By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
BALTIMORE, MD. — Senior tight end Detwan Robinson hadn't caught a pass for North Carolina Central, let alone scored a touchdown before last week's stunning 40-10 MEAC win over South Carolina State.
But on Saturday, Robinson delivered maybe the biggest play of the season for the Eagles, catching a pass on a fourth and two play and breaking three tackles for a game-winning, 26-yard touchdown with 26 seconds remaining to lift NCCU to a 24-20 win at Morgan State.
"My thing is to play my role, to know my role and do it to the best of my ability," said Robinson.
Mostly utilized as a blocker in the Eagles' spread attack, Robinson snagged his first reception for a nine-yard touchdown last weekend and built off that performance Saturday against Morgan State with four catches for 48 yards — including that game-changing reception.
With the victory over the Bears in a matchup between previously unbeaten MEAC teams, NCCU moved to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in league as the Eagles start to buy into coach Henry Frazier's latest reclamation project.
Frazier, the 2009 Eddie Robinson Award winner as national coach of the year, shocked the Football Championship Subdivision world with his success at Prairie View — taking what was once the worst program in Division I football to four consecutive winning seasons from 2007-2010 and winning the SWAC title in 2009.
The school that had seven consecutive losing seasons in the 1990s and dropped a record 80 games in a row between 1989-1998. Frazier led the Panthers to a winning season for the first time since 1966.
Now he is is building confidence for an Eagles program that has just barely completed its transition from Division II to FCS and has endured four consecutive losing years.
"It's been fun," said the personable Frazier. "We're playing with house money right now."
North Carolina Central will get the chance to show off on national television on Thursday night when it hosts Hampton at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium before traveling to Bethune-Cookman for the potential showcase game of the MEAC season on Oct. 27 in Daytona Beach, FL.
An emotional and engaging personality to begin with, Frazier found himself in an even more high-strung state on Friday when his team worked out at his alma mater, Bowie State.
"Yesterday, we practiced at Bowie State," said Frazier. "I was pretty emotional."
He was even more emotional with the way his team pulled Saturday's game out of the fire.
When Morgan State (3-3, 2-1) used the running of Travis Davidson (18 carries, 105 yards, two TDs rushing) to set up Ervin Gonzales for a 34-yard field goal that broke a 17-17 deadlock with 9:05 remaining, NCCU had its back against the wall.
The Eagles second-to-last drive ended with MSU's Collin Bing partially blocked Oleg Parent's 46-yard field-goal attempt.
And NCCU was backed up even further when quarterback Jordan Reid (29-of-38, 266 yards passing, one TD and one interception) was sacked by Morgan State's Bakari Smith for an eight-yard loss on first down to the Eagles' 45 with just over two minutes to play.
But Robinson got that yardage back with a catch on the next play and a 13-yard strike on third and 10 from Reid to running back Arthur Goforth, who circled out of the backfield, found a gap and raced for the first down.
After another five-yard catch by Goforth and a pass to Robinson for three, the Eagles faced that fourth and two from the 26.
"We thought, with the coverage they were giving us, we could get the first down," said Frazier. "What we were not expecting was a touchdown."
So what was Frazier's reaction when he watched Robinson shake off two defenders and bowl over a third before crossing the goal line?
"Wow, that's pretty cool."
And after Robinson gave the Eagles the lead, the NCCU defense made sure it closed out the victory.
The Eagle defense took it to heart when it was pointed out that Morgan State had beaten NCCU 110-10 in the past two years.
"That was our motivation," said linebacker Ty Brown, who had nine tackles, eight solo stops, two sacks, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. "We were not going to lose a defensive game."
Now the key will be for the Eagles to keep focused on each week, instead of getting caught up with the fact they are tied for first place in the MEAC.
"We've got some momentum going," said Brown. "We've just got to take it one game at a time."
Frazier is just pleased that he has convinced his players to have the right work ethic.
"We are going to play for 60 minutes," said Frazier. "I don't know if we're going to win, or not, but we are going to play hard until the end."