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Anthony Chiusano | | December 21, 2019

Celebration Bowl: History, all-time results and how to watch in 2019

Mansfield's 2010 reenactment of the first-ever night football game in 1892

Today marks the fifth straight season, the champions of the MEAC and SWAC will go head-to-head in the Celebration Bowl. The 2019 meeting will take place at 12 p.m. ET between Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T.

The MEAC representatives boast a 3-1 edge in the series entering this year's game. Below is a complete look at the Celebration Bowl's history and past results.

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Celebration Bowl history: How did it start?

The Celebration Bowl was introduced in 2015 as a postseason matchup between the conference champions from the MEAC and SWAC, serving as the HBCU championship. It is the only current college football bowl game played between two FCS programs.

According to The Celebration Bowl, the game's mission is "to provide the schools, alumni, fans and sponsors with a first-class bowl experience while continuing to celebrate the heritage, legacy, pageantry and tradition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities."

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The Celebration Bowl is hosted in Atlanta each year, starting at the Georgia Dome from 2015-16 before moving to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017.

Here are the schools who compete in the MEAC and SWAC conferences that are eligible for the Celebration Bowl: 

Bethune-Cookman Alabama A&M
Delaware State Alabama State
Florida A&M Alcorn State
Howard Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Morgan State Grambling State
Norfolk State Jackson State
North Carolina A&T Mississippi Valley State
North Carolina Central Prairie View A&M
South Carolina State Texas Southern

Celebration Bowl: All-time scores, records

The 2019 Celebration Bowl will be the fifth in the bowl game's history. Here were the winners, final scores and MVPs since the game's 2015 debut.

The Celebration Bowl has predominantly been nail-biters in its young history. Through the first four years, the average margin of victory has been less than five points.

2015 North Carolina A&T Alcorn State 41-34 Atlanta, Ga. (Georgia Dome)
2016 Grambling State N.C. Central 10-9 Atlanta, Ga. (Georgia Dome)
2017 North Carolina A&T Grambling State 21-14 Atlanta, Ga. (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
2018 North Carolina A&T Alcorn State 24-22 Atlanta, Ga. (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

Two MVPs — one offensive, one defensive — are named in each year's games. Here's who has taken home the honors in past Celebration Bowls:

2015: North Carolina A&T

  • Tarik Cohen, RB (offensive): 348 all-purpose yards, three rushing touchdowns
  • Denzel Jones, LB (defensive): seven tackles, one interception

Cohen broke off touchdown runs of 83 and 74 yards to lead North Carolina A&T to its first Celebration Bowl win. His 74-yard burst stood as the game-winning touchdown, breaking a 34-34 tie with 4:17 remaining. 

2016: Grambling State

  • Martez Carter, RB (offensive): 109 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 69 return yards
  • Jameel Jackson, DB (defensive): five tackles, one interception

The 2016 Celebration Bowl came down to a blocked PAT attempt following a potential game-tying scoring drive by N.C. Central. Down 10-3 to Grambling State, NCCU's Quentin Atkinson found Malcolm Bell for a 39-yard touchdown with 2:14 left in regulation. But the ensuing PAT was blocked by Joseph McWilliams to maintain a 10-9 lead for Grambling State.

2017: North Carolina A&T

  • Marquell Cartwright, RB (offensive): 110 rushing yards, 54 receiving yards, two total touchdowns
  • Mac McCain III, DB (defensive): four tackles, one interception

In yet another down-to-the-wire finish, NC A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard punched in a game-winning 1-yard touchdown run to break a 14-14 tie with 38 seconds left. The Celebration Bowl win finished off a 12-0 season for the Aggies, who became the first MEAC football team to ever finish a season undefeated.

2018: North Carolina A&T

  • Lamar Raynard, QB (offensive): 18-of-30 passing, 292 passing yards, two touchdowns
  • Richie Kittle, DB (defensive): nine tackles, four tackles for loss

The Aggies captured the HBCU title again in 2018 behind a two-touchdown day from Raynard and a key 79-yard kickoff return score by Malik Wilson, which gave North Carolina A&T a 24-16 lead entering the fourth quarter.

2019 Celebration Bowl: Date, time, TV channel

This year, North Carolina A&T (8-3, 6-2 MEAC) will face Alcorn State (9-3, 6-1 SWAC) for the third time in the Celebration Bowl's five-year history. NC A&T is a perfect 3-0 in the game while Alcorn State is 0-2, losing to the Aggies in 2015 and 2018.

The 2019 Celebration Bowl is set for Saturday, Dec. 21 at noon ET on ABC and WatchESPN. Tickets are available for purchase here. Live stats can be followed here. The game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here's how the two Celebration Bowl teams match up. 

8-3 (6-2 MEAC) 2019 record 9-3 (6-1 SWAC)
Sam Washington ( 18-5; 2nd season) Coach (school record) Fred McNair (30-18; 4th season)
3-0 Celebration Bowl record (W-L) 0-2
194.0 Passing offense (yards per game) 244.5
241.3 Rushing offense (yards per game) 158.3
35.7 Scoring offense (points scored per game) 32.8
18.6 Scoring defense (points allowed per game) 19.7
+8 Turnover margin +11

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