In just its second home game this season, North Carolina Central didn’t put on the Thursday prime time show they hoped for.
The Eagles struggled to score touchdowns early in the season, and the offense went missing in action in the red zone once again as Bethune-Cookman defeated NCCU, 27-13, Thursday night at O-Kelly-Riddick Stadium. N.C. Central outgained the Wildcats 391-243, had more rushing yards (141-150) and two sacks, but couldn’t get the advantage where it mattered most.
“We didn’t win in one statistic,” Eagles’ coach Trei Oliver said. “Score.”
The Eagles came into the contest averaging just 19.7 points per game. NCCU is 7th in the MEAC in scoring, and averaged 31 points per game in its previous three games.
Thursday night, though, NCCU failed to score until the 4:24 mark of the second quarter, when Adrian Olivo kicked a field goal.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Wildcats scored on their second offensive possession when Akevious Williams hit Jimmie Robinson on a short screen and the senior wide out ran 54 yards for the score. After the successful point after, BCU led 7-0 with 8:14 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats converted two big third downs on their scoring drive. On third and eight, Williams broke containment for a 14-yard gain, then on third and 12 he hit Que’shaun Byrd for 12 yards for the first down. Williams connected with Robinson for the game’s first score on the next play.
The Eagles answered on the next drive, capping off a nine-play drive with a 38-yard Olivo field goal.
After pulling to within eight, Robinson silenced the crowd with an electric 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“We kicked it to number one (Robinson), and we knew not to do that,” Oliver said. “We talked all week about limiting his touches and we gave him an opportunity and he made the most of it.”
That play took the wind out of the sails for N.C. Central.
“We scored and gave ourselves an opportunity,” Oliver said. “It was a one possession game. The kids had life and the crowd was in the game and then we give that kickoff return up.”
NCCU drops to 1-2 in the MEAC and 2-5 overall. BCU improves to 5-1 and is 3-0 in conference play.
It was just the second home game this season for the Eagles, who have played five of their first seven games on the road. After a bye week next Saturday, NCCU will play its second straight home game against Delaware State on Oct. 26.
This was also the third straight loss to BCU.
Jimmie Robinson came into the game averaging 143.0 all-purpose yards, second in the MEAC. He scored two of the Wildcats first three touchdowns, one receiving and another one on a 79-yard kickoff return. Robinson finished with 174 total yards and two scores.
NCCU freshman quarterback Davius Richard hit E.J. Hicks for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2:26 remaining in the game for the Eagles’ lone touchdown.
Trailing 21-6 late in the fourth quarter, NCCU decided to go for it on fourth and four, a doable conversion despite the team’s offensive struggles throughout the game. But the ball was snapped low and went between Richard’s legs. The ball rolled 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Richard picked it up and threw it out of bounds in a blown opportunity for a first down.
Four of the previous five games between N.C Central and Bethune-Cookman have been decided by a touchdown or less. This was the second game in the past six years where the winning team won by at least two scores.
4 Number of times NCCU was flagged in the first half, each time for false start.
391 Total number of yards for the Eagles, who outgained the Wildcats by 148 yards, but couldn’t convert those big yards into points.
6 of 19 NCCU’s third down conversions against Bethune-Cookman. The Eagles were also 0 of 2 on fourth down.
261 Total number of punting yards from NCCU’s John Pecaro, who had more yards with his leg than the entire Bethune-Cookman offense.