By Off the BlackAthlete Sports Wire
Updated: October 6, 2004
“Quest for the Ring – November 6 – The CIAA Championship Game”
Six weeks into the season, divisional titles are still up in the air. The Wild, Wild East is highlighted by a three-way tie between Virginia State, Bowie State and Shaw. Elizabeth City State is only one game back. The Western Division Title is on the line in Fayetteville with sixth-ranked North Carolina Central visiting ninth-ranked Fayetteville State.
GAME OF THE WEEK: NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL AT FAYETTEVILLE STATE: The adage is “In order to be the champ… you must beat the champ.” Well, if this is true then North Carolina Central gets its shot on Saturday against the two-time Champion Fayetteville State. NCCU survived a 10-7 bloodbath against St. Augustine’s to emerge with the division’s best record at 3-0. FSU kept its championship hopes alive by knocking off its chief rival WSSU at their homecoming. The Eagles should have plenty of motivation against FSU after last season’s 45-7 whipping. Can NCCU close a 38 point gap? If so, DL Scheldon Connor and LB Luis George will lead the way. Defensively, the Eagles are second in scoring and total defense. Offensively, QB Adrian Warren is the CIAA’s leading passer and tailbacks Greg Pruitt and Donnie Pippen are two of the conference’s best. FSU, after stumbling to a 2-2 start, has regrouped and ends an incredible six-game road trek. The Broncos will open the newly renovated Nick Geralds Stadium for their first home game in 2004. FSU has not lost a CIAA contest at home since 2001 and have only lost one divisional contest during that period. RB Nick Green has emerged as a top-flight rushing threat and will help support QB Jonathan Autry as he learns the position. Defensively, FSU is stout and DL Anthony Hicks leads the charge. LB Charles Roberts, the 2003 Championship MVP, must step up in order to contain NCCU’s punishing running attack. (7:30 p.m. at Fayetteville).
VIRGINIA UNION AT SHAW: With their upset of Bowie State and ECSU’s shocking win against Virginia State, the East is up for grabs. Both Shaw and Virginia Union saw the divisional race come back to them with the loss by the leaders. Shaw will not have time to celebrate homecoming with the defending Eastern Division Champs coming to town. QB Cordell Roane has taken over the reins of the offense and looks to regain the magic of 2002. Christopher Peavy and Shawn Woodard will have the chief task of containing Roane. Shaw suffered its worst loss of the season at the hands of VUU, 26-6, in Richmond. QB Jermonty Kimbrough must provide more consistency at the position if Shaw hopes to win the East. RB Dion McIver has been outstanding averaging over 100 yards per contest. (1:30 p.m. at Raleigh).
ELIZABETH CITY STATE AT BOWIE STATE: The upset of 2004 thus far belongs to ECSU. Their 15-14 victory over Virginia State propelled them into the divisional race in the East. In order to keep their hopes alive, however, they must stop Bowie State. The Bulldogs’ once high-flying offense has been grounded. The team that scored at will to begin the season (28 ppg) has scored only 21 points in its last two contests. Which BSU Offense will show up at homecoming…Jeckyll or Hyde? ECSU is one of the conference’s best defensive units and the Bulldogs will have a tough time getting untracked. QB Jabali Smith and his receiving corps need to get the aerial attack working if they hope to win the East. QB Donald Norman has been solid, if not spectacular for ECSU. DB Howard Williams leads the conference with six interceptions and DL Maceo Thomas and Greg Moore provide solid support. (1:00 p.m. at Bowie, MD).
LIVINGSTONE AT WINSTON-SALEM STATE: Winston-Salem State rode into the 2004 season with high hopes. However, the reality of a 1-5 record is what WSSU must deal with. While their championship hopes are probably dashed, WSSU can still salvage the ‘04 season by playing the spoiler role. First, WSSU must deal with Livingstone. LC is coming off a tough win against division rival Johnson C. Smith. Defensive Lineman of the Week Moises Gordon posted an incredible 18 tackles against the Golden Bulls to lead the way. Gordon and the rest of the LC Defense will have their collective hands full against the WSSU running game. Both Rams runners, Martin Hicks and Jed Bines, had over 100 yards in the 21-14 loss to FSU. (6:00 p.m. at Winston-Salem).
ST. AUGUSTINE’S AT JOHNSON C. SMITH: St. Aug may be the best 2-4 team in the nation. The Falcons had leads over nationally-ranked Tuskegee, and NCCU late in those respective contests only to succumb. The Falcons have survived the loss of QB Darrell Nesbitt and have played well. However, the loss of the Mike Vick-like Nesbitt has been hard to swallow. After suffering tough losses in its early season, JCSU almost pulled out its first game of the season, but fell short against Livingstone. Like FSU, the Golden Bulls will be playing their first home game of the season. JCSU hopes home-field advantage will propel them to victory over divisional rival St. Aug. (6:00 p.m. at Charlotte).
ROWAN AT VIRGINIA STATE: The Trojans look to regroup against Division III Rowan. However, Rowan is a national power in Division III and will not be intimidated by VSU. Offensively, the VSU defense needs more support from its offense. It’s homecoming for VSU. (1:30 p.m. at Petersburg).