NC Central takes the road to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship with a Thursday night home game against Morgan State.
The Eagles (4-1) had last week off, and head coach Trei Oliver says while the team got off to a good start, it’s not dwelling on that.
“We know we played some decent football early, but we’re not looking on that,” Oliver says. “And we know we talked about as a reason why the windshield is bigger than your rearview mirror. You’ve got to focus on what’s ahead of you, not what’s behind you.”
For sure, the Eagles won’t be looking back at their last contest. Campbell ended NC Central’s four-game winning streak with a 48-18 beating on the road. Oliver found very little to make him happy in that game, save for quarterback Davius Richard, who ran for a touchdown and threw for two more in the loss.
“So, we knew we let some things get away from us in the Campbell game that we worked to get corrected,” Oliver says. “We knew we had to improve across the board with our technique and fundamentals, from our punter to the quarterback, to our DBs and running back. So, it’s a whole lot that we had to work on, and we’re looking to get better weekly.”
In the case of Richard, getting better means improving upon statistics that make him one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He is tenth in the FCS in points responsible for, averaging an MEAC-high 18 points per game. In five games, he has thrown for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns, and has rushed for 286 yards and six touchdowns, leading the conference with an average of 267 yards of total offense per game.
On the other sideline, Morgan State running back Alfonzo Graham will get the attention of the NCCU defense. Graham leads the conference in rushing with 108.4 yards per game.Richard is second at 57.2 rushing yards per game and teammate running back Latrell Collier is third at 52.8 yards a game.
“He’s going to get our undivided attention,” Oliver says of Graham. “He’s great inside the tackles with his vision, his balance and his physicality. And then on the perimeter, he can fly.”
And just as Oliver is keeping a defensive eye on Graham, Morgan State coach Damon Wilson will try to keep Richard in check.
“We have to make him one-dimensional,” Wilson says. “We can’t let him come in the game and do everything that he likes to do. He has the ability to run the ball and has a tremendous amount of arm talent. But if we play sound defense, we’ll give ourselves am opportunity to be successful.”
Morgan State (2-3, 0-1 MEAC) holds a 24-17-2 edge in the series and has won seven of the last 13 meetings. However, NC Central has won the last four games. In addition, four of the last seven games between the two schools have been decided with less than seven minutes left to play.