for the Week 0 event. Both the Braves and Eagles will look to shine on the national stage and start off their season on the right foot.

  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 28
  • TV channel: ESPN
  • Streaming: ESPN.com
  • Location: Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Stats: Follow live here

Click or tap here for a complete list of Week 1 TV info.

4:04 pm, August 24, 2021

Previewing Alcorn State vs. North Carolina Central

The 2021 college football season gets underway with Week 0 and a primetime HBCU battle when Alcorn State takes on North Carolina Central in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge.

The 2021 MEAC/SWAC Challenge will be played at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. Alcorn State and North Carolina Central will also open the season for College GameDay as the game will air live on ESPN.

The primetime matchup will mark the first game action for both the Braves and Eagles since 2019. Both teams opted out of the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19.

Alcorn State’s last appearance was on a national stage in the 2019 Celebration Bowl after QB Felix Harper helped lead the Braves to back-to-back SWAC championships. The Walter Payton Award finalist Harper makes his return Saturday with all intentions of returning to Atlanta at the end of the season. Harper’s joined by top target WR LeCharles Pringle, who comes off a remarkable 14 touchdown season. With a few years of experience under their belt, the Braves offense will look to return to its explosive ways in 2021.

Felix Harper Alcorn State QB Felix Harper makes his return against North Carolina Central.

Defensively, Alcorn State hopes to making game-changing plays after leading the nation in turnovers gained in 2019 (36). Defensive backs Juwan Taylor and Keyron Kinsler Jr. patrol the secondary while LB Daimen Anderson mans the second level. Up front, DL Jacorian "Kobe" Wren sets the edge and hopes to build off a season where he accumulated 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and seven quarterback hurries.

Alcorn State’s defense faces a talented North Carolina Central offense highlighted by three-time All-MEAC RB Isaiah Totten. The redshirt senior running back gained over 2,000 yards in his career and will remain a consistent presence in the Eagle backfield. He’ll be joined in the backfield by QB Davius Richard. Richard hopes to take the next step after starting the final 10 games as a true freshman in 2019.

The young quarterback has the help of veterans on the defensive side of the ball. Redshirt junior DE Jessie Malit and junior DE Chuck Manning pose a threat to any opposing offense. Redshirt senior DB Stephen Stokes also returns to the North Carolina Central defense. Named preseason first-team All-MEAC, Stokes led the Eagles in total tackles while getting two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2019.

North Carolina Central and Alcorn State’s returning talent have them poised for a competitive early season matchup. In a primetime contest for conference bragging rights, the games between the MEAC’s Eagles and SWAC’s Braves should not disappoint.

4:02 pm, August 24, 2021

Alcorn State vs. North Carolina Central: Stats, how they stack up

Alcorn State and North Carolina Central both enter the season unranked in the FCS preseason Stats Perform Poll. Alcorn did receive 35 votes. Here's how they stack up based off of 2019's results after each team opted out in 2020.

Alcorn State vs. North Carolina Central
Alcorn State 2019 STATs North Carolina Central
9-4 Record 4-8
33.62 Points per game 17.50
23.08 Points allowed 27.33
407.2 Yards per game 308.8
251.92 Pass yards 185.17
155.3 Rush yards 123.7
354.3 Yards allowed 330.8
211.0 Pass yards allowed 169.33
143.3 Rush yards allowed 161.4
Felix Harper
2,954 yards (33 TDs, 9 INT)
Returning passing leader Davius Richard
2,020 yards (12 TDs, 9 INT)
Niko Duffey
838 yards (6 TDs)
Returning rushing leader Isaiah Totten
636 yards (3 TDs)
LeCharles Pringle
828 yards (14 TD)
Returning receiving leader Ryan McDaniel
368 yards (3 TD)
Juwan Taylor
89 total tackles (6.5 TFL)
Returning defense Stephen Stokes
62 total tackles (7 TFL)
3:42 pm, August 24, 2021

HBCU season preview

Here are 6 storylines to watch for the 2021 season:

1. How does the MEAC respond after losing three of its premier teams?
2. How do the MEAC defectors fit into their new conferences?
3. Was Alabama A&M’s SWAC championship a product of a shortened season?
4. How does a year off impact Alcorn State?
5. Can Southern’s Jordan Lewis add his name to the history books?
6. How does Jackson State perform with a complete offseason and a new influx of talent?

Click or tap here for a full breakdown.

4:01 pm, August 24, 2021

Alcorn State vs. North Carolina Central: Series history

The Alcorn State Braves and North Carolina Central Eagles have played only once in the two schools' storied histories. In 1976, the Eagles took the 13-hour trek to Lorman for an HBCU battle. Alcorn State won the game to open the season on a three-game win streak.

Date Location Winner Score
Sept. 25, 1976 Lorman, MS Alcorn State 23-7