The MEAC is buzzing about Delaware State

Hampton is the class of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Pirates (2-0) are one of the best I-AA teams in the nation. But don't look now, there's a new team on the rise in the MEAC. It's Delaware State. The Hornets (2-0) are playing some outstanding football right now.

Two weeks ago, Delaware State opened the season with a big 34-14 win over Florida A&M in the fourth annual Detroit Football Classic. In that game, Hornets' RB Emmanuel Marc ran for a career-high 134 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Delaware St. QB Vashon Winton completed 8-of-12 passes for 80 yards including one TD.

Wide receiver Shaheer McBride caught four passes to give him 100 at Delaware State. Linebacker Russell Reeves recorded 11 tackles and a TD on an interception return.

Then to make sure this was no fluke, Delaware State stomped visiting St. Francis (Pa.), 63-28 last week. This was the school's first-ever home night game at home. Needless to say they didn't disappoint their fans.

Delaware State racked up 562 yards of offense in the blow out. That was the most yards the Hornets had produced since 1986. Winton and McBride were offensive standouts again.

Winton completed 12-of-13 passes for 222 yards and four TDs, each scoring throw to McBride. The QB was named MEAC Player of the Week for his efforts. His completion percentage of .923 set a school record, and is tops among all Division I-AA quarterbacks for a game this season. McBride caught TD passes of 21, 46, 48 and 13 against St. Francis.

"Winton and McBride gave us exceptional performances," said Al Lavan, Hornets second-year head coach. "They have played extremely well, but it's just two games. The two young men have continued to improve. Vashon knows how to manage the game. He understands the system and continues to mature."

On the defensive side, Hornets CB Akeem Green blocked a punt that was returned 37 yards for a TD by Josh Pope. DL Tyron Hurst had 10 tackles.

Delaware State will travel to face Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. on Saturday. The Demons are still looking for their first win.

"They may be the best 0-2 team in the country," Lavan said. "They were soundly beaten by Kansas and Baylor. But they're very athletic. This will be a formidable challenge for our team."

Lavan, 59, has done an outstanding job with the Hornets' football program. He has more than 30 years of professional and college coaching experience. Last season, he led Delaware State to its first winning record since 2000. The team was 7-4 overall, and third in the MEAC at 6-2.

Lavan feels the Hornets' non-conference opponents will prepare them for conference play in two weeks.

"The schedule will really help us once we get into the MEAC," Lavan said. "It will give us a sense of where we are with our program. We'll be playing Hampton in our first [MEAC] game."

That should be a big test for them.

HBCU notes
• Whenever the team gets together around Bethune-Cookman head coach Alvin Wyatt, just two questions are asked: "Who are we?" and "What are we?" The answers are simple: "Show Stoppers" and "Dream Killers." The Wildcats pride themselves on this motto.

Brent Wilson, son of Texas Southern head coach Steve Wilson, is quietly having a good season. In two games, Wilson has rushed for 179 yards on 49 carries. And TSU is 2-0 this season.

• Two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Justin Durant picked up Defensive Player of the Week honors. Durant had team-high 10 tackles, seven of which were solo stops to help Hampton crush Howard, 46-7.

• Morgan State (0-2) is hoping to get its first victory of he season. The Bears will host Division II Bowie State (2-0) from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

• Martell Mallet, Arkansas-Pine Bluff sophomore running back, was named SWAC Offensive Player of the Week. Mallet had 30 carries for 229 yards and three TDs as the Golden Lions defeated Alcorn State, 42-14.

• Southern U. sophomore LB Jonathan Malveaux was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Malveaux had 11 tackles (seven solo) along with one tackle for loss and one sack as Southern popped Mississippi Valley State, 31-14.

• Grambling State (0-2) have lost its first two games in overtime to Hampton and Alabama A&M respectively.

• Shaheer McBride, Delaware State wide receiver, has moved ahead of former Hornet John Taylor, who played for the San Francisco 49ers, as the all-time leader in receptions. McBride has 109 receptions. He ranks fourth in team history with 1,826 yards.

• Jeremy Licea, Alabama A&M's freshman placekicker, went 3-for-4 in PATs and nailed his first career field goal (20 yards) as the No. 25 Bulldogs topped Grambling State, 30-27, in overtime.

Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune.