The Celebration Bowl annually hosts two FCS schools. Each year, the best teams from the SWAC and MEAC meet up in Atlanta. The game is often dubbed the Historically Black College (HBCU) National Championship. This season, North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State will be playing in the game.
North Carolina A&T Aggies (8-3)
North Carolina A&T made the Celebration Bowl because Florida A&M, who had the best record in the MEAC, is ineligible for postseason play. The Aggies had a 6-2 conference record, losing to Florida A&M and Morgan State. In their only contest against an FBS team, they lost to Duke 45-13.
The offense scores 35.7 points per game, which ranks 15th in the FCS. Their 237 rushing yards per game rank 11th. With their 193.8 passing yards per game, the Aggies rank 85th.
Kylil Carter has been under center for the Aggies this season. He has passed for 1,831 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions on 53.8 percent completion. Four receivers have at least 200 receiving yards for the Aggies. The leader is Elijah Bell with 49 receptions for 720 yards and five touchdowns.
The leading rusher on the team is Jah-Maine Martin, who finished the season with 1,136 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. Carter chipped in with 444 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Backup running back Kashon Baker helped out with his 363 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
On defense, the Aggies allow 18.6 points per game, which is 10th best in the FCS. They have a great rush defense, which ranks fourth in the country at 76.4 yards allowed per game. Their pass defense isn’t bad either, as they give up 194 passing yards per game, ranking 26th in the FCS. Defensive lineman Jermaine McDaniel and Devin Harrell have been effective pass rushers for the Aggies with five sacks each.
Alcorn State Braves (9-3)
Alcorn State qualified for the Celebration Bowl by winning the SWAC. They went 6-1 in the SWAC, only losing to Grambling. Their other losses came to McNeese State and Southern Miss (FBS). The Braves beat Southern in the SWAC Championship to qualify for this bowl game.
They score 32.8 points per game, which ranks 26th in the country. Alcorn State rushes for 158.3 yards per game, which is 55th best in the FCS. Their passing offense accounts for 244.5 yards per game, ranking 39th.
Felix Harper is the quarterback for the Braves this season. He has thrown for 2,613 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 60.7 percent completion. Five players have over 200 yards receiving on the season, but their top two stand out. Chris Blair has 38 receptions for 795 yards and six touchdowns. LeCharles Pringle comes into this game with 42 receptions for 762 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Braves have two running backs who do most of the damage on the ground. Niko Duffey has rushed for 787 yards and six touchdowns. De’Shawn Waller has 458 yards and three touchdowns.
They allow 19.7 points per game, putting them at 12th in the FCS. Alcorn State gives up 137.8 yards on the ground, which ranks 31st. Their pass defense gives up 198.3 yards per game, which is 30th in the country. They have some good defensive backs helping them out. Qwynnterrio Cole has five interceptions and Taurence Wilson has four.
NC A&T may have fewer wins than Alcorn State, but they are comfortable playing in this game, as they have played in four straight. The Aggies are one of the best teams on both sides of the ball this season and will be able to slip by Alcorn State.
North Carolina A&T Aggies 29 Alcorn State Braves 23
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