The 2023 CIAA Conference Championship brought a thrilling game between the Fayetteville State University Broncos and the Virginia Union University Panthers. Despite both teams putting on a spectacular performance, Virginia Union came out on top and were declared the champions of the conference.
The opening half of the championship game met expectations, as both sides displayed impressive defensive skills. Virginia Union was the first to score, with Jada Byers and Christian Reid each scoring a touchdown and giving the Panthers a 14-0 advantage. However, Fayetteville State countered with a touchdown of their own just before halftime, narrowing the score to 14-7. The thrilling 91-yard kick return by Barry Elliot got the audience on their feet and set the stage for an exhilarating second half.
The third quarter began with Demari Daniels throwing a 64-yard pass to Kameron King, but the Broncos were unable to score a touchdown and settled for a 20-yard field goal by Jacob Meneses. The momentum shifted in Virginia Union’s favor after the Broncos fumbled a punt. The Panthers then scored a touchdown on a five-play, 27-yard drive led by Byers. In the fourth quarter, the Panthers’ defense continued to prevent the Broncos from scoring, and they forced a fumble that was recovered by Shemar Graham. Jada Byers had an impressive performance with 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Virginia Union. The final score was 21-10, with the Panthers taking the win. Byers was also named the 2023 Food Lion Most Valuable Player for Virginia Union.
Tonight’s victory marks the initial Championship Title for Dr. Alvin Parker, the Head Coach and recipient of the 2023 CIAA Coach of the Year award. It is also the first triumph for Virginia Union University since 2001. Both squads will now await invitations to compete in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. The selection show for Division II will be broadcasted live tomorrow at 6PM EST.