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ATLANTA, Ga. – The Grambling State University football team will seek its second consecutive HBCU National Championship as the Tigers take on North Carolina A&T State University on Saturday in the 2017 Celebration Bowl. Kickoff from the newly Mercedes-Benz Stadium is set for 12:06 p.m. (ET)/11:06 a.m. (CT).
The game will be broadcasted live on ABC (Mark Neely, Jay Walker and Tiffany Greene). Grambling State will broadcast the game on the Grambling State Sports Radio Network. The game can be heard in Ruston (KPCH 99.3 FM) and in Monroe (KJMG 97.3 FM). The Tigers’ broadcast crew of Santoria Black, Wilshawn Jones, Leon Thomas and Nick Harrison will call.
“North Carolina A&T is a very good team and well-coached,” Tigers head coach Broderick Fobbs said during Monday’s press conference. “We were able to take some time over the last week to rest of some players and get healthy for this last game. This is the game we’ve wanted to be in from the start of the season and our players are excited to be headed back to Atlanta with a chance to win a national championship.”
Grambling State (11-1) enters Saturday’s game on an 11-game winning streak after capturing its second consecutive and 26th Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship over Alcorn State on Dec. 2. Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T State (11-0) went through Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) play unbeaten and last played a game on Nov. 18 as the Aggies defeated rival North Carolina Central, 24-10.
The game will feature two of best quarterbacks in the country in Devante Kincade (Grambling State) and Lamar Raynard (North Carolina A&T State). Both were named Offensive Player of the Year by their respective conferences. Kincade boasts a 22-2 record (Arizona and Tulane) in two years, while Raynard has yet to lose a game as a starter, with a 25-0 mark.
What to Watch For
* Grambling State is seeking its second consecutive Celebration Bowl championship. The Tigers defeated North Carolina Central, 10-9, in last year’s bowl game.
* North Carolina A&T State is also looking to capture its second consecutive Celebration Bowl title. The Aggies missed last year’s game, but won the inaugural game, defeating Alcorn State, 41-34, in 2015.
Grambling State-North Carolina A&T State Connections
* Grambling State leads the series, 4-3.
* North Carolina A&T State won the last matchup, 17-12, in 1996.
* Tigers’ head coach Broderick Fobbs will be facing North Carolina A&T State for the first time as he is 1-1 against teams from the MEAC (W-North Carolina Central; L-Bethune-Cookman).
* Separated by 866 miles, this will be the eighth meeting between the two schools.
* North Carolina A&T State head coach Rod Broadway coached at Grambling State from 2007-2010 and led the Tigers to the SWAC Championship and a Black College Football National Championship in 2008.
Alabama A&M University • Alabama State University • Alcorn State University • Grambling State University • Jackson State University Mississippi Valley State University • Prairie View A&M University • Southern University • Texas Southern University • University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff
* Current Grambling State assistant coach Lee Fobbs also was a head coach at North Carolina A&T State from 2006-2008.
* Grambling State enters the game ranked No. 12 in the FCS Coaches Top 25 Poll and No. 13 in the STATS FCS Top 25 Poll.
*For the first time this season, the Tigers will face a ranked opponent as North Carolina A&T State comes into the contest ranked No. 7 in both polls.
* The Tigers also remained in the top spot in the SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll and in the Urban Media Today Black College Football Poll.
* The Aggies currently sit second in the SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll and in the Urban Media Today Black College Football Poll.
*In the BOXTOROW Coaches and Media Poll, North Carolina A&T State is ranked in the top spot, with Grambling State at No. 2.
Inside the Numbers
* De’Aumante Johnson leads the SWAC in interceptions per game.
* Kicker Marc Orozco is ranked first in the conference (second nationally) in field goals per game, field goal percentage (11th nationally) and scoring (10th nationally).
* Martez Carter is ranked third in the SWAC in rushing yards and fourth in all-purpose yards.
* Devante Kincade leads the conference in seven categories: passing efficiency, passing touchdowns, passing yards, passing yards/game, yards/pass attempt, points responsible for, points responsible for a game and was ranked second in passing yards/completion and total offense.
* De’Andre Hogues and Brandon Varner are ranked No. 2 in the SWAC in fumbles recovered.
* La’Allan Clark holds the number one spot in the conference in forced fumbles and ranks third in sacks.
* Ja’Terious Pouncy is ranked second in the SWAC in blocked kicks.
Awards and Accolades
* Devante Kincade and De’Andre Hogues earned the Offensive and Defensive MVP honors at the SWAC Championship.
* Defensive back Percy Cargo, Jr. was selected a Finalist for the 2017 STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar- Athlete Award. The Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award is named after the wife of legendary Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson, the third annual award is presented to an FCS student-athlete who excels not only in the classroom, but in the community and beyond.
About the Celebration Bowl
* The Celebration Bowl is a postseason college football bowl game that began play in the 2015 season.
* The game is contested between the champions of the MEAC and the SWAC — the two prominent conferences of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in NCAA Division I and is a successor to two previous bowl games between the MEAC and SWAC, the Pelican Bowl and Heritage Bowl.
* The first game was played on Dec.19, 2015 between North Carolina A&T State and Alcorn State. The Aggies defeated the Braves 41-34.
* The Celebration Bowl officially kicks off bowl season.
* The game is featured and can be watched live on ABC.
* The 2017 Celebration Bowl will be the first bowl game played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
* In 2018, Atlanta will both open and close the bowl game season with Celebration Bowl and the College Football National Championship Playoff.