Durham News: Sports

Cohen rewrites records for A&T football

Bonitta Best
Bonitta Best dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Bunn native Tarik Cohen continues to make his hometown proud.

The North Carolina A&T State senior running back became the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-time leading rusher after a 200-yard rushing performance against Norfolk State Thursday night before a nationally televised audience on ESPNU.

In typical Cohen fashion, he broke the record on a dazzling 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that helped seal the Aggies 35-0 win to keep them in a tie for first place with arch-rival North Carolina Central. He also added 19 yards receiving, bringing his career all-purpose total to 5,489 yards, an A&T school record.

“I don’t know what else to say about this guy,” said Aggies coach Rod Broadway, who was a head coach at NCCU and an assistant at North Carolina. “All of you guys need to sit back and appreciate greatness because you don’t get to see a lot of it. This kid is something.”

Cohen has won a top MEAC award every season in college; first, the MEAC rookie of the year in 2013, and then back-to-back offensive player of the year honors. His 200-yard night is the sixth of his career, another program record.

Cohen admitted to feeling the pressure.

“It (the record) was in the back of my mind,” he said. “Once I started to get near it, and we were at a comfortable lead, I was a little mad and frustrated that I wasn’t there yet. But when I broke the last one, it was like a relief and a weight taken off me.”

Cohen’s career took off last summer after a video showing him performing a back flip while catching one and sometimes two footballs went viral.

His 295-yard, three-TD rushing attack in the inaugural Air Force Celebration Bowl last December helped the Aggies win and earn the title of black college national champions.

But Cohen wasn’t the only North Carolinian breaking school records last Thursday. Kinston native and senior wide receiver Denzel Keyes became the program’s touchdown reception leader with his 20th career catch in the third quarter.

“When we have players like this, it makes my job a lot easier,” said Broadway, who won conference championships at NCCU, Grambling State and A&T. “Let’s keep this thing rolling.”

The Aggies are seeking their third straight conference championship. Two years ago, they shared the title with four other teams in a five-way tie, including the Eagles. Last year ended in a three-way tie among the Aggies, Eagles and Bethune-Cookman.

A national audience will get another look at Cohen and the Aggies on ESPNU Thursday night when they travel to Bethune.

Perfect 10

Durham Academy junior varsity girls field hockey team is one match away from a perfect season.

The Cavaliers (10-0) matchup against St. Mary’s School was canceled Friday due to Hurricane Matthew. That leaves this Friday’s contest at Charlotte Country Day as the only barrier to an unblemished mark.

And what a season it’s been. Of DA’s 10 victories, eight were shutouts, and no opponent scored more than a goal against them.

Cross country champions

Both the Durham School of the Arts girls and Jordan boys repeated as cross country champions at the City-County Cross Country Meet last week at Durham Academy. DSA took home the John Gray Trophy, while Jordan carried away the Russell Blunt Trophy.

The meet dates back to 1976 for the boys and 1981 for the girls, and gives area teams bragging rights until next season.