ATLANTA, GA – Sponsored by ESPN Events, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge is an annual game launched in 2005 and played on Labor Day Weekend. The matchup was first held at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. This year a series of first occurred in the 2018 MEAC/SWAC Challenge. This was the first time ESPN held the game at the new Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta. This was NCCU’s first appearance in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and the Eagles first game against Prairie View A&M University. Prairie View Panthers (PVAM) downed North Carolina Central Eagles (NCCU) 40-24 in the 2018 14th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge, but the game was closer and more exciting than the score indicates. The game started out as if Prairie View would rout North Carolina Central after the Panthers took a 20 – 0 lead in the first quarter driving down the field at will. The Panthers extended the lead to 23 points in the second quarter with four minutes left, but North Carolina Central (NCCU) start to move the ball with short pass completions and scored their first points with 0:31 seconds left in the first half. In the third quarter with 5:09 minutes remaining, NCCU cut the lead to two points with the score PVAM 23, NCCU 21. The Panthers commence moving the ball again only to be limited to a field goal to make the score 26 -21. When the fourth quarter commence the Eagles were determined to not surrender the game and drove down the field leading to a field goal to make the score 26 -24. But, PVAM two stars took over: Quarterback Jalen Morton threw a 20 yard pass to Markcus Hardy for a touchdown and Dawonya Tucker took off for a 50 yard run for a touchdown. To complete the fourth quarter and end the game, the Panthers relied on Tucker running the ball for first down yardage.
Panthers’ quarterback Jalen Morton was named the game’s MVP after completing 19 of 35 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. His opposing quarterback Chauncey Caldwell competed 24 of 42 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, but had one interception. But,Prairie View’s Dawonya Tucker was the difference maker as he rushed for a career high 267 yards and one touchdown.
Eagles’ new head coach, Granville Eastman said, “We played some young men that grew up today.” “Our guys demonstrated a fighting spirits. that is somehting we will feed off of going forward…”
Photos: Ben Ennis