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HBCU Football

CIAA champs Bowie State headed to NCAA playoffs

MEAC title comes down to FAMU and N.C. A&T games this weekend

Black college football has two new champions after the conference championship games in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) over the weekend.

Bowie State, which won its first CIAA championship, advances to the NCAA Division II playoffs, and Miles College beat Albany State in their second game this season for the SIAC title.

Quarterback Amir Hall led the way for Bowie State (6-1 CIAA, 9-2 overall) in its 30-10 victory over Fayetteville State University. Despite an interception and two sacks, Hall had three rushing touchdowns and one in the air. The Bulldogs’ defense held the Broncos to only 88 yards passing and one touchdown. Hall, who had 186 yards passing and 138 yards rushing, broke the 4,000 all-purpose yards threshold with 4,066 yards to close the regular season.

The Bulldogs’ CIAA championship win elevated them to the Division II playoffs. Bowie State will face West Alabama (8-3) of the Gulf South Conference. The West Alabama Tigers beat Miles College 37-21 early in the season and the very next week lost 58-24 to Valdosta State, which is the top seed in the NCAA South Regional. The winner of the Bowie State-West Alabama contest travels to play at Valdosta State.

Miles College (5-6) destroyed visiting Albany (7-4), 50-23, for the conference crown. Albany State had beaten Miles 30-24 in September.

Golden Bears quarterback Daniel Smith finished with 238 yards passing, completing 21 of 32 passes. Running back Justin Hardy rushed for three touchdowns and 128 yards on 27 carries.

The lopsided loss kept Albany State out of the Division II playoffs, leaving the SIAC out of the postseason for the second year in a row.

MEAC title comes down to Saturday

Although it took a 44-21 loss to S.C. State on Saturday, Florida A&M can still win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title on Nov. 17 if it beats rival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic in Orlando.

The Rattlers were beaten decisively as Bulldogs quarterback Tyrece Nick had 20 carries for 138 yards and three touchdowns to lead South Carolina State’s (3-2, 4-5) victory in Tallahassee. The game was considered a nonconference game for the teams, so FAMU remains tied for the MEAC lead.

“We jumped out early, and that gave us a spark within our offense,” said S.C. State coach Buddy Pough. “I’m just proud of the way the guys responded with when FAMU made a run midway through to pull within a score.”

FAMU’s defense was unable to contain South Carolina State’s option offense, with the Bulldogs jumping out to a 17-0 lead.

North Carolina A&T (5-1, 8-2) beat Savannah State 28-12. It will be the MEAC champion and return to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Dec. 15 if Bethune-Cookman upsets the Rattlers. The Aggies play at North Carolina Central (2-3, 4-5) on Saturday.

In the Southwestern Athletic Conference, teams are playing for the Dec. 1 conference title matchup.

In the East Division, Alcorn State is 6-1 and 7-3 overall and in control of its destiny to make that title game. This coming weekend, the Tigers play Jackson State, which has won two straight games under interim head coach John Hendrick.

Southern University (6-3, 5-1) leads the West Division by a game and faces Grambling State in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 24. The winner of that game goes on to the title game Dec. 1.

The SWAC Toyota Football Championship game returns after commissioner Charles McClelland brought it back last summer. It had been discontinued under previous commissioner Duer Sharp. The SWAC title game will be played at the home of the highest-seeded team.

John X. Miller is the senior HBCU editor for Andscape. He's a father, jazz aficionado and die-hard UNC basketball fan.