September 08, 2016

(STATS) - North Carolina A&T proved it was worthy of beginning a season as a nationally ranked team for the first time in 12 years with a blowout victory in its 2016 opener, but it came against a Division II opponent.

Next up for the Aggies is a visit to FBS school Kent State on Saturday night, one of four games for Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference squads in Week 2 where a STATS FCS Top 25 team will be on the field.

North Carolina A&T rolled to a 62-0 win over St. Augustine's last weekend and climbed two spots in the rankings Monday to No. 23. Lamar Raynard went 17 of 21 for 170 yards and two touchdowns while adding a 1-yard scoring run, and two-time MEAC offensive player of the year and All-American Tarik Cohen rushed for two TDs and 44 yards on just eight carries.

Cohen broke Stoney Polite's school record for career touchdowns.

"I feel like I got enough touches," said Cohen, who has 40 rushing TDs and two receiving scores in 35 career games. "I had two touchdowns. I know the team wants to have me for the rest of the season, so we don't want any stupid injuries getting in the way of that."

Kent State of the Mid-American Conference opened its season with a 33-13 loss at Big Ten member Penn State, but the Golden Flashes trailed by just three at halftime. Aggies coach Rod Broadway knows facing an FBS team after a Division II opponent won't be easy.

"The thing that sticks out is the speed at which these guys play," Broadway said. "I'm sure we were fast last week playing against St. Augustine's and now when I look at Kent State, Kent State's fast. I'll say it again, there's a distinct difference between us and Division I. We're not at that level yet. ... With that said, we're going to go up there and compete and we're going to try to win the ballgame."

In other matchups for MEAC teams Saturday, Norfolk State visits No. 2 Richmond (CAA Football), Hampton hosts 13th-ranked William & Mary (CAA Football) and Florida A&M heads out to take on No. 17 Coastal Carolina, an FCS independent that's transitioning to the Sun Belt Conference in the FBS.

Norfolk State opened with a 20-12 win over Division II Elizabeth City State, Hampton was routed 54-21 on the road by Conference USA member Old Dominion and Florida A&M lost 70-3 at Miami of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Spartans will face a Richmond team that stunned ACC member Virginia 37-20 in its opener, the Pirates get a visit from William & Mary after the Tribe fell 48-14 at North Carolina State (ACC) and the Rattlers meet a Coastal Carolina team that beat Southland Conference opponent Lamar 38-14.

North Carolina A&T and Norfolk State were the only MEAC teams to open with wins. The other eight squads that played were completely overmatched, getting outscored by a combined score of 424-81.

The Aggies have dropped all three meetings with FBS teams by an average of 39.7 points, while Kent State is riding a 13-game winning streak over FCS opponents.

"If North Carolina A&T played in the FCS playoffs it would be interesting to see how far they could go," Golden Flashes coach Paul Haynes said. "I think they are just as talented as some of the top teams like North Dakota State and Eastern Washington. Our guys are going to respect the heck out of them."

In games that don't feature STATS FCS Top 25 teams, Howard visits Rutgers (Big Ten), Delaware State hosts Monmouth (Big South), Morgan State plays at Marshall (C-USA), South Carolina State visits Louisiana Tech (C-USA), Savannah State travels to Southern Miss (C-USA), North Carolina Central pays a visit to Western Michigan (Mid-American) and Bethune-Cookman goes to North Texas (C-USA) after its opener against Alcorn State was canceled due to weather.

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