The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is an annual game that features teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Launched in 2005 and played on Labor Day Weekend, the matchup was held for its first three years at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. In 2008, the event moved to Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla. In 2016, the Challenge will move up I-4 to Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, showcasing Bethune-Cookman University and Alcorn State University. The game will take place on Sunday, September 4 and be televised on ESPN at 1 ET. The 2017 event will take place in Baton Rouge, La., featuring Southern University and South Carolina State University.
The MEAC is 9-2 all-time in the event.
South Carolina State 35, Arkansas – Pine Bluff 7
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
The South Carolina State defense allowed just 140 total yards to help the Bulldogs overcome five turnovers and beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 35-7 in the 11th annual event. Senior defensive end Javon Hargrave was the star, posting 7 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks while picking up MVP honors. Hargrave went on to be selected in the 3rd Round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Bulldogs were balanced on the offensive side of the ball, picking up 163 yards through the air and 173 yards on the ground. They only took a 7-0 lead into halftime, but quickly stretched their lead to 21-0 in the opening minutes of the 3rd quarter by way of two defensive touchdowns. The Golden Lions responded with a 20 yard touchdown run by Draylon Willis, but it was all Bulldogs from there as rain started falling at the Citrus Bowl. The scoring was capped off with a 13 yard run by Justin Taylor on the first play of the 4th quarter. South Carolina State moved to 3-0 all-time in the event and improved the MEAC’s mark to 8-3.
North Carolina A&T 47, Alabama A&M 13
Bright House Networks Stadium – Orlando, FL
Speed was Alabama A&M’s undoing at Bright House Networks Stadium as the North Carolina A&T State Aggies sprinted to touchdown runs of 26, 59 and 80 as well as a 95-yard kickoff return by junior Tony McRae, all in the first half, to cruise to a 47-13 win in the 10th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney. A&T Sophomore Tarik Cohen was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. The Aggies’ 32-point win was their most lopsided win over a SWAC opponent in school history, surpassing the Aggies 28-12 win over Grambling in 1991. Fifth year linebacker D’Vonte Grant and redshirt junior Denzel Jones led the Aggies defensively with 10 tackles apiece.
Florida A&M 27, Mississippi Valley State 10
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
Damien Fleming, Omari Albert and Al-Terek McBurse of the Rattlers ran for touchdowns as Florida A&M beat Mississippi Valley State 27-10. Fleming passed for 110 yards and ran for 38, before leaving in the third quarter because of leg cramps. The Delta Devils of the SWAC struggled with the Rattlers defense as quarterbacks Patrick Ivy and Jeremy Collins combined to throw three interceptions and were held to 88 yards passing. Ivy ran for 74 yards, including a 64-yarder. The Rattlers of the MEAC took a 20-0 lead going into halftime behind touchdown runs from Fleming and Albert and two short field goals by Chase Varnadore. Mississippi Valley State closed to 20-10 after Collins scored on a 2-yard sneak with 10:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Bethune-Cookman 38, Alabama State 28
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
The Hornets of Alabama State scored on three of their first four possessions to take a 21-0 second quarter lead. Greg Jenkins scored two touchdowns to cap off drives of 75 and 72 yards, and Isaiah Crowell’s 2-yard run was set up by a fumbled punt on Bethune-Cookman’s own 20-yard line. Broderick Waters threw two touchdowns and ran for another as Bethune-Cookman erased a
three-touchdown, first-half deficit and defeated Alabama State 38-28. Waters came off the bench to help Bethune-Cookman score 38 straight points. He completed six of nine passes for 109 yards and rushed for an additional 100. BCU took a 24-21 lead on Waters’ 6-yard run with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter after instant replay overturned a call on a fumbled kickoff return and gave the Wildcats the ball on the Alabama State 25.
Bethune-Cookman 63, Prairie View A&M 14
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
Jamarr Robinson ran for two touchdowns and passed for another to lead Bethune-Cookman (BCU) past Prairie View A&M (PVAMU) 63-14. Isidore Jackson and Anthony Jordan scored two touchdowns each for the defending MEAC co-champs. Robinson began the scoring with a 10-yard run on BCU’s first possession. After a 9-yard TD run by Robinson at 13:03 of the second quarter, the Wildcats scored two defensive touchdowns 95 seconds apart. D.J. Howard went 31 yards with a fumble and Reggie Sandilands scooted 51 yards for another. The Wildcats forced five first-half turnovers by PVAMU. The Panthers committed six turnovers overall, three leading directly to BCU touchdowns in the first meeting between these schools. Robinson, a transfer from Maryland, completed 22-of-31 passes for 251 yards. BCU took a 42-0 lead late in the second quarter and finished with 500 total yards. Robinson went to the bench after taking the Wildcats on a 76-yard touchdown drive to start the third quarter. Jonathan Troast was 12-of-22 for 116 yards and two interceptions for the Panthers, who finished with 262 total yards. Troast hit Deandre Cooper from 11 yards 3:45 before halftime to make it 42-7.
