DURHAM, N.C. (Sept. 9) – Darryl “D.J.” Johnson (Sr./Richmond, VA) threw two touchdown passes for Saint Augustine’s University in a 51-14 football loss to North Carolina Central University at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Saturday night, Sept. 8.
The contest was the second straight on the road against a Division I FCS opponent for the Falcons, who play their home opener Saturday, Sept. 15, against Virginia State University. It will be their first matchup against a Division II opponent this season.
The Falcons (0-2 overall) expect to fare better against Virginia State after facing two tough opponents to open the season. The good news is both losses to Jacksonville and North Carolina Central do not count in the CIAA standings. In fact, the competition should help the Falcons when conference play starts in two weeks.
Despite the loss to NCCU, the Falcons actually outplayed the Eagles (1-1 overall) during certain stretches of the contest. They forced the Eagles to punt on their first two possessions and nearly provided the game’s biggest play in the early moments. A spectacular long punt return by Lenwood Joyner (Sr./Miami, FL) deep in Eagles’ territory was nullified by a penalty.
The loss also showed progress from 2016, the last time Saint Augustines played N.C. Central, which in addition to being Division I is a much larger school. In that contest, in September of 2016, the Falcons only managed one score in a 65-7 loss.
The Eagles scored on their next drive and took advantage of a disputed Falcons’ turnover to push their lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. Johnson appeared to throw an incomplete pass to Jeremiah Miller (Jr./Miami, FL) behind the line of scrimmage but it was ruled a fumble that the Eagles recovered.
After falling behind 20-0 in the second quarter, the Falcons got on the scoreboard when Johnson found Miller for a seven-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. Sean Smith (Sr./Valdosta, GA) booted the extra point.
The Falcons scored their final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Johnson connected with Anthony Berry, Jr. (Fr./Kinston, NC) in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Smith kicked the extra point for the Falcons.
Johnson finished with 145 passing yards and Miller rushed for 66 yards on 14 carries for an average of 4.7 yards per carry. DeAndre Conley (Fr./Miami, FL) caught four passes for 58 yards and Desmond Smith (Sr./Richmond, VA) added three catches for 50 yards including a nice 36-yard grab down the left sideline from Johnson which led to the Falcons’ first touchdown. Defensively, safety Roy Garris, Jr. (Jr./Raleigh, NC) led both teams with a career-high 13 tackles and defensive back Curtis Hardy (Jr./Washington, DC) added six tackles.
For the Eagles, Naiil Ramadan tossed three touchdown passes and Chauncey Caldwell added two scoring throws. Cornerback Marcus Martin had six tackles for NCCU on defense.
The Virginia State contest is the first of two straight home games for the Falcons. On Sept. 22, Bowie State University comes to the George Williams Athletic Complex for the second consecutive season.