|Fifty-yarder leads A&T to thrilling win|
|Published Sunday, September 1, 2019|
GREENSBORO – The biggest scare for North Carolina A&T coach Sam Washington was not junior Noel Ruiz’s game-winning 52-yard field goal as time expired. Despite Ruiz missing two prior field goals in the game, Washington had seen him hit 50 yarders plenty of times in practice. The scariest part for Washington was the play that happened before the field goal attempt. The 19th-ranked Aggies nearly ran the clock out on the previous play which would have sent the game into overtime.
Instead, a play that started with 9 seconds remaining in the game and included graduate quarterback Kylil Carter scramble around the field before tossing a pass downfield that Korey Banks caught out of bounds, left 1 second on the clock. There was enough time for Ruiz to boot the game-winner despite missing from 43 and 40 yards earlier in the game.
“It was not even a thought. It really wasn’t,” said Washington after being asked if he thought about not allowing Ruiz to attempt the field goal. “We didn’t even have a conversation about it. The key was not letting the clock run out. I thought that would have been the dumbest thing that could have happened.”
Washington said he did not even watch the play that ended with Banks landing out of bounds because he was too busy to see if the clock was going to tick down to zero. Ruiz’s 52-yard field goal tied a school record first set by Yonnick Mathews on Sept. 27, 2003, at Elon. It was the Aggies first 50-yard field goal since Carlos Davalos hit one in Raleigh to beat North Carolina Central in 2004. Ruiz also has the Aggies first game-winning field goal since Davalos’ kick against NCCU.
“I really didn’t adjust anything,” Ruiz said about his final kick. “I still trusted everything. I knew I had it in me. My teammates really helped me out big time, but I didn’t change a thing.”
All three of Ruiz’s attempts had plenty of leg, and they all occurred in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 21. His first missed kick went wide left and left the game tied with 10:07 remaining. The second miss also went left, leaving 2:35 on the clock.
Elon took over at its own 23-yard line and sophomore defensive end Jermaine McDaniel earned his third sack of the game by dropping Elon quarterback Davis Cheek for a 12-yard loss. After an incompletion and a 1-yard run, the Phoenix were forced to punt. Stephenson boomed a 52-yarder that Banks returned for 20 yards, setting the Aggies up 1st-and-10 at the Elon 38 with 25 seconds remaining.
On the first play of the drive, Carter ran 4 yards, leading to the Aggies quickly having to spike the ball to stop the clock. The Aggies then decided to run another play that Washington said scared the “dickens” out of him. Once the scare was over, it was game-winning time.
“This guy and I go way back,” Washington said referring to Ruiz. “We practice together every day. Not somedays, but we practice together every day. I’ve been saying he is the most improved player on this team. He came into that situation with so much confidence.”
Ruiz was not the only Aggie making history Saturday night. Senior wide receiver Elijah Bell became the Aggies all-time leader in touchdown receptions with a remarkable one-handed grab in the back of the end zone from 5 yards out. It was the 26th TD reception of his career, passing Denzel Keyes. Bell also had nine receptions for 93 yards, pushing him closer to becoming the Aggies all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
In only the second start of his career, Carter was 16-for-27 for 193 yards and two TD passes with no interceptions. Linebacker Kyin Howard led the Aggies defensively with 10 tackles.
The Aggies take on the Duke Blue Devils September 7, 6 p.m., at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham. A&T has defeated an FBS opponent three straight seasons. The team is 0-2 against ACC schools.
Bulldogs shock No. 8/9 Wofford
ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Redshirt junior Tyrece Nick threw for 201 yards and a touchdown to lead South Carolina State to an 28-13 upset victory over nationally-ranked Wofford.
SCSU posted its first victory over Wofford since 1976, when the Bulldogs knocked off the Terriers 14-6 in Orangeburg. "This was a big win for our program beating a team like Wofford," coach Buddy Pough said. "Our defense played well, and it gave us a chance throughout the game."
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Shaquan Davis had a breakout day catching the football with five catches for 91 yards, while senior De'Montrez Burroughs led the way with four catches for 102 yards and a TD.
The Bulldog defense was on point, forcing four interceptions, along with redshirt freshman linebacker BJ Davis spearheading the way with eight tackles, four tackles for loss for 17 yards and an interception.
South Carolina State hosts Division II Lane College September 7 at 4 p.m. Visit www.scsuathletics.com.
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