CIAA Preview: Shaw Hits The Road, WSSU Looks To Rebound

Sophmore running back Marquise Grizzle rushed for two touchdowns vs. Charleston last week. (Robert Jowers photo)

Shaw at Virginia Union

Both teams were involved in blowout games last week, albeit on opposite ends. Virginia Union traveled down to Daytona Beach, Fl where it was dominated by defending MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman in a 66-7 loss. Shaw unveiled an explosive passing and rushing attack, gaining over 500 yards of total offense in a 44-14 win over Charleston at home.

While Virginia Union won’t face the kind of size and scholarship number mismatch it found awaiting it last week in Florida, it still head in as the underdog. It will face a Shaw team with the defending HBCU Gameday Offensive Player of The Week in quarterback Quinshon Odom and his new favorite target, former Auburn receiver Kowaski Kitchens, who broke the school’s reception record last week. And then there’s running back Marquise Grizzle, who got his sophomore season off to a sizzling start with 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Virginia Union will likely look to run the ball to slow down Shaw’s offense, but against a Shaw team that held Charleston to less than 3 yards per attempt, that will be no easy task.

Prediction: Shaw by 21

Brian Richards catches the ball over an NCCU defender. (Jowers photo)

St. Augustine’s @ Wingate

St. Aug entered the season predicted to finish in the top three in the CIAA overall, and second in the Southern Division behind two-time defending champion Winston-Salem State. Despite those credentials, St. Aug opened some eyes when it gave D1 North Carolina Central all it could handle before falling 23-20 in double overtime.

Redshirt freshman AJ Guilford was solid in his first collegiate start, throwing for three touchdowns in the loss. The defense played solid for most of the game before NCCU’s depth and size wore it down in the fourth quarter and overtimes. 

St. Aug will travel to Wingate to face a team that is traditionally a strong club with solid success against CIAA teams. The Falcons upset Wingate last year, and if the offense can produce like it did against NCCU, don’t be surprised if they do it again.

Prediction: St. Aug by 3.

Anthony Carrothers and Winston-Salem State will try to bounce back from its first regular season loss in over two years on Saturday. (WSSU photo)

Virginia-Lynchburg @ Winston-Salem State

Winston-Salem State will open at home facing an unfamiliar task for many of its players–attempting to respond to a regular season loss. WSSU saw its 20-game regular season winning streak ended last week when it fell 25-21 to UNC-Pembroke on the road. WSSU will face a Virginia-Lynchburg program that is still transitioning to Division II.

After last week’s loss, WSSU should be set up for an easy warmup before its matchup with the other defending DII HBCU titan, Tuskegee next week.

Prediction: WSSU by 27

Benedict quarterback Marcus Graham accounted for five touchdowns in last week’s blowout win over Central State. 

Virginia State vs. Benedict

Last week both of these teams took home wins, Benedict in a commanding 42-9 win over Central State and VSU in a 29-28 squeaker over Fayetteville State. This game could be a shootout as Benedict’s quarterback Marcus Graham is a threat via pass (3 touchdowns vs. Benedict) and on the ground (86 yards, 2 touchdowns). Virginia State found its offensive rhythm in the second half last week, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Prediction: Benedict by a TD

Bowie State at Johnson C. Smith

Both teams are coming off double digit wins on opening week. Johnson C. Smith disposed of Livingstone 34-17 in the Commemorative Classic while Bowie State posted a strong 42-28 showing over St. Anselm. JCSU played last week without regular starter KeahnWallace, who was suspended. They will need Wallace back in the fold as they go up against a Bowie team that is known for its hard hitting defense.

Prediction: This one could be a dogfight. Bowie by a TD.

Other matchups:

Elizabeth City State at Tusculum 
Alderson Broadus at Chowan
UNC-Pembroke at Fayetteville St.
Catawba at Livingstone
Lincoln at Sacred Heart 

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