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Shinnick, Braves release 2011 schedule
By Nick Phillips
The third installment of the Two Rivers Classic, six home games inside Grace P. Johnson Stadium and an all- Division II foe schedule for the first time all highlight the 2011 edition of UNCP Braves football this fall.
Seven of the Braves' 10 opponents finished last season with a winning record, with four teams tallying seven or more wins.
Included in the six home contests are regional rival Wingate, a homecoming tilt against Tusculum and a November rematch against Winston-Salem State.
"We are very excited about having six home games," said UNCP head coach Pete Shinnick.
"Our fans do a great job of supporting us and those six opportunities that we have to play in front of our home crowd are going to be a lot of fun. I don't think the overall strength of schedule will be questioned. We have our work cut out for us because there are some great opponents on the schedule, but we are looking forward to the challenge," Shinnick continued.
The Braves open the season at Fayetteville State in the third edition of the Two Rivers Classic on Sept. 3. UNCP took the series' first game, 41-34 in double overtime in Fayetteville, as well as a 39-0 shutout last fall inside Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
Following the Fayetteville State game, the Braves will stay inside the friendly confines of home throughout the rest of September – with Chowan, Wingate and Glenville State coming calling.
Chowan pulls into town for the Braves' only home night game on Sept. 10 for a 6 p.m. kickoff. Chowan finished 2010 with a 3-7 record, but all three victories came consecutively.
The only prior meeting between the two schools was during the Braves' inaugural 2007 season – a 26- 20 UNCP victory.
UNCP welcomes regional foe Wingate back to Grace P. Johnson Stadium on Sep. 17 for a 2 p.m. start. Wingate bested the Braves in Wingate 28-23 last season, but UNCP took the last meeting between the two schools in Pembroke – a 24- 13 win in 2009.
Wingate is coming off of a season in which they finished with a 9-3 record and a second round of the NCAA Division II playoff appearance.
The Braves round out their longest home stand of 2011 when they host Glenville State on Sept. 24. The visitors will be coming off a 2010 season in which they went 5-6 overall, including a 28-14 defeat by UNCP last fall.
The Black and Gold finally hit the road again on Oct. 1, when they make the trip to Salisbury, N.C. to take on Catawba College. Catawba finished 2010 with a 6-4 record and the nation's 31st-ranked passing offense. The matchup will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools in football.
UNCP returns to Grace P. Johnson Stadium on Oct. 8 as they host Tusculum on Homecoming weekend. Another first-time meeting between the two schools, Tusculum finished 2010 with a 6-5 record and lost all five defeats by seven or less points. Tusculum also possessed the nation's No. 1 ranked passing attack in 2010.
After an open weekend, the Braves head out on the road again Oct. 22, traveling to face off against Carson- Newman.
The two teams have split the two games in the series, with each winning on their own home field, including UNCP's 30-7 win last fall. Carson-Newman finished 2010 with the nation's second best rushing attack and return two of their top rushers from a year ago.
The Braves final road trip of 2011 will come on Oct. 29 when the Black and Gold travel to Newberry College. Heading into the first-ever meeting between the schools, Newberry posted a 4-6 record in 2010 but boasted the nation's 20th-best passing offense and the 23rd-ranked scoring offense.
UNCP closes the regular season with two games at home, beginning with a matchup against Winston- Salem State on Nov. 5. WSSU finished with an 8-2 record in 2010 and were ranked 12th nationally in passing efficiency. The Braves had three turnovers in WSSU's 21-7 win in the two team's first meeting last fall.
The 2011 regular season comes to a close on Nov. 12 when the Braves welcome in West Liberty. Coming off a 7-3 season, West Liberty led the country in total offense and scoring offense. It will be the first meeting between UNCP and West Liberty.