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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | August 29, 2022

16 of the best MEAC/SWAC Challenge moments

Alabama State QB Dematrius Davis stars in 2022 MEAC/SWAC Challenge

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge has had 16 completed games in its history since 2005. The 2022 contest saw Alabama State defeat Howard 23-13 in the longest MEAC/SWAC Challenge from start to finish in the challenge's history, lasting nearly five hours after three weather delays. 

In honor of the 16-game history from 2005-2022, here are 16 of the best MEAC/SWAC Challenge moments.

16 of the best MEAC/SWAC Challenge moments

2005 — Tavaris Jackson launches a 79-yard touchdown pass

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge began in 2005 as South Carolina State battled Alabama State in Birmingham, Alabama. While the Bulldogs controlled much of the game, leading 27-7 in the fourth quarter, Hornets quarterback Tavaris Jackson did not go out quietly. 

Down 20 points with 10:04 on the clock, Jackson took the field for Alabama State's first fourth-quarter possession. The Hornets lined up in a tight end trips set to the field. The inside receiver motioned outside, and the center snapped the ball. 

The play was four verticals. Jackson looked left, giving a slight pump fake, before turning back to his right to throw a pass under pressure that traveled 53 air-yards to wide receiver ​​Lorenzo "Slim" Hoffman, who took the catch into the end zone. A 79-yard touchdown as Alabama State fought until the finish. 

SWARM: Click or tap here to see how Alabama State won the 2022 MEAC/SWAC Challenge

2006 — Overtime

The only overtime game in MEAC/SWAC Challenge history came in 2006 when Hampton battled Grambling State.

After one quarter, the game was tied 7-7. After two quarters, Hampton led 10-7. With 06:59 left to play in the third quarter, Grambling State led 20-10, the largest lead of the game. Then Hampton scored the game-tying touchdown with 1:10 to play in the fourth quarter. A missed Grambling State field goal as time expired meant overtime was up next.

In overtime, Hampton got the ball first. Quarterback TJ Mitchell found running back Kevin Beverly on a 10-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in extra time. Hampton kicker Andrew Paterini made his extra point to put the Pirates up seven points.

When Grambling State got the ball, it responded with a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Landers to wide receiver Tim Abney. Then came the extra point. As Grambling State kicker Tim Manuel ran to kick, Hampton's Derius Swinton burst through the line of scrimmage, blocking the extra point, and ending the game. The Pirates won 27-26.

2022 HBCU: Follow everything that happens in the 2022 HBCU football season

2007 — Southern's second-half surge

Exiting halftime of the 2007 MEAC/SWAC Challenge, Florida A&M led Southern 20-12. However, whatever was said in the Jaguar locker room during halftime clearly worked as Southern dominated the start of the second half.

Southern scored three touchdowns on its first four second half possessions, highlighted by a trio of rushing touchdowns. The Jaguars took the lead and held on to win 33-27.

2009 — South Carolina State seals the game with an interception

In the 2009 MEAC/SWAC Challenge, Grambling State scored 21 second-half points to cut a 14-point deficit to three in the fourth quarter. After South Carolina State turned the ball over on downs in Tiger territory, Grambling State had one more chance to complete the comeback.

Grambling State quarterback Greg Dillon completed a 35-yard pass on the first play of the ensuing drive to get the Tigers into field goal range with 1:32 remaining in the game. Dillon dropped back again on the next play to pass, but this time, the pass was intercepted by South Carolina State defensive back Semaj Moody, sealing the game and a 34-31 Bulldog win.

CLASSICS: Here's every 2022 HBCU football classic in the FCS

2010 — Larrone Moore scores from 85+ yards out twice in one quarter

Delaware State wide receiver Larrone Moore opened the 2010 MEAC/SWAC Challenge impressively. Moore proved he was a big-play threat early on, catching an 85-yard screen pass from quarterback Anthony Gluad and returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, both in the second quarter.

2010 — Corey Cushingberry's 64-yard punt return highlights Southern's comeback

Southern trailed Delaware State by 11 points entering the fourth quarter of the 2010 MEAC/SWAC Challenge. After cutting the lead to four with under eight minutes to play, the Jaguars were set to receive the ball off of a Hornet punt. Corey Cushingberry caught the punt and took it 64 yards to the house to give Southern the lead, ultimately putting the Jaguars in front for the win.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

2011 — Bethune-Cookman's dominant defense leads to the highest scoring win

Bethune-Cookman won the 2011 MEAC/SWAC Challenge by scoring 63 points, the most by any team in the game's history. The Wildcat defense scored two defensive touchdowns — on back-to-back possessions — in the win over Prairie View A&M. The defense also forced six turnovers; Bethune-Cookman's offense scored three touchdowns off turnovers.

2012 — Bethune-Cookman's improbable 21-0 comeback

In video games like Madden, a 21-0 lead means the game is over. It's a good thing the 2012 MEAC/SWAC Challenge wasn't a video game for Bethune-Cookman. Alabama State jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the Wildcats with 13:45 left in the second quarter. Then, Bethune-Cookman scored 38 straight points to comeback from the deficit. Alabama State scored a late, fourth-quarter touchdown to cut the lead to 10 by the game's end, but the comeback was finished.

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2014 — Tarik Cohen puts on a show

Tarik Cohen is one of the greatest HBCU football players ever and his 2014 MEAC/SWAC Challenge performance is an example of why. On just 10 carries, Cohen gained 161 yards and scored two touchdowns, including an 80-yard run. Cohen added two receptions for 20 yards as North Carolina A&T dominated in a 47-13 win over Alabama A&M.

