Though few may know, N.C. Central’s trajectory this season is nearly identical to Duke’s. Entering the season, second-year head coach Henry Frazier was poised to lead the Eagles, who have improved from their 2-9 record in 2011. N.C. Central blew by Fayetteville State 54-31 in its season-opener. But in the Eagles’ second contest, the team relapsed with a 34-14 road loss to Elon, leaving them with a number of questions.
As N.C. Central faces the Blue Devils in this weekend’s Bull City Classic, the Eagles hope that their resounding defeat in week two was a fluke.
Quarterback Matt Goggans, a junior, took the reins for N.C. Central in his first year of eligibility since transferring from Fullerton College. In N.C. Central’s season-opening victory, Goggans completed 56.7 percent of his passes, but struggled in the Eagles’ loss to Elon. Goggans was removed from the game in favor of backup quarterback Jordan Reid after completing just 1-of-12 passes for 10 yards and being intercepted twice. Despite this disastrous performance, Frazier has made no indication that Goggans will not start this weekend.
“Our passing game was not on point at all,” Frazier said. “We had four turnovers and our passing game did not do a very good job at all in terms of our reads and in terms of our progressions.”
Regardless of who the Eagles’ quarterback is, Frazier will look for wide receiver Geovanie Irvine to make big plays down the field. Irvine, a Durham local from Hillside High School, is N.C. Central’s leading receiver and has caught eight passes this year for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The senior will see some familiar faces, as Duke has three Hillside products on its roster, including senior wide receiver Desmond Scott. At just 5-foot-7, Irvine’s biggest weapon is his speed.
“He’s definitely our go-to guy,” Frazier said. “He has the type of skills where if you get the ball up to him, he’ll make a play for you.”
On the defense, the Eagles have improved at stopping the run this season after allowing more than 180 yards per game on the ground in 2011. N.C. Central’s defensive front has received a strong effort from senior Stephen Young, who recorded 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Eagles’ first two contests.
Entering this weekend’s game as underdogs, Frazier understands that an FCS team defeating an FBS opponent is not beyond reach—it has happened three times since 2006 with Duke’s three home losses to Richmond.
“If you execute plays, move the chains and stop other teams you give your team a chance to win. That approach doesn’t change regardless of the opponent,” Frazier said. “If we go out and execute and make a play here and there, you never know what can happen.”