Thursday, September 2, 2010

Noble, Spartans open on ESPN3 tonight

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The 70th season of Norfolk State football kicks off tonight as the Spartans will travel to face Division I FBS power Rutgers. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. from Rutgers Stadium, and the game will be carried on ESPN3 (formerly ESPN360).

The Spartans enter the 2010 season with 14 starters returning from last year’s 7-4 team, which gave the Spartans their second winning season in three years. Included among the 14 returning starters are seven All-MEAC performers from 2009.

Former Rocky Mount High School offensive lineman Kendall Noble (No. 78) will be one of those returning starters. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound redshirt junior is back after starting all 11 games last season at left tackle. Noble (RMHS Class of '07) has started NSU's last 22 games. He was a second-team All-MEAC selection last season.

Rutgers welcomes back 14 starters from last season’s 9-4 team which won its fourth straight bowl game. Despite losing two first-round NFL draft picks, the Scarlet Knights have high hopes for the 2010 season with six starters back on both sides of the ball as well as both kickers.

• TV: ESPN3.Com (Play-by-Play: Dave Popkin; Color: Drew Henson)
• Radio: NSU Sports Network, WNSB Hot 91.1 FM, WXTG 1490 AM The Game (Play-by-Play: Chris Park; Color: Ross Gordon)
• Audio Stream: Click here (or click “Live Audio” link under Inside Athletics tab)
• Live Stats:

• The teams have played once before, with the No. 13 ranked Scarlet Knights winning 59-0 on Sept. 15, 2007 at Rutgers Stadium.
• After a competitive first quarter, Rutgers scored 42 points in the second quarter to take a 45-0 lead into halftime. Rutgers scored once each in both the third and fourth quarters to wrap up the win.
• Despite the loss, head coach Pete Adrian pointed to the Rutgers game as a key in propelling the Spartans to an 8-3 finish - their first-ever winning record in Division I play - which included a runner-up finish in the MEAC.

• NSU was given the No. 25 preseason ranking in Lindy’s College Football Preview magazine, marking the first time NSU has achieved a preseason national ranking of any kind.
• NSU is 33-35-1 in season openers.
• The Spartans are 4-1 in season-openers under Pete Adrian.
• This marks the fi rst time since 1990 since NSU has not opened the year at home in the traditional Labor Day Classic against Virginia State. The LDC will resume in 2011.
• NSU is 3-6 all-time in ESPN-televised games, including a 1-1 mark on Thursday nights.
• This will be NSU’s third game against a Division I FBS opponent. The Spartans lost at Rutgers in 2007, and dropped a 38-3 decision at Kentucky in 2008.

Noble had a brother, Wayne Jr., who also started for the Gryphons (defensive back) and played his college ball at Winston-Salem State with current Ram and Gryphon alum Nazir Levine. There had been talk that Levine and Kendall Noble would reunite on the offensive line as Levine, a Shrine Bowl participant after his fine career at RMHS, considered transferring to NSU. But Levine decided to finish out his career at WSSU.

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