Daily Press (Sunday)

Florida A&M escapes with a Celebratio­n Bowl victory


Jeremy Moussa overcame a frustratin­g first half to throw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including two to Kelvin Dean Jr., powering Florida A&M’s comeback past Howard 30-26 Saturday in the Celebratio­n Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Florida A&M (12-1), ranked 10th in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 after its 10-1 regular season, closed with 11 consecutiv­e wins. Moussa connected with Dean on scoring passes of 21 and 53 yards as the Rattlers recovered after trailing 14-0 in the first quarter and 16-10 to open the fourth.

Carson Hinton’s 26-yard picksix gave Howard (6-6) a 26-24 lead.

The Rattlers answered with a 38-yard, flea-flicker touchdown pass from Moussa to Jah-Marae Sheread to reclaim the advantage. Moussa handed the ball to running back Terrell Jennings, who pitched the ball back to the quarterbac­k for the decisive touchdown.

Linebacker Isaiah Major’s intercepti­on, the third thrown by Howard quarterbac­k Quinton Williams, with 1:45 remaining clinched the win for Florida A&M.

Jarrett Hunter and Kasey Hawthorne ran for touchdowns for the Bison, whose team includes MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Kenny Gallop Jr., a Churchland High graduate.

The Rattlers, former MEAC members coming off their first Southweste­rn Athletic Conference championsh­ip, gave their new league only its second win over the Mid-Eastern Athletic

Conference in eight Celebratio­n Bowls. The game is considered by many to be the national championsh­ip game among Historical­ly Black Colleges and Universiti­es (HBCUs).

Late Friday

Cortland 38, North Central 37:

Zac Boyes threw for 349 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards, Cortland stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 90 seconds remaining, and the Red Dragons beat defending champion North Central at Salem City Stadium for their first NCAA Division III championsh­ip.

Cortland (14-1), who routed previously unbeaten Randolph-Macon in Ashland on Dec. 9 and were playing in the Stagg Bowl for the first time in program history, handed North Central (14-1) its first loss since the 2021 championsh­ip game. The Cardinals, in their fourth straight title game, won the 2019 national title in addition to last year’s.

South Dakota State 59, Albany 0:

Mark Gronowski threw for three touchdowns, Isaiah Davis ran for two and Tucker Large returned a punt for a score — all in the first half — as defending national champion South Dakota State (14-0) rolled back into the FCS championsh­ip game with a rout in Brookings, South Dakota, over the final Coastal Athletic Associatio­n team left in the playoffs.

Top-seeded South Dakota State, on a 28-game winning streak, will play for the championsh­ip on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas, against Saturday’s North Dakota State-Montana winner.

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