ATLANTA — Two members of Scotland’s 2011 football state championship team are once again set to make history on the gridiron.
Tony McRae and Kwashaun Quick, both of whom are seniors at North Carolina A&T, will take the field today in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Aggies will battle Alcorn State in a matchup that will be aired nationally on ABC at noon.
Both FCS programs, which are known as historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), are the first to compete in the Celebration Bowl. The game, which has earned the moniker as the “black national championship,” pits the champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
A&T was 9-2 overall this season and finished in a three-way tie for first place in the MEAC while Alcorn State compiled a 9-3 mark and won the SWAC. The Braves secured its berth after defeating Grambling State in the SWAC title game on Dec. 5.
McRae and Quick are no strangers to big-game atmospheres — the pair led Scotland to a 15-0 record four years ago in a season that culminated with the Scots’ only 4A state title.
McRae, now a starting defensive back and designated kick returner for the Aggies, thrived in the offensive backfield for the Scots during their championship run. He eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season and tallied 75 yards and two touchdowns in Scotland’s 42-16 victory over Porter Ridge in the title game. McRae’s stellar play earned him a spot on the all-Southeastern Conference squad.
McRae moved to the other side of the ball when he joined A&T and after two seasons became a full-time starter. He recorded 62 tackles, five interceptions and 16 passes defended as a junior. This year, McRae leads the team with 47 tackles, three interceptions and seven passes defended. The 5-9, 178-pounder has notched four kickoff returns for touchdowns during his career, including a 90-yard score in the Aggies’ loss to N.C. Central in late November.
Quick has endured a rollar coaster career at A&T, but he, too, will forever be celebrated in Scotland lore. He was the engine that churned the Scots’ offense on his way to winning the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year award his senior season. Quick threw for 2,533 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 1,174 yards and eight more scores. The 6-1, 185-pounder overcame a rough start in the tilt against Porter Ridge to pass for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
At A&T, Quick started five games his first two seasons before taking over the full-time quarterback job as a junior. A month-long knee injury served as a setback to what was otherwise a promising campaign, as Quick started nine of the 11 games he appeared in. The Aggies finished 8-2 in 2014 with Quick as the primary signal caller and earned a share of the MEAC title, the program’s first since 2003. Quick completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,418 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for 610 yards and six scores.
Entering his senior season, Quick was arrested on drug charges in March and was kicked off the team before spring practice. He returned to the squad before the start of the season but has amassed modest numbers since his breakout junior campaign. Quick has appeared in nine games, throwing for 512 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions to go along with 315 rushing yards and four scores.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.