With a season-opening win under its belt, West Virginia State looks to keep that momentum going today when the Yellow Jackets take to the road to play at North Carolina A&T of the Football Championship Subdivision.
State's 34-31 win last week against visiting Johnson C. Smith was just the Yellow Jackets' second dating back to the start of the 2010 season (the other coming against Seton Hill in 2011).
Following the win last Saturday, quarterback Ricky Phillips said he thinks the team believes it has the ability to be better than other State teams in recent years.
"We got beat by a lot of teams last year," Phillips said. "We had a lot of close games last year. We want it to be different this season and I think the guys believe and they're buying in to it. It's a different attitude right now, there's a different aura about these guys."
Phillips went 13-of-24 for 229 with two touchdown passes last week and is facing an Aggies defense that allowed 274 passing yards (with two interceptions) in a 29-13 win against Coastal Carolina.
Yellow Jackets' coach Earl Monroe said North Carolina A&T represents a challenge for a State team looking to improve and make its mark in 2012.
"It's a measuring stick," Monroe said. "We're always optimistic, going in, of the ability of the guys we recruited and the coaches' ability. Now they will buy into what we're doing. It's a whole lot easier to coach when you win."
State running back Aubra Taylor ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns while receiver Josh Johnson led the Yellow Jackets with six catches for 98 yards.
After last week's win, Monroe said the game against the Aggies and the game next week at Elon will provide his staff with the chance to see more from the players that did not see much, if any, playing time in the opening game.
"We've got two big games against I-AA [FCS] teams, and we're going to try and play more people, get more guys in," he said. "Some guys didn't play this week [because] we needed to win this football game, so we probably didn't sub as much as we will the next couple of weeks. We want to try to get some guys some experience going into the conference. So hopefully this will catapult us into getting ready to go to the conference, a measuring stick that we are getting better."
North Carolina A&T used a committee approach to run the ball in its first game. Three players - Kwashaun Quick (14 carries for 57 yards), Dominique Drake (13 carries for 49 yards) and Mike Mayhew (11 carries for 24 yards) - each had more than 10 carries.
Quick, the Aggies' quarterback, went 11 for 23 for 155 yards and a touchdown through the air but also threw three interceptions. State's defense forced two turnovers a week ago (one fumble and one interception).
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, N.C.
Five other games highlight the rest of the West Virginia Conference schedule today.
Defending WVC champion Concord hosts No. 8 Winston-Salem State at 1 p.m. Mountain Lions' quarterback Zack Grossi went 24 of 41 passing for 238 yards and a touchdown in a win against Lenoir-Rhyne.
Also starting at 1 p.m., West Liberty travels to play at Virginia State.
Three games kick off at noon with Seton Hill at Urbana, American International at Shepherd and Bentley at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Wesleyan quarterback Nate Montana, son of San Francisco 49ers legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana, threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-17 loss at Millersville last week.
Reach Tom Bragg at email@example.com