DURHAM — N.C. A&T coach Rod Broadway is 14 games over .500 at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. Unfortunately for N.C. Central fans, his latest win was at their expense.
The Aggies defeated their archrival 22-16 in overtime Saturday in a game typical of one of the longest and most intense rivalries in college sports.
Despite holding the Eagles to 122 total yards, N.C. A&T needed a botched snap in overtime to take the win before a sellout crowd of 11,184. The victory is the Aggies’ fourth straight and gives them their first winning season since 2003.
“This is a big win for us,” said Broadway who returned to Durham as coach for the first time since leaving in 2006. “To end the season 7-4 with all the adversaries we had – 42 scholarships and limited practice time (NCAA sanctions) – my hat goes off to the coaches and kids this season. They found a way to win.”
N.C. A&T scored first in overtime, when running back Mike Mayhew ran in from the 5-yard line. The point-after attempt was missed, however, opening the door for the Eagles. But on third-and-inches from the 18, the center snapped the ball over quarterback Jordan Reid’s head, which the Eagles recovered at their 43 for a 39-yard loss. The bad snap was N.C. Central’s fourth in the game.
“We just made too many mistakes,” said N.C. Central coach Henry Frazier, who ended his second season with the Eagles (6-5). It is N.C. Central’s first winning season since Broadway left. “We were down to our third-string snapper, but I’m not making excuses. N.C. A&T made the plays when they had to.”
The Aggies took a 9-0 lead on two Eagles turnovers. A bad snap that sailed over the punter’s head gave N.C. A&T a safety in the first quarter. Then, wide receiver Jonathan Nicely fumbled at the Eagles 24. The Aggies made them pay four plays later with running back Ricky Lewis’ three-yard scamper with 5:01 left in the first half.
N.C. Central, which had been held to 26 yards of total offense, was 50 seconds away from being shut out in the first half until defensive back Malik Cromartie blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt that was picked up by teammate Delson McAdams and returned 71 yards for a touchdown – the Eagles’ 10th nonoffensive touchdown of the season. The missed point-after attempt left the score 9-6 at halftime.
After tying the game on kicker Oleg Parent’s 41-yard field goal, the Aggies returned the favor by blocking an Eagles punt that put the ball at their 3. Running back Ricky Lewis took it in from the 2 to put his team back ahead 16-9 with 2:09 left in the third period.
N.C. A&T had an opportunity to increase its lead, but the Eagles blocked its second field goal attempt, this time returning the ball to the Aggies 6. N.C. Central couldn’t capitalize, however, after defensive back Ayodeji Olatoye intercepted Reid on the strangest play of the game. Olatoye caught the ball at the 2, then appeared to run back into the end zone and kneel for what he thought was a touchback. After first calling the play a safety, officials huddled and reversed the decision, and put the ball at the 2.
“I just don’t understand the call,” Frazier said. “He purposely ran back into the end zone and took a knee. That should have been two points for us and the ball. Who knows what might have happened after that.”
But the Eagles’ defense held and N.C. Central began its game-tying drive at the N.C. A&T 45. Reid found Lamar Scruggs from 12 yards out to tie the game with 10:09 left.