N.C. A&T wins Celebration Bowl

Fred Jeter | 12/22/2017, 3:30 p.m.
On a football scale of 1 to 12, North Carolina A&T State University is a 12. The Aggies finished the ...

On a football scale of 1 to 12, North Carolina A&T State University is a 12.

The Aggies finished the season 12-0 with a 21-14 victory over Grambling State University of Louisiana last Saturday in the third annual Celebration Bowl at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

A crowd of 25,873 witnessed the victory, along with a national television audience on ABC.

The game features winners from the MEAC (North Carolina A&T) and SWAC (Grambling) conferences, while also deciding the Black College Football National Championship.

The conferences were awarded $1 million each by bowl organizers, which is to be divided among its member schools.

North Carolina A&T, located in Greensboro, also won the Celebration Bowl in 2015, defeating Alcorn State University.

Grambling was the 2016 winner over North Carolina Central University.

Aggies’ tailback Marquell Cartwright rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for another 54 yards, while earning MVP honors. North Carolina A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard scored the decisive touchdown on a 1-yard run with 22 seconds left.

Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade passed for 225 yards and rushed for another 93.

North Carolina A&T Coach Rod Broadway now has won five Black College titles at three different schools. Coach Broadway claimed national titles in 2005 and 2006 at North Carolina Central and in 2008 at Grambling. He has added two at North Carolina A&T.

Coach Broadway, now 40-8 overall at North Carolina A&T, is up for contract renewal after this season.

This marks first time a MEAC team has ever gone undefeated in a season. The conference was founded in 1971.

MEAC and SWAC affiliates are aligned with the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) of the NCAA. They have chosen to play in the Celebration Bowl over FCS playoffs because of a guaranteed payout and TV exposure.

The celebration continued after the game’s final whistle. Also televised on ESPN3 was the postgame Battle of the Bands, dubbed the “Fifth Quarter.” North Carolina A&T won that, too.