The Return of Football in Aggieland

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The crowds looking at the 2019 GHOE Football Game

Alexis Davis, theSCORE Lead Reporter

Saturday night football is back and safer in Aggieland. There seems to be no better way to kick off the season than to face N.C. A&T’s biggest rival, the North Carolina Central Eagles.

After taking a hiatus for the 2020 season due to the current pandemic, N.C. A&T athletics have found a way to allow athletes and fans to still enjoy Aggie football while also being safe. To accomplish this, N.C. A&T has new guidelines in place to ensure a seamless experience for all.

Fans wishing to attend the games must show their vaccination card to enter Truist Stadium. Those who are not vaccinated must show a negative test 72 hours before kickoff.

Children’s attendance is still welcomed for the game. Since children under the age of 12 do not have access to the vaccine, they must follow the same protocol as unvaccinated adults.

During N.C. A&T’s first two games of the season, they were not victorious. Fans in Greensboro, NC are hoping that home cheering and expression of Aggie Pride will be the keys to turning the season around.

The faceoff against the Aggies and Eagles will be N.C. A&T’s first home game. QB Jalen Fowler will be back and ready for the Aggie-Eagle classic. Fowler missed their last game vs Duke.

N.C. A&T running back Jah-Maine Martin broke the school’s touchdown record in 2019 with 23. This year, he is staying consistent by having the bar set high before any games are even played. 

During the 2020-season, Martin was announced the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) offensive player of the year.

On the defensive end of the field, fans’ expectations for Kyin Howard are high. He was on track to seal his legacy as a part of Aggie football after being named the MEAC preseason defensive player of the year, but the pandemic had other plans. 

With the majority of N.C. A&T’s defensive best still being on the roster, the future of other teams scoring against is looking bleak.

Another Aggie looking to show up for their moment is Ron Hunt. Hunt kicked off his 2021 season with two touchdowns against Furman University during the Aggie season opener. Fans are eager to fill up Truist Stadium to see this offensive attraction in action.

There is also a new kid on the turf wearing blue and gold this year, running back Bhaysul Tuten. Tuten showed that he does not get intimidated easily and knows how to perform when the pressure is on. His performance against the Duke Blue Devils led him to being awarded Freshman of the Week from the Big South Conference.

On the opposing end, after NCCU took a loss to Marshall, they still had a special talent of their own. Punter Juan Velarde was named MEAC Football Specialist of the Week shortly after putting him at the top of the NCCU watchlist for N.C. A&T.

Defensive back Manny Smith has also shown he can perform well leading NCCU’s defensive core to victory. Smith will be a challenge for N.C. A&T’s wide receiving core, but Aggies are ready.

Majority of students on campus at N.C. A&T have only been able to experience Aggie football for one or two years out of their entire experience in Greensboro. Being deprived of football has left them feeling like they are not getting the complete Aggie experience. 

“I haven’t been to a football game since my freshman year,” junior chemistry student Jemia Bellamy said. “Once last year’s season was cancelled, I regret not going to more games when I had the chance. I’m excited to leave the game without a voice after cheering for my team.”

Other students miss the social aspect of games and are excited to have something to look forward to after a rigorous week of classes. 

“I’m so excited to put on my Aggie gear and to go to the game with my friends,”junior architectural engineering student Jazmyn Georges said. “One of the reasons I chose A&T is because of the energy in the stands during the games. Attending games is also one way I get my mind off of the stress of school.”

This Saturday, September 25 at 6:00 pm will be the 92nd time the rivals have suited up against each other. N.C. A&T has won the last two match-ups and is hoping to keep the momentum going for a fourth.

Aggie fans near and far will be able to view the game on ESPN+.