North Carolina A&T’s Cohen almost hits 300

North Carolina A&T star running back Tarik Cohen reintroduced himself to the nation Saturday afternoon with an electric performance in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome.

Cohen, the two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for 295 yards and three long touchdowns in the Aggies’ 41-34 win over Alcorn State. The only thing that slowed him was a light breakfast.

Cohen, the game’s MVP, gained 166 yards in the first quarter, with touchdown runs of 83 and 74 yards, before needing a break.

“All I had was just a couple glasses of orange juice in the morning,” Cohen said. “I guess I was hungry for a national championship.”

He earned exactly that. The Celebration Bowl matched North Carolina A&T, champion of the MEAC, against Alcorn State, champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, in a game framed as the national championship for historically black colleges and universities.

Cohen drew national attention over the summer when a video of him catching a football while doing a backflip went viral and landed him on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

The 5-foot-6, 173-pound junior added to his highlight reel Saturday, with what he called the best performance of his career.

“It was the biggest game I’ve ever been in,” Cohen noted. “So, yeah, it was my best performance.”

Cohen capped the Aggies’ victory with a pair of big plays in the fourth quarter. With the score tied 27-27, he emerged from a crowd of would-be tacklers on a screen pass to race 52 yards that set up go-ahead touchdown run by Kwashaun Quick with 10 minutes to play. Then, after Alcorn State tied the score with five minutes to play, Cohen burst through the gut of the Braves’ defense and raced 73 yards for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.