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Aggies Win Their First Game
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Aggies of NC A & T were determined to get in the win column Saturday at Aggie stadium and they used a steady dose of running from backup running back Quante Speight and solid defense narrowly defeating Norfolk State 16-14.
Speight, who entered the game in the second quarter when starting running back Brandon Sweeney left the game with an ankle injury. You can imagine the fear and apprehension Coach George Small and his staff had when Sweeney went down. The previous week, Sweeney rushed for 150 yards against NC Central and had 42 yards on 7 carries, an average of 5 yards per carry before he left the game.
Speight put all the fears the coaches, players and fans had to rest quickly as he rushed 25 times for a game best 152 yards. What make his day more impressive is the fact that Speight has not seen action since October 16th of last year. He missed the final four games of the season.
The Aggies struggled early an often in the first half and was dominated by the Spartans for the most part as the offense sputtered. The only offense was generated by their defense….a defense that was solid the entire game.
In the first quarter, Norfolk State quarterback Brandon Brooks saw man coverage in the secondary and tossed a 44 yard TD pass to WR James Callaham at 9:41 to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead. The Aggies could not muster any offense but got a big play from Defensive back Brandon Colbert.
Colbert recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown at 8:05 in the first quarter but the extra point by Joseph Arroyo failed to keep the Spartans in the lead 7-6, a score that would hold up at the half and through most of the 3rd quarter. I said MOST of the 3rd quarter.
NC A&T kicker Joseph Arroyo redeemed himself with a 24 yard field goal with 5:48 left in the third quarter to give the Aggies a 9-7 lead. The Aggies extended their lead on an eight play, 80 yard drive with Chad Truesdale finishing the drive with a 5 yard run giving NC A&T a 16-7 lead.
Quante Speight was the big contributor on that drive with runs of 34,10 and 5. He averaged an incredible 6.1 yards per carry on the day.
With a 9 point lead, it seemed like the Aggies went to a “prevent offense and defense” for the rest of the game. Offensively they ran the ball very predictably and defensively, they played a lot more zone and prevent then they had all game.
The conservative play on both sides of the ball almost cost the Aggies the game. With 5:50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Backup quarterback Antonio Gomez threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Allen and with the successfull extra point, the Spartans of Norfolk State trailed only 16-14.
The Spartans would not score again as the Aggies use use Speight and Truesdale to ice the game and secure the victory.
Coach Small was very impressed by Quante Speight stepping up after the injury to Sweeney. ” “As we stated in the team meeting, whoever went down, the next guy has to step up,’’ said Small.
“That was a classic example of the next man stepping up and taking the load.’’ Speight led the way with 152 yards, Sweeney had 42 yards before he left the game, Chad Truesdale added 41 yards on 7 carries and Marshall Glenn pitched in with 17 yards on 3 carries.
The Aggies were led by Marshall Glenn with 82 yards. Norfolk State (0-2, 0-1 MEAC) was led in rushing by Daryl Jones with 77 yards on 12 carries and was led in passing by Brandon Brooks, who completed 13 of his 24 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
With the win, the Aggies improve their record to 1-1, 1-0 in the MEAC. Up next for the Aggies, No. 13 Hampton on Thursday night at 7:30. The game will be aired by ESPNU.