LUT WILLIAMS, BCSP Editor
The first month of games in the 2022 season is over.
As we head into October’s games this week, there are six undefeated teams left – Virginia Union in the CIAA, North Carolina Central in the MEAC, Fort Valley State and Benedict in the SIAC, Jackson State in the SWAC and Langston from the NAIA.
Also, October is homecoming season. Six of those special dates are on tap this week if Hurricane Ian lets them happen. At the top of the list of this week’s games is a matchup of two undefeateds.
Benedict and Fort Valley State head into their SIAC East Division showdown in Fort Valley Ga. Saturday with both touting unblemished 4-0 records. For added intrigue, it’s FVSU’s homecoming (2 p.m.).
Benedict has the top scoring offense in the league at 32.5 points per game and the top scoring defense surrendering just 8.5 points per game. FVSU scores at a 25.8 points per game clip while giving up 16.8 ppg.
Head coach Chennis Berry’s Benedict squad has gotten it done with a dynamic offense led by quarterbacks Eric Phoenix and John Lampley and running back Noah Zaire Scotland. Phoenix and Lampley have played in all four games with Phoenix getting the majority of the snaps. But between them, they have not thrown an interception.
Phoenix, a 6-3, 205-pound junior out of Savannah, Ga., is completing 63% of his passes for 562 yards and six TDs. Lampley, a 6-3, 200-pound grad student from Kennesaw, Ga., has thrown for 295 yards and three TDs while completing just under 49% of his passes. Scotland, a freshman from Walhalla, S.C., is currently second in the SIAC with 313 rushing yards (78.2 ypg.) and three TDs.
FVSU, in its first year under former NC A&T running backs coach Shawn Gibbs, can match Benedict offensively. Running back Emanuel Wilson leads the SIAC with 542 yards rushing (135.5 ypg.) and five TDs. Sophomore QB Kelvin Durham is completing 58.7% of his passes and has also not thrown a pick while throwing for 770 yards and four TDs.
The teams have one common opponent, Kentucky State. FVSU narrowly got by the Thorobreds 9-7 on Sept. 10. Benedict pulled away to a 40-14 win over KSU last week.
The game to watch in the CIAA is in Ettrick, Va. (6 p.m.) where surefire contenders Virginia State (3-1, 2-0) and Shaw (2-2, 2-0) will do battle.
VSU, under new head coach Dr. Henry Frazier III, is trying to keep pace with undefeated Virginia Union (4-0, 2-0) in the CIAA North.
VSU running back Darius Hagans (486 yards, 121.3 ypg.) only trails NCAA Div. II leader Jada Byers of VUU (777 yds., 194.3 ypg.) in CIAA rushing stats. Shaw’s Sidney Gibbs, last year’s league rushing leader, is fourth in the CIAA with 59.3 ypg. VSU is led by QB Jabari Blake (337 passing yds., 3 TDs) while Christian Peters (473 yds., 3 TDs) is at the controls for the Bears. VSU is averaging 31.5 points per game, second only to VUU’s 48.9. Shaw is scoring at a 20.3 ppg. clip.
VUU plays at St. Augustine’s (1 p.m.)
For moving to 4-0 with a 59-14 win over winless NAIA program Virginia-Lynchburg Saturday, NC Central dropped out of the STATS Perform FCS Top 25. A win at Big South member Campbell (1-2) could get them right back in it.
Campbell was picked behind NC A&T in most Big South preseason predictions. Light on College Sports also ranked head coach Mike Minter’s Camels with the second-best FCS recruiting class behind only Deion Sanders and Jackson State.
They feature QB Hajj Malik Williams and RB Bryant Barr. They will be playing the first
of four games against HBCU teams. They play at Jackson State’s homecoming on Oct. 22, at NC A&T’s homecoming on Oct. 29 and close the season at Delaware State on Nov. 19.
NC A&T and Bryant come in with identical 1-3 records overall for their 7 p.m. matchup in Greensboro Saturday. This is the first Big South game for both schools. The Aggies come in with league’s top running game(184.0 ypg.) led by Big South leader, sophomore Bhayshul Tuten’s 105 yards per game. Bryant sports the league’s top passer in Zebi Eckhaus (257.5 ypg., 7 TDs, 3 ints.).
Jackson State has a bye week. S. C. State’s game at South Carolina has been moved to Thursday.