The North Carolina A&T Aggies extended their run of postseason success Saturday with a 64-44 victory over the Alcorn State Braves in the 2019 Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
N.C. A&T has now won the Celebration Bowl four times in the past five years, including three consecutive triumphs in the game featuring top teams from the FCS' MEAC and SWAC. The Aggies have defeated the Braves to take home the title in 2015, 2018 and now 2019.
Alcorn State overcame a sluggish 1-2 start to the season by winning eight of its next nine games, including a win over the Southern Jaguars in the SWAC Championship Game, to earn a berth in the Celebration Bowl.
Notable Game Stats
QB Kylil Carter (A&T): 18-of-30 passing, 364 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT; 96 rushing yards
QB Felix Harper (ASU): 25-of-42 passing, 341 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 2 rushing TD
RB Jah-Maine Martin (A&T): 110 rushing yards, 2 TD
RB De'Shawn Waller (ASU): 59 rushing yards, 1 TD
WR Korey Banks (A&T): 122 receiving yards, 2 TD
WR Elijah Bell (A&T): 73 receiving yards, 2 TD
WR Zachary Leslie (A&T): 81 receiving yards, 1 TD
WR Ron Hunt (A&T): 43 receiving yards, 1 TD
WR Chris Blair (ASU): 135 receiving yards, 1 TD
WR Raidarious Anderson (ASU): 85 receiving yards, 1 TD
TE Nigel Wood (ASU): 13 receiving yards, 1 TD
Big Plays, Atmosphere Making Celebration Bowl An Annual Must-See Event
Bowl fatigue is real. There are 41 games played in just over three weeks, and it can be difficult for even the most diehard of college football fans to remain engaged all the way from Friday's Bahamas Bowl to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 13.
That's why it's important for each bowl to stand out from the crowd.
The Celebration Bowl has done that since its debut in 2015. Although it doesn't have the history of its counterparts and features FCS schools rather than FBS, the atmosphere created by fans is on par with any game outside of the CFP contests.
A battle of the bands at halftime added to that ambiance Saturday with the N.C. A&T band, which The Undefeated ranked as the No. 1 band from historically black colleges and universities this season, stealing the show with a terrific performance.
Meanwhile, the level of play remains high with top teams from a pair of FCS conferences. It's a better storyline than a couple of middling 6-6 squads from the FBS.
Each of the first four Celebration Bowl games were decided by a single score, and while the Aggies' margin of victory was a little bigger Saturday, there were still plenty of highlights for both sides.
The game featured 1,034 combined yards, 108 points and 45 first downs. There were seven touchdowns of at least 35 yards, including a 75-yard scoring dash by Jah-Maine Martin to open the third quarter for A&T.
Things really popped off in the third quarter, when the first seven drives of the second half went for touchdowns.
Perhaps the Celebration Bowl isn't for those fixated on low-scoring defensive battles, though the Grambling State Tigers did beat the North Carolina Central Eagles 10-9 in the 2016 edition of the game. But everything about the game, both on the field and off, screams fun.
And there's no doubt bowl season needs more of that.