MEAC’s HU, NSU kick off season with evening games Saturday
9/2/2016, 4:05 p.m.
Hampton University and Norfolk State University are taking different approaches to their football openers.
HU is traveling to face a higher division program, Old Dominion University, while NSU is playing at home at Dick Price Stadium to meet a lower division opponent, Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.
The Elizabeth City-NSU contest is a renewal of the long-standing Labor Day Classic.
As members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, or MEAC, HU and NSU are affiliated with the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) of the NCAA.
Old Dominion is a member of Conference USA of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) — the top tier. ODU plays home games at Foreman Field, which was Norfolk State’s home turf prior to the opening of Dick Price Stadium in 1997.
Elizabeth City State plays in Division II of the CIAA.
Under Coach Connell Maynor, HU went 7-4 a year ago, with 39 touchdowns and averaging 352 yards per game.
The Pirates feature All-MEAC wideout Twarn Mixson, who made 59 receptions in 2015 for 1,027 yards and nine touchdowns.
After traveling to ODU, Hampton will return to Armstrong Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, to face the College of William & Mary of the FCS.
NSU finished 4-7 last season under first-year Coach Latrell Scott.
The Spartans showcase versatile back Gerald Johnson, who ran for 463 yards and caught passes for another 213 yards last season.
Johnson is a former All-Central Region quarterback at Meadowbrook High School in Chesterfield County.
For decades, the MEAC champion advanced to compete in the FCS playoffs, with little success on the field or financially to show for the efforts.
Starting last season, MEAC and the other historically black FCS conference, the South- western Athletic Conference or SWAC, agreed to send their champions to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
MEAC champ North Carolina A&T State University defeated Alcorn State University of the SWAC 41-34 in the inaugural contest.
This year’s game will be Dec. 16.
ESPN is paying MEAC and SWAC $1 million each for broadcast rights.