GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2018) — Alex Raya’s 36-yard field goal as time ran out lifted Morgan State to a 16-13 upset over North Carolina A&T on Saturday night, ending the Aggies’ 15-game winning streak.
Raya had tied the game with a career-best 51-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter and kicked his first field goal of the season in the third quarter.
“What a great game,” said MSU interim head coach Ernest T. Jones. “We were playing against the number one football team in the country in our minds.”
“The thing that we liked the most about it is that we stayed true to our identity,” added Jones. “We said we wanted to run the football on offense against the number 1 run defense in the conference and we ran the football. And then we wanted to put our quarterback on the move and let him throw, and we did that. And on defense, we said we were going to get after the quarterback and he’s going to have to get the ball out of his hands, and we were going to tackle the running back, which we did that.”
“We felt good about coming in here and staying true to who we are and we’re getting better and better. We got better from week one to week 2, week 2 to week 3, and now week 3 to week 4 and it finally turned into a W.”
The game was a nonconference matchup between the Bears (1-3), who were picked last in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference the preseason favorite and fourth-ranked FCS Aggies (3-1), who went 12-0 last season, capped by a win over Grambling in the Celebration Bowl.
North Carolina A&T, which was going for a school record 12th-straight home win, had won 39 straight games when leading after three quarters. On Nov. 9, 2013 at Morgan State the Bears won 24-23 when Chris Moller kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired.
After Raya’s long field goal, the Aggies went 49 yards in 14 plays before Noel Ruiz missed a 43-yard field goal with 3:19 to play. The Bears then drove from their 26 to the NCA&T 19 before Raya’s kick after two timeouts.
Coach Jones spoke about the game-winning drive.
“I said Raya, we’re going to go down to try and score. Raya tell me where I need to get to and we’ll at least get you there. We said we were going to just throw the football until we crossed over midfield, and then we were going to try and get it in field goal range. We thought we could beat them one-on-one with our tight end and we thought we could beat them one-on-one with Corey Holmes and we did both of those things and that worked.”
“This win was amazing,” said senior offensive lineman Josh Miles. “It was the first time Morgan State has beaten A&T in a very long time. It’s amazing to go out and get a win against a ranked opponent, even though this was an out of conference game. All my teammates and coaches went out and did the job to the best of their ability and everybody played at the top of their game and it was just amazing to see. The entire offensive line kept pushing the whole time and DeAndre Harris – I’ve never seen him play a game that well, and I know he’s going to keep playing even better. It was just amazing watching my boys play like that.”
Morgan State had a 270-208 advantage in total offense and both teams had two turnovers.
Senior linebacker Rico Kennedy simply summed up the Bears’ thrilling victory, “It’s a new day!”
“We’ve been believing in Coach Jones,” said senior linebacker Rico Kennedy. “We just thank God– and like I said, it’s a new day. This was like the MEAC championship this week. We felt whoever won this game was going to be outright MEAC champions and we just wanted it more. Big plays by Alex Raya and our O-line, the snapper, our defense and just everybody! I just want to thank the Lord. He’s been so good and we’re just going to keep this thing going. It’s a new day!”