GREENSBORO, N.C. — Bethune-Cookman’s hopes for a Celebration Bowl appearance fell into an early 20-point hole that the Wildcats couldn’t get out of as North Carolina A&T posted a pivotal 47-17 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory at BB&T Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Jah-Maine Martin scored two of his three touchdowns in the first quarter as the Aggies (7-3 overall, 5-2 MEAC) stormed out to an early 20-0 lead. Martin scored on a 66-yard run on the Aggies’ second play from scrimmage and on a four-yard run shortly after a Wildcat (6-4,4-3) turnover.
“We felt like we had energy and a good game plan together, we just didn’t execute offensively,” said B-CU coach Terry Sims. “You can’t fall behind a team like North Carolina A&T like that.”
After William Simpson’s 6-yard run gave the Aggies a 20-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter, B-CU started to show signs of life. An offense that gained just 16 yards on its first 10 plays manufactured a scoring drive that resulted in LaDerrien Wilson’s 1-yard run with 10:27 to play in the half. The Wildcats cut it to 20-10 on Xavier McDonald’s 25-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining.
“We weren’t calling anything differently,” Sims said about the second quarter. “Guys were making plays.”
Aggie quarterback Jalen Fowler connected with Kashon Baker and Elijah Bell on touchdowns of 36 and 22 yards to push the Aggie lead to 33-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Akevious Williams’ 9-yard run two minutes later cut it to 33-17, but Martin, who finished with 120 yards on 19 carries, answered with a 7-yard score after Korey Banks’ 61-yard kickoff return.
Williams finished with 45 yards rushing on 13 carries and completed 10 of 22 passes for 119 yards. Steffon Francois (52 yards) and Marcus Riley (22) each had two catches.
Tydarius Peters led the Wildcat defense with 11 tackles.
B-CU found some momentum when Eric Alford blocked North Carolina A&T’s third point-after attempt and Davonte Lawrence made a long return.
After the kickoff, the Wildcats put together a drive that included 13-yard catches by Marcus Riley and Taron Mallard as well as a 20-yard Jimmie Robinson sweep on fourth down.
Francois had a 45-yard catch to set up BCU’s final touchdown.
BCU meets Florida A&M in the Florida Blue Florida Classic next week.
“We have to put this behind us,” Sims said. “No time to feel sorry. We have to rally the troops.”
NOTES: Wilson has now scored a touchdown in three straight games … Bryce Coward had his longest punt of the year — a 62-yarder — that was downed by Jimmie Robinson III inside the Aggie 5 … Robinson has caught a pass in all 10 games.