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By Daniel Henderson -- Black College Wire   

After the Aggie football team sprinted in between the band during their introduction in Saturday's season opener, senior defensive backs Michael Pace and Brandon Colbert took a knee for prayer in the end zone before battle.

A&T Register/Brittney Hannah
Aggies celebrate victory
Apparently their prayers were answered in A&T's home debut as the Aggies snapped a 27 game losing streak in a 44-12 victory over Division II Johnson C. Smith, giving many players their first victory in a blue and gold uniform, and head coach Lee Fobbs his first in 23 games.

"I'm glad we can stop talking about it and move on,'' said Fobbs after the game Saturday about ending the streak. "I've certainly been plagued by it the last two years."

The two years he was referring to happened to date back in the spring of 2006 when Fobbs was hired as the new head coach of the former MEAC champion team.

A&T had just previously won the district in 2004, but in 2005 had set the foundation for a losing streak many fans did not expect to last long after succumbing the final five games of that year.

The Aggies had not seen a victory since October 8 of that year.

"These guys work everyday," said Fobbs. "It's tough on them when they fall on the losing side of the ball in games. We'll enjoy it tonight and then tomorrow it's all about our next opponent."

The Aggies put up points in bunches finding the end zone three times in the first quarter outscoring last season's average (14.7 ppg.) with 21.

After all-conference running back Michael Ferguson fumbled on the first drive, A&T's defense forced Johnson C. Smith to give the ball back to the Aggies when redshirt senior Trahern Chaplain blocked the game's first punt.

Ferguson responded to the special teams effort with a 2 yard touchdown run for the game's first score.

JCSU answered back with a 12 play, 76 yard drive that ended with Kevin Allen's 3 yard touchdown run, but did not find the end zone again until the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

Led by junior linebacker Andre Thornton, the Aggie defense only allowed 95 total rushing yards to JCSU while forcing two turnovers and six punts.

"I was telling the boys we should be happy, but we should be use to this," said Thornton after the game.

The leading tackler from last season had never experienced victory as an Aggie football player after going undefeated at Independence High School in Charlotte.
"This is the biggest one," said the four-time high school state champion about the wins in his football career. "This is the best feeling than any other championship ring I ever got.

Considering this from the five games last season that A&T fell short in the fourth quarter, Thornton remained optimistic about the remainder of the season.

"I felt like we were working as hard as we could in practice and it was just not coming," said Thornton.

"This is something we should start doing more often and I feel it's going to start coming."

Contrary to A&T's defense, the Golden Bulls surrendered 291 rushing yards, with two players gaining over JCSU's total rushing offense.

Ferguson finished the game with 15 attempts for 106 yards and two trips for six, as junior Dion McNair helped take the load off the preseason pick with 18 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown.

"I expect big things and consider this a break out game," said McMair." "It's the best I had since I've been here. The offensive line opened up holes for me to able to run and show what I can do."
McNair, who saw limited action last season, proved to be a solid unexpected threat on the ground by the Golden Bulls.

"They did an excellent job running the ball with multiple backs", said Golden Bulls head coach Daryl McNeill.

Perhaps the most inspiring part of the offense for A&T was junior quarterback Herbert Miller's performance in the improved passing attack after being named the starter at the competitive position this season.

Miller threw two touchdowns in the first half while eclipsing 100 yards passing in the second quarter.

He finished the game 13 for 22 for 157 yards, and could have increased his statistics in the second half if A&T would had chose to keep the ball in the air.

With the game out of reach throughout much of the contest, the Aggies ran the ball for the majority of the second period and Miller was replaced by junior second stringer Carlton Fears early in the fourth.
"Herb had really matured at his position in the off season and it showed tonight," said Fobbs. "We have a lot of confidence in him and that's why he is where he is."

The Aggies will try to double their wins this Saturday at Aggie Stadium in the I-40 battle against rival Winston-Salem State University.

Last season, the Rams hosted the blue and gold's first loss in a 28-7 defeat in Winston- Salem.

"We can be happy for a little time, but we have to get back and work tomorrow for the next game," said Thornton.

Game time is at approximately 6 p.m.

Daniel Henderson writes for the A&T Register, the North Carolina A&T student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Sep. 03, 2008
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