2014 — Tony McRae's 95-yard kickoff return touchdown

To close the 2014 MEAC/SWAC Challenge's first quarter, Alabama A&M kicked off the ball after kicking a field goal. North Carolina A&T's Tony McRae caught the kick, followed his blockers, made a few cuts and took the kick 95 yards for a touchdown.

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2015 — Javon Hargrave dominates in South Carolina State win

South Carolina State defensive lineman and soon-to-be NFL draft pick Javon Hargrave had one of the best individual defensive performances in any MEAC/SWAC Challenge game in 2015. The Bulldog star finished with seven tackles, 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss — without playing in the fourth quarter. Hargrave led a defense that scored two defensive touchdowns in a 35-7 win.

2017 — Danny Johnson clinches Southern's win with 19 seconds left

4th down-and-7. South Carolina State had the ball at the Southern 27-yard line, trailing 14-8 with 25 seconds left. This game was played on Southern's home field, and the crowd roared, cheering on its defense. 

Bulldog quarterback Dewann Ford aired a jump ball towards the endzone for wide receiver De' Montrez Burroughs, but Southern cornerback Danny Johnson made a play on the ball, breaking up the pass for a turnover on downs. South Carolina State was out of timeouts and that sealed the game.

2018 — Prairie View A&M's Dawonya Tucker's 50-yard touchdown run highlights monster day

By the fourth quarter, it was clear that Prairie View A&M running back Dawonya Tucker was having a day on the ground. The Panthers led North Carolina Central 33-24 when Tucker took an inside-zone carry 50 yards to the house, showing off great patience, vision and speed. In total, Tucker ran for 224 yards on 22 carries, a game record.

2019 — Bethune-Cookman's 96-yard fumble return touchdown

Jackson State trailed Bethune-Cookman 29-15 with 9:25 to play in the fourth quarter with the ball at the Wildcat 11-yard line. Jackson State quarterback Derrick Ponder scrambled out of the pocket towards the end zone and was tackled by two Bethune-Cookman defenders.

Out came the football. Cornerback Sam Marc scooped up the ball and ran down the sideline 96 yards the other way for a touchdown. It was Bethune-Cookman's second defensive touchdown of the day.

2021 — Brandon Codrington's electrifying punt return touchdown

North Carolina Central hadn't played a football game in almost two years when they battled Alcorn State in 2021's MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Yet, exiting the first half, the Eagles trailed the Braves by just one point, 14-13. Then, North Carolina Central kicked a fourth quarter field goal to take the lead and forced Alcorn State to punt on its next drive.

As the ball sailed off the punter's foot downfield, Eagle return specialist Brandon Codrington waited below. The ball hit the turf and bounced into Codrington's hands. He made a man miss and ran towards the wall forming on the right side. Codrington put his foot in the ground when he reached the right hash and accelerated, racing to the end zone for a 77-yard punt return touchdown.

RECAP: Here's what happened in the 2021 MEAC/SWAC Challenge

The Bands

The list of top MEAC/SWAC Challenge games would be remiss without mentioning the bands. The HBCU football team bands help create a fantastic atmosphere throughout the game, especially during the halftime show.

Below is an updated history of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge

Year Winner Opponent score site attendance
2005 South Carolina State (MEAC) Alabama State (SWAC) 27-14 Birmingham, AL
(Legion Field)
18,452
2006 Hampton (MEAC) Grambling State (SWAC) 27-26 (OT) Birmingham, AL
(Legion Field)
19,174
2007 Southern (SWAC) Florida A&M (MEAC) 33-27 Birmingham, AL
(Legion Field)
30,106
2008 Hampton (MEAC) Jackson State (SWAC) 17-13 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
10,723
2009 South Carolina State (MEAC) Grambling State (SWAC) 34-31 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
21,367
2010 Southern (SWAC) Delaware State (MEAC) 37-27 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
16,327
2011 Bethune-Cookman (MEAC) Prairie View A&M (SWAC) 63-14 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
17,337
2012 Bethune-Cookman (MEAC) Alabama State (SWAC) 38-28 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
17,410
2013 Florida A&M (MEAC) Mississippi Valley State (SWAC) 27-10 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
24,376
2014 North Carolina A&T (MEAC) Alabama A&M (SWAC) 47-13 Orlando, FL
(Bright House Networks Stadium)
8,210
2015 South Carolina State (MEAC) Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC) 35-7 Orlando, FL
(Citrus Bowl)
7,257
2017 Southern (SWAC) South Carolina State (MEAC) 14-8 Baton Rouge, LA
(Ace W. Mumford Stadium)
10,006
2018 Prairie View A&M (SWAC) North Carolina Central (MEAC) 40-24 Atlanta, GA
(Georgia State Stadium)
10,274
2019 Bethune-Cookman (MEAC) Jackson State (SWAC) 36-15 Atlanta, GA
(Georgia State Stadium)
23,333
2021 North Carolina Central (MEAC) Alcorn State (SWAC) 23-14 Atlanta, GA
(Center Parc Stadium)
15,215
2022 Alabama State (SWAC) Howard (MEAC) 23-13 Atlanta, GA
(Center Parc Stadium)
21,088
  • 2016's game between South Carolina State and Southern, scheduled for Daytona Beach, FL., was ruled a no contest due to inclement weather.
  • 2020's game between Grambling State and South Carolina State, scheduled for Atlanta, GA., was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 2022's game between Alabama State and Howard was ruled final with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter during the game's third weather delay.

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