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NCCU Beats Hampton to Remain ATOP MEAC
DURHAM, N.C. - A near capacity crowd inside O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium and an ESPNU national television audience watched North Carolina Central University win its fourth game in a row with a 37-20 victory over Hampton University on Thursday night.
The Eagles remain unbeaten in the MEAC with a 4-0 record and improve their overall tally to 5-2. The win also ends NCCU's eight-game losing skid against the Pirates, as the Eagles dropped Hampton for the first time since Sept. 24, 1983.
NCCU scored touchdowns in all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. And the Eagles chipped in a field goal for good measure.
An overpowering NCCU defense forced four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and tackled 12 Hampton ball-carriers behind the line of scrimmage, including eight quarterback sacks.
The defensive play of the night, which was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10, was turned in by junior linebacker Tazmon Foster, who intercepted a pass and broke three tackles on the way to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown. Foster added a fumble recovery and tied for the team lead with eight takedowns.
Fellow NCCU linebacker Ty Brown also recorded eight tackles, including 2.5 hits for a loss with a sack. Linebacker Matt Willison collected seven stops with a forced fumble, while safety Ryan Smith posted seven tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery.
A staunch defensive front was anchored by seniors Xavier Proctor, Stephen Young and John Drew. Proctor recorded six takedowns (five solo) with 3.5 hits for a loss with 2.5 sacks, Young added four stops with a pair of sacks, and Drew contributed four tackles with a takedown behind the line of scrimmage.
NCCU junior quarterback Jordan Reid threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 11-for-22 passing. He found senior receiver Geovonie Irvine four times for 99 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown connection that provided the Eagles with a 20-3 halftime advantage.
A 20-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Oleg Parent increased the lead to 23-3 midway through the third quarter.
However, Hampton made the game interesting with 17 unanswered points to trim the deficit to 23-20 on a 38-yard touchdown scamper by Pirates' running back Jeremiah Schwartz, who finished the contest with 129 ground yards and a pair of scores.
On the ensuing kickoff, NCCU senior play-maker Arthur Goforth electrified the crowd of 9,648 with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to slam the momentum back into the Eagles' favor with 9:09 remaining in the contest.
A 20-yard touchdown pass from Reid to senior running back Gary Douglas sealed the victory.
Irvine's four catches moves the senior into second on the NCCU career receptions list with 152 for 2,209 yards and 16 touchdowns.
NCCU hits the road for the sixth time this season next week at Bethune-Cookman. The Eagles and Wildcats currently share the lead in the conference standings. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. in Daytona Beach, Fla.