ATLANTA — Lamar Raynard scored on a 1-yard sneak with 38 seconds left and unbeaten North Carolina A&T won its second Celebration Bowl in three years, defeating Grambling State 21-14 on Saturday.
N.C. A&T (12-0) won its fourth Historically Black College and University national championship. The Aggies claimed titles in 1990 and 1999 in addition to 2015, when they defeated Alcorn State 41-34 in the first Celebration Bowl.
Raynard, one of four finalists for the Black College Hall of Fame player of the year, completed 23 of 43 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown and had 17 yards on eight carries.
The junior quarterback drove the Aggies 56 yards in seven plays for the winning touchdown, shaking off nearly throwing his third interception. Grambling (11-2) challenged, but the pass was ruled incomplete.
Grambling was trying for a second straight HBCU national title as the Tigers edged North Carolina Central 10-9 last year.
Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade, also a finalist for player of the year, completed 19 of 36 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns while also scrambling for 93 yards on the ground.
Franklin McCain III ended a Grambling drive following the second-half kickoff with an interception at the goal line and N.C. A&T marched down the field to go ahead 14-7 on Marquell Cartwright‘s 30-yard run.
Grambling tied it early in the fourth quarter as Martez Carter teamed with Kincade on a 29-yard TD pass to cap an 80-yard drive.
N.C. A&T’s Lyndemian Brooks recovered a fumble at the Grambling 8 in the fourth quarter, but the Aggies came up empty when Cartwright tried to punch it in from a yard out on fourth down and was stopped by defensive end Brandon Varner.
Grambling went six plays on its final drive of the game but Kincade’s pass over the middle was incomplete as time expired.
N.C. A&T: The Aggies became the first MEAC team to go undefeated for an entire season as they continued their run of success under coach Rod Broadway. N.C. A&T is 40-8 with two HBCU national titles in four seasons under Broadway.
Grambling State: The Tigers are back despite failing in their bid for consecutive HBCU national title. Grambling is 38-11 in four seasons under head coach Broderick Fobbs, a former Tigers captain who was hired after the team went 2-21 over two years amid player turmoil.
Both head coaches have a deep connection with the other team. A&T’s Broadway spent four years at Grambling, leading the Tigers to the 2008 HBCU national championship. Grambling running backs coach Lee Fobbs, the father of coach Broderick Fobbs, was A&T’s head coach from 2006-08.