by Mike Potter
PEARSON CAFETERIA/DURHAM N.C. Central has been a vastly improved football team through its first two games this season - except down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had a chance for a mild upset in their season opener on the road at Hampton before allowing the Pirates to score the winning points late in a 31-24 loss.
And on Saturday they were in position for a huge upset before allowing Liberty -then the No. 24 team in the FCS coaches' poll - to score 21 fourth-quarter points in a 35-10 loss.
So even though the Eagles appear to be much better in many aspects, there hasn't been much to show for it.
NCCU coach Mose Rison is aiming to change all that on Saturday when the Eagles take on Morehead State (1-1) for the first time.
Both teams are nicknamed the Eagles.
Not only is it going to be NCCU's home opener, but also the first game on the new Mondoturf at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium on which the Eagles practiced for the very first time today. NCCU has won three straight games at home.
"I think we're an improved football team," Rison said during his weekly press conference. "You can really see the difference in where we are now and where we were last year after two ball games and also after the season was over.
"Now we have to finish games. When this team makes its mind up to finish a game, we've got a chance to be a really good football team."
NCCU will finally get a chance to be a favorite - as it will be in all four of its home games - when the Eagles of the Pioneer Football Conference visit for a guarantee game NCCU will not return. Campbell and Davidson are also members of the PFC, the only Division I conference which awards no athletic-based financial aid in football.
MSU, coached by 16th-year mentor Matt Bullard (88-77), fell 31-0 on Saturday at St. Francis (Pa.)
"I told Coach Rison I don't even want the guys to know it's a game that some people say we're 'supposed' to win," said NCCU quarterback Michael Johnson (pictured). "I don't want them to know that from the media aspect. I just want everybody to stay on it and come up with the same intensity we had against Liberty.
"We have to be disciplined as a football team. We can't be looking at the rest of the season. This week we have to concentrate on Morehead State."