Moments after North Carolina Central claimed victory over rival North Carolina A&T, the Eagle players decided on a celebration that would lead to a bench-clearing, helmet-swinging brawl.
The fight so enraged A&T athletics director DeLores “Dee” Todd that she said the two schools likely would take a “cooling-off period” from continuing the series.
“I’m disgusted. It’s very disgusting,” Todd told The News & Observer of Raleigh after seeing the Eagles players jump on the Aggies’ midfield logo. “It’s a game, why do that?”
The fight lasted several minutes and left dozens of players lying on the field. Police from both schools ran in after several minutes and broke up the fight using pepper spray. An NCCU player lay on the ground outside of the locker room vomiting after the fight as trainers worked feverishly to wash out his eyes.
In the emotion of the game-saving interception by Eagles linebacker Eric Ray (whose twin brother Derrick scored earlier on an interception return), the NCCU players stormed the field and began jumping on the logo.
After the game, Todd demanded her coaches sequester the Aggies in the locker room until the Eagles had departed.
NCCU athletics director Bill Hayes, who has steered the school to Division I from the Division II CIAA, was A&T’s football coach for 15 years.
After the game, Hayes said he didn’t see the fight, which he said occurred as he was making his way to the field from the stands. Hayes declined comment on any disciplinary action.
Later, standing in the end zone as the stands cleared, a visibly angry Todd, along with police and security, spoke with Hayes. As Todd walked away with security in tow, Hayes stood on the field with his head down.
Todd said that before the 2005 game in Raleigh, A&T coaches kept their players in the locker room because there was a history of unsportsmanlike behavior between the teams.
But A&T alum Judy Sessions also blamed the Aggies. Sitting in the stands during the fight, Sessions looked on in horror.
“I’m disgusted, why do they have to act like that,” she said. “This is just terrible.”
The game was billed as the return of a rivalry that dates back to 1924. It was the teams’ first meeting since NCCU beat A&T 23-22 in the 2005 Aggie-Eagle Classic. It also was the first time the two historically black colleges met as opponents in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA. N.C. Central moved up to the classification from Division II.
A&T has the nation’s longest losing streak, now 20 games. After performing poorly for much for the game, A&T had a late drive end on an interception in the end zone with 14 seconds left.
Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com