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Stan Becton | | December 18, 2021

The top 9 individual performances through the first half of the HBCU football season

Celebration Bowl MVP Shaq Davis discusses South Carolina State's victory over Jackson State

Seven weeks of HBCU football at the FCS level are in the books! The season has been unpredictable early on, but a handful of players have stood out with big-time games.

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Here are the top nine individual performances through the first half of the HBCU football season.

Week 1: Alabama A&M QB Aqeel Glass vs. South Carolina State

The reigning Deacon Jones award winner, Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass, kicked off his season with a bang in a Week 1 shootout with South Carolina State. In a 42-41 victory that saw eight lead changes, Glass threw for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Glass dazzled through the air, but scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run. After a fantastic spring season, Glass picked up where he left off in 2021’s opening game.

Week 2: South Carolina State CB Decobie Durant vs. Clemson

Not many expected South Carolina State to compete when they took on then-No. 6 Clemson from the FBS; the Bulldogs lost 49-3. However, South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant played well against the FBS powerhouse. Durant stole two interceptions from Clemson’s quarterbacks, adding two pass breakups and three tackles to his efforts. One of Durant’s interceptions gained recognition from Sportscenter's Top 10 plays, helping to propel the play into the national spotlight.

Week 3: Florida A&M S Markquese Bell vs. South Florida

Florida A&M safety Markquese Bell entered the fall as one of the best players in the FCS and a potential NFL draft prospect. Against FBS opponent South Florida in Week 3, Bell proved he can compete with the best, getting 15 tackles (10 solo), one sack and a forced fumble. Bell flew around the ball and earned the Reese's Senior Bowl Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Week 4: Alcorn State QB Felix Harper vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

All eyes were on a Thursday night football game when Alcorn State visited the defending SWAC West champion Arkansas-Pine Bluff Week 4 on ESPNU. In the first half, Arkansas-Pine Bluff jumped out to a 26-7 lead. However, the second half was a different story. Alcorn State quarterback Felix Harper accounted for three second-half touchdowns in a 39-38 comeback victory. In total, Harper threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another score.

Week 5: Norfolk State QB Juwan Carter vs. Hampton

In Week 5, The Battle of the Bay, featuring Norfolk State and Hampton, returned for the first time since 2017. The game did not disappoint as the Spartans won an overtime thriller 47-44.  In the win, Norfolk State quarterback Juwan Carter put on a show; Carter threw for 294 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 92 yards with three touchdowns, including the game-winning score. Carter has been electrifying all season long and had a game for the ages against an old-time rival.

Week 5: Hampton WR Jadakis Bonds vs. Norfolk State

On the losing side of the Battle of the Bay was another spectacular performance, as Hampton wide receiver Jadakis Bonds caught six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Down 41-34 with 17 seconds remaining, Bonds had one-on-one coverage on the left side of the field. In clutch fashion, Bonds caught a 17-yard touchdown pass to send the game to overtime. While the Pirates fell short in overtime, Bonds played at an elite level.

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Week 6: Florida A&M Isaiah Land vs. South Carolina State

The FCS sacks leader linebacker Isaiah Land had a monster game Week 6 against South Carolina State. Land set Florida A&M’s single-game sack record, getting to the quarterback five times. Land was a dominant force in the opposing backfield all afternoon as he added 4.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and eight tackles on the day. It’s no surprise the South Carolina State quarterback Corey Fields only completed 38 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions with Land bearing down on him for four quarters.

Week 6: Jackson State QB Shedeur Sanders vs. Alabama A&M

In a battle for first place in the SWAC East against Alabama A&M, some wondered if the stage would be too big for Jackson State’s freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders. However, Sanders played like a veteran with poise early and often. Sanders completed 17 of 24 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns while adding 58 rushing yards and a score on the ground. It was an elite performance from the freshman signal caller as Jackson State routed the defending SWAC champion 61-15.

Week 7: Southern RB Kobe Dillon vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Have a day, Kobe Dillon! The Southern running back set a Jaguars single-game rushing record gaining 267 yards on the ground. Dillon averaged 19.1 yards per carry in 14 carries, scoring three rushing touchdowns of 40, 45 and 75 yards. Dillon was named STATS Perform FCS National Freshman of the Week after a record-breaking day.

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