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HBCU Football

Week 1 of HBCU football: Canceled game, top performances

Weather cancels MEAC/SWAC Challenge after second-quarter delay

Southern University running back Lenard Tillery continues to show everybody why he’s one of the top rushers in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Tillery, the SWAC preseason offensive player of the year, had a terrific performance Saturday, picking up 161 yards on 26 carries and scoring one touchdown as Southern lost to Louisiana Monroe 38-21 to open the season. He averaged 6.2 yards a carry in a losing effort for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars’ 5-10, 186-pound redshirt senior is already the fifth-leading rusher in the FCS. His ability to run between the tackles and get to the edge with his speed make him a big threat in the open field.

A year ago, Tillery gained 1,211 yards on 197 carries to lead the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in rushing. He seems to be on pace for another big season leading the team’s ground attack.

Weather cancels MEAC/SWAC Challenge

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Daytona Beach, Florida, was canceled because of the weather conditions on Sunday. Alcorn State was leading Bethune-Cookman 13-7 in the second quarter at the time. The game was stopped because of lightning and concern for player and fan safety.

Alcorn State will host Alabama State in a SWAC matchup Saturday at 6 p.m. Bethune-Cookman will travel to North Texas on Saturday to play at 6 p.m. These games will be like season openers for both teams, since the Challenge was canceled.

Top performances

  • Prairie View A&M quarterback Trey Green helped the Panthers grab a 29-25 win over Texas Southern. Green completed 16-of-32 passes for 203 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had eight carries for 37 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run.
  • Texas Southern wide receiver Derrick Griffin had a great day, catching six passes for 90 yards. The Tigers’ 6-foot-7 wide receiver had a 46-yard touchdown reception.
  • North Carolina A&T senior running back Tarik Cohen scored two touchdowns in the Aggies’ 62-0 win over Saint Augustine’s. Cohen’s two scores gave him 42 career touchdowns and the school record, breaking Stoney Polite’s 41 to set the new mark. Cohen has 40 touchdowns on the ground and two touchdown passes. Polite’s 41 were all rushing touchdowns. So he still has the Aggies’ rushing touchdown record.
  • Morgan State dropped a 51-24 decision to Holy Cross, but its running game was a bright spot. Senior running back Orlando Johnson had 10 carries for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Delaware State defensive back Logan Wescott made a lot of plays in the Hornets’ 56-14 loss to Delaware. He was the game’s leading tackler with 14 total and eight solo tackles.
  • South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard had 16 total and eight solo tackles in the Bulldogs’ 38-0 loss to University of Central Florida.
  • Hampton’s senior wide receiver Rashawn Proctor had career highs in receptions and yards in the Pirates’ 54-21 loss to Old Dominion. Proctor had nine catches for 161 yards.
  • Tuskegee senior quarterback Kevin Lacey was 8-for-8 passing for 179 yards and one touchdown in the Golden Tigers’ 36-13 win over Clark Atlanta. The Golden Tigers are ranked 17th in Division II.

Notes: Three players from historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) – Cohen, of North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State offensive tackle Javarius Leamon and Tennessee State offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker – have been named to the 2016-17 Senior Bowl Watch List. They are just three of 34 FCS players on the list. The Senior Bowl will be on Jan. 28, 2017, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

  • The Black College Football Hall of Fame has established the Black College Football Player of the Year Award. This honor will be presented to the top football player from an HBCU. The winner will receive this inaugural award on Feb. 25, 2017, at the eighth annual Black College Football Hall of Fame ceremony in Atlanta. The hall named the award after legendary great Deacon Jones.

Donald Hunt, a writer for the Philadelphia Tribune, is a longtime ESPN contributor who has covered Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Follow him on Twitter at @DHUNTTRIB.