Southern 37, Delaware State 27
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
Dray Joseph threw for 162 yards and a touchdown and Southern scored 21 fourth-quarter points for a 37-27 victory against Delaware State in the sixth annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge. The victory gave Southern coach Stump Mitchell a successful debut as Jaguars coach and the SWAC its second victory in the series with the MEAC. Delaware State led 19-16 at halftime behind two long touchdowns by Larrone Moore. He scored on an 85-yard pass from Anthony Gluad and a 90-yard kickoff return. Nick Elko’s 38-yard pass to Justin Williams five minutes into the third quarter put Delaware State up 27-16. Joseph, a freshman, was pressed into his first start when Southern’s Jermia McGinty was sidelined with body cramps. Joseph accounted for two of the three Jaguars’ fourth quarter scores as Southern erased a 27-16 deficit. Joseph’s 5-yard run cut the lead to 27- 23 with 7:59 remaining. Southern took a 30-27 lead with 4:43 left on Corey Cushingberry’s 64-yard punt return. Jason House’s 23-yard interception set up Joseph’s 4-yard TD toss to Rashuan Allen with 1:53 left. Sylveste Nzekwe led the Jaguars with 98 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Southern’s defense took control after that, holding the Hornets without a first down on their next five possessions. Gluad threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
South Carolina State 34, Grambling 31 Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
South Carolina State quarterbacks Malcolm Long and Derrick Wiley combined to throw three touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 34-31 win over Grambling in the fifth annual MEAC/SWAC
Challenge. The Bulldogs jumped to a 14-0 lead behind two touchdown passes from Long and never trailed the remainder of the game. Wiley, who replaced Long in the first half after he went down with cramps, made his impact in the second half. He had a 39-yard run on a designed quarterback draw to set up a short touchdown run by Travil Johnson, giving the Bulldogs a 28-17 lead. But South Carolina State needed an interception from Semaj Moody in the final minute to stop a late rally by Grambling. Grambling quarterback Greg Dillon threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns but also lost two fumbles.
Hampton 17, Jackson State 13
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL
Hampton University converted a pair of second half turnovers into touchdowns to rally past Jackson State 17-13. Kendrick Ellis set up the Hampton’s first touchdown by recovering a fumble at
Jackson State’s 11-yard line. Hampton’s Jerry Cummings slammed in from a yard out three plays later. Cummings scored on a 1-yard run and Jeremy Gilchrist caught a 12-yard scoring pass from Herbert Bynes to rally the Pirates from a 7-3 halftime deficit in the season opener for both teams. Jackson State’s Trae Rutland hit Rodney Gray with a 31-yard scoring pass on the Tigers’ first possession of the game, but the SWAC team didn’t score again until the middle of the fourth quarter when Rashad Smith dove into the end zone with a 10-yard scoring toss from backup quarterback Michael Mosley. Three turnovers in the third quarter destroyed the Tigers. Rutland had a pass intercepted in Hampton’s end zone and JSU lost two fumbles in their own territory to give Hampton hope. Bynes completed 14-of-23 passes for 151 yards. Dennis Mathis was the Pirates leading rusher with 46 yards on 15 carries. Rutland was 14-of-23 for 198 yards and touchdown for Jackson State, but got pulled in favor of Mosley after the third quarter errors. Mosley was four of 16 for 50 yards and threw the Tiger’s last touchdown.
Southern 33, Florida A&M 27 Legion Field – Birmingham, AL
Bryant Lee completed 22 of 29 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown and Darren Coates rushed for 142 yards and two scores to lead the Southern University Jaguars to a 33-27 victory over the Florida A&M Rattlers in the third annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge. The Jaguars trailed 20-12 at halftime, but scored three touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half to jump to a 33-20 lead. Lee put Southern in front 26-20 with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter and then Coates’ 1-yard plunge early in the fourth made the score 33-20. The Rattlers were unable to overcome injuries to their top two quarterbacks. Backup Leon Camel played most of the first half because of a shoulder injury to starter Albert Chester. Camel then left the game with a foot injury in the third quarter, forcing Chester to return.
Hampton 27, Grambling 26 (OT)
Legion Field – Birmingham, AL
Derius Swinton blocked Grambling State University’s point after attempt in overtime to preserve Hampton University’s 27-26 victory. The game featured the 2005 champions from the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Hampton dominated on the ground, running for 203 yards while limiting Grambling to 30. Van Morgan ran for 82 yards and Alonzo Coleman gained 72 for Hampton. Kevin Beverly scored on a 10-yard pass from TJ Mitchell to open the overtime scoring for Hampton. Grambling State answered with Tim Abney’s 12-yard scoring pass from Brandon Landers, but Swinton averted a second OT period with his block. Hampton had tied the game with Mitchell’s 9-yard TD pass to Onrea Jones with 1:10 left in regulation, a drive that began with Landers’ fumble at Grambling State’s 13-yard line. Grambling moved downfield, but Tim Manuel’s 44-yard field goal attempt as time expired went wide left. Mitchell completed 6-of-16 passes for 85 yards with an interception. Princeton Shepherd was 8-of-11 for 120 yards, and Marquay McDaniel had six receptions for 113 yards. Landers finished 21-of-41 for 273 yards, throwing touchdown passes to four different players. He was intercepted once.
South Carolina State 27, Alabama State 14 Legion Field – Birmingham, AL
South Carolina State University (SCSU) quarterback Cleveland McCoy took home the most valuable player as he racked up 240 yards of total offense in their 27-14 win over Alabama State in the inaugural MEAC/SWAC Challenge in front of an announced crowd of 18,452 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Opposing Alabama State University (ASU) quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns to take most valuable player honors for the Hornets. ASU never led and had significant problems moving the football for most of the afternoon. McCoy finished off a five-play, 70-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 advantage on their first series. Their next series ended with a 28-yard field goal by Stephen Grantham and when DeShawn Baker scored from one yard out 41 seconds into the second quarter, SCSU had built a 17-0 advantage. SCSU racked up 416 yards in total offense. By halftime, the Bulldogs led 17-7. After a roughing the kicker penalty erased a 22-yard field goal by Grantham, SCSU’s Jonathan Woods marched in from the 4-yard line to put the Hornets into a 24-7 hole with five seconds left in the third quarter. A 22-yard field goal by Grantham with 10 minutes to go expanded the SCSU lead to 27-7, but Jackson and Hoffman hooked up on a 79-yard touchdown pass on the Hornets’ next play from scrimmage to close out the scoring.