By Off the BASN Sports Wire
Updated: October 15, 2004
Both divisional races remain up in the air after Week 7. While Fayetteville State got a leg up in the Western Division with a win over rival North Carolina Central, there is still significant work to do. NCCU and FSU are tied for the Western lead, but FSU earned the head to head tiebreaker. Shaw and Virginia State are in a dead heat in the East. Elizabeth City still has a say in the race facing co-leader Shaw on Saturday.
GAME OF THE WEEK: VIRGINIA STATE AT VIRGINIA UNION: (“The Gold Bowl” – TV Game – check your local listings) Virginia State got back on the winning track with an impressive win over Division III power Rowan. However, the Battle of I-95 resumes in the Gold Bowl when Virginia Union hosts the Trojans. Last season, VUU handed the Trojans a 30-17 home loss which dashed their divisional championship hopes. This season, the Panthers have struggled through one of their worst campaigns ever. The Panthers’ hopes of defending their divisional title ended with last week’s 10-9 loss to Shaw. VSU’s defense is one of the nation’s best, giving up a measly 11 points per game. QB Michael Terry has improved his play and will need to play well to stave off the upset minded Panthers. Terry has solid targets in receivers Jerome Jeter and PJ Berry. VUU, at one time, had one of the formidable offenses in Division II. Now the Panthers are near the bottom of the league in scoring offense. However, throw the stats out the window because this contest is every bit a “rivalry.” (1:30 p.m. at Richmond).
WINSTON-SALEM STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL: The Eagles’ CIAA title hopes took a hit last weekend at FSU. However, there is much to play for. NCCU is still tied for first in the West, but FSU holds the tiebreaker. In order to win the West now, the Eagles will have to win out and hope the Broncos falter down the stretch. However, CIAA rival WSSU looks to end the Championship hopes of NCCU. The Rams, considered by most to be the preseason favorite, have stumbled to a 2-5 record and are now relegated to the role of spoiler. WSSU still packs the best one-two tailback punch in the league with Jed Bines and Martin Hicks first and second respectively in rushing. NCCU, one of the league leaders in turnover margin, lost four turnovers at FSU and were doomed. In order to win this hard-fought contest, NCCU must hold onto the ball. Frosh sensation RB Greg Pruitt must also get adequate touches to keep the Eagle defense off the field. This is NCCU’s Hall of Fame Game. (6:00 p.m. at Durham).
ELIZABETH CITY STATE AT SHAW: Who woulda ever thunk it?? Elizabeth City State is a contender for the Eastern Division title. With head to head wins over Virginia State and Bowie State, they can step to the forefront with a win over Shaw. The Bears survived Virginia Union at their homecoming to keep their title hopes alive. QB Jermonty Kimbrough has yet to live up to his 2003 form and RB Dion McIver has had to carry much of the offensive load. ECSU QB Donald Norman has played consistent football and has led a solid offensive attack. Defensively, the line play of Greg Moore, the league sack leader, and Maceo Thomas has led the Viking attack. Shaw has also been impressive on the defensive side of the ball with DL Christopher Peavy leading the way. Viking DB Howard Williams has picked off nine passes and Shaw DB Shawn Woodard has four picks of his own. Shaw looks to bring home the win and set up a Week 9 showdown with Virginia State (1:30 p.m. at Elizabeth City).
JOHNSON C. SMITH AT FAYETTEVILLE STATE: On paper, this appears to be the mismatch of the weekend. However, JCSU almost upset the Broncos last year at their homecoming before falling 30-26. The Golden Bulls almost pulled off a shocker last weekend against St. Augustine’s but fell short, 20-19. JCSU will not be intimidated by the defending champs, and will be looking for a measure of revenge of their own. FSU won an important contest over Western contender NCCU on Saturday, but have work to do. DL Anthony Hicks has been impressive in leading the CIAA’s top-ranked defense. DB Walt Williams has also been impressive. RB Nick Green has played well in the stead of the departed Amir Holding. Also, QB Johnathan Autry has grown more comfortable as the Bronco signal caller. This one has upset written all over it. (7:30 p.m. at Fayetteville).
LIVINGSTONE AT ST. AUGUSTINE’S: St. Augustine’s may be the nation’s best 3-4 team. The Falcons whipped Shaw 34-6, and held their own against ranked teams Tuskegee and North Carolina Central. St. Aug will be favored in this homecoming contest. QB Matthew Perry has played well and RB Kirby Williams has given St. Aug a solid running game. LB Moises Gordon will meet Williams throughout the afternoon. The meetings will not be amicable. Gordon is the nation’s leading tackler averaging over 16 a contest. (1:00 p.m. at Raleigh).
BOWIE STATE AT TOWSON: The Bulldogs have fallen on hard times recently. After starting the season with a 3-1 record and a sparkling offense, BSU cannot scratch the scoreboard. The Bulldogs were shut out against Elizabeth City and have struggled mightily in recent weeks. I-AA Towson will be a difficult opponent for BSU to find its’ identity. (6:00 p.m. at Towson, MD).