The Wildcats know exactly what they need to do over the final three games.
DAYTONA BEACH — It was a roller-coaster of a bye week for the Bethune-Cookman football team.
The Wildcats (6-2, 4-1) went into the bye having not only lost on homecoming for the first time in a decade, but also dropping to second place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Nearly two weeks later, the ‘Cats are back in control of their own destiny.
Thanks to South Carolina State’s loss last weekend (and Florida A&M’s postseason ineligibility), B-CU finds itself in a tie with North Carolina A&T atop the MEAC with three games left. Better yet, the Wildcats will get their shot at the Aggies next week in Greensboro in a game that could decide who goes to next month’s Celebration Bowl.
To make that game count, however, B-CU can’t overlook Saturday’s trip to 1-8 Delaware State.
“We have three games left, and if all three go well then things go well for us,” head coach Terry Sims said. “But we can’t look at North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M, because then you take your focus off Delaware State. We want every guy on this team locked in and focused on Delaware State, and then we’ll take those things as they come.”
Behind enemy lines
The Wildcats and Hornets last played in 2016, with B-CU cruising to a 41-10 homecoming rout for its sixth straight win in the series. Of those six wins, only one — a 9-7 win in 2009 — was decided by less than two touchdowns.
The Hornets rank sixth in the conference in rushing, averaging over 127 yards per game. Running back Bryant Dallas leads the team with 428 yards and four touchdowns, while Richard Harris has added over 350 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman QB Tylik Bethea is completing just 47 percent of his passes and has thrown nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. In last week’s 52-30 loss to Florida A&M, Bethea threw for just 106 yards and was intercepted twice, while redshirt freshman RB Thomas Hudon-Bertrand ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Hornets rank fifth in the MEAC (363 yards per game) and have been particularly good against the pass, holding opposing quarterbacks to just 211 yards per game. Delaware State has just 11 sacks compared to B-CU’s 28, and has a minus-6 turnover margin.
Matchup to watch
Not a matchup, but a quarter.
The Hornets have actually outscored opponents, 55-48, in the first quarter this season. They’ve given up a staggering 123 second quarter points, though.
Can the Wildcats make the right adjustments on Saturday?
This definitely falls into the “trap game” category with North Carolina A&T looming, but the Wildcats use the week off to make sure they don’t get caught.
Final: B-CU 35, Delaware State 20