Homecoming 2008 launched several new traditions


Football wins 43-8

On Saturday, October 19, the University’s football team won its fifth straight game of the season and second Homecoming contest in the two-year history of the program.


Rashon Kennedy runs for daylight.

Rashon Kennedy runs for daylight.

A record crowd of 4,334 jammed into Grace P. Johnson Stadium to see the Braves run its record to 7-1 with a 43-8 thrashing of Edward Waters. In the University’s second year of football, there were many new traditions established during Homecoming weekend 2008.

The huge crowd staged its first-ever “Back-in-Black” with virtually the entire stadium in black attire or body paint.

The Class of 1958 became the first to hold its 50th reunion during a football game. A close-knit group, the class contributed $2,800 to the University’s growing Golden Scholarship Endowment Fund.

The Homecoming Parade, the largest ever, was staged on Saturday morning and ended at the Irwin Belk Athletic Complex with the Spirit of the Carolinas Marching Band lifting the spirits of a thousand or more tailgaters.

And in the first-ever Anything Goes Cook-off, Pam Sanders of Monroe, N.C., mother of football player Jake Sanders, won first place with her marinated Hawaiian chicken shish kabobs. Sanders presented the skewers to the judges in a plastic football.

In what is becoming a popular Homecoming tradition, The Commodores rocked a crowd of 1,500 in a Friday night blow-out concert.

All UNCP athletic teams were on display, including the Braves basketball team in its annual Black and Gold game with new coach Ben Miller at the helm.

On Friday, the nationally-ranked women’s soccer team defeated North Georgia 1-0 in an overtime thriller, and the men lost 2-1. The volleyball team lost 3-1 to Lander University at English E. Jones Athletic Center.

The athletic Homecoming 2008 motto was “Legends Never Die,” and baseball and soccer alumni and the reunion of the 1978 national champion cross country team solidified the theme. David Lewis of St. Pauls, N.C. did the cooking for the cross country legends.

“I got here at 8:30 this morning to start cooking,” Lewis said. “This is our 30th reunion, and I’m expecting a great turnout from the team.”


The Braves guaranteed their first winning season in modern football history last week, and the talk this week was about a bid to the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament. The win against Edward Waters avenged last season’s 31-28 loss.

 Mascots fire up the crowd before the start of the game

Mascots fire up the crowd before the start of the game

UNCP allowed the visiting Tigers just 75 yards in the first half and took a 30-0 lead into intermission.

The Braves got their fifth-straight victory in explosive style, racking up a record- breaking 488 yards of total offense, including 308 through the air. Edward Waters (2-5) managed just 124 yards on the day and were hampered by an ineffective running game that lost 26 yards on 26 carries in the game.

Five-foot six freshman sensation Jamal Williams hauled in eight passes for a school record 153 yards and a touchdown, while rushing twice for 23 yards and a touchdown.

Cory Smith threw for 169 yards on 11-of-16 passing and Rashon Kennedy inched closer to the 1,000 career rushing yard mark with 78 yards on 11 carries.

The Braves defense had 12 tackles for loss, including five sacks. Caylon Hann led the team with six tackles, including five solo stops and two tackles for loss. Morris McLaughlin had 1 1/2 sacks, and Adam Deese had three tackles and an interception.
“We are very excited to be 7-1 right now, and we are very excited to be 3-0 at home,” said head coach Pete Shinnick. “I thought that was as good a first half I have seen us play since we started this program.

 BACK-IN-BLACK – These students got into the spirit of the ‘Back-in-Black’ for fan Homecoming attire

BACK-IN-BLACK – These students got into the spirit of the ‘Back-in-Black ’ for fan Homecoming attire

“(Edward Waters) averaged six yards a carry against us last year and to hold them to minus 26 yards is outstanding for our defense,” Shinnick said. “We’re not done yet.”

UNCP scored on five of seven first-half possessions and needed less than three minutes to score on each one of them. The Braves drove six plays and 50 yards in two minutes and 57 seconds on the opening drive of the game. A six-yard pass from Smith to Keith Gorestarted the rout.

Jamal Williams scored the fourth touchdown of the half for the Braves with 81 seconds left to play, and Rangel Moore snagged two more points for the host when he blocked a punt attempt inside the 10 and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone.

Edward Waters drove 60 yards in 12 plays at the end of the third quarter and the first part of the fourth period to put its only points on the board, but the Braves answered with a seven-play, 71-yard drive on the ensuing possession to qualm any momentum and cap the scoring on the day.


Large gatherings of tailgaters flooded the parking lots with the smell of cooking ribs, chicken, hot dogs and barbecue. The resurgent PIKE alumni chapter was there for the second year with more than 100 participants and 15 potential pledges.

 PARADE – Chancellor Allen C. Meadors and wife, Barbara, lead the Homecoming Parade Saturday morning.

PARADE – Chancellor Allen C. Meadors and wife, Barbara, lead the Homecoming Parade Saturday morning.

“We’re excited about getting our charter back on campus,” said Gerry Domenick ’74, who was the first PIKE president in history. Domenick, who traveled from Penn- sylvania, toured campus on Friday with brothers Terry Reavis ‘ 73, who traveled from Florida, and Fulton Smith ’72 from Red Springs, N.C.

“We’re pretty excited about this weekend,” Smith said. “We are proud of this football team.”

Many other fraternities and sororities, including Sigma Sigma Sigma, tailgated with alumni and current Greeks. Liza Babirak ’91 of Fayetteville, N.C., ran from the parking lot to invite current “Tri-Sigs,” who were in the parade.

“We are doing a 20-year sorority reunion with 60-70 of our best friends, Babirak said. “Football is what brought us together.”

Some Greeks like Carlos Berdecia came a long way for their first Homecoming football experience.

“I live in Oklahoma where I am a pilot evaluator with the Air Force,” Berdecia said. “I’ve been following the football team, but this is my first chance to see them. It’s exciting.”

Judges in the Native Angels Braves Club Room weighed the tailgate menu carefully. Alumni President Jason Bentzler ’96 of Wilmington, N.C., was one of six judges.

“This is a tough assignment, but I am taking one for the team,” Bentzler said. “My best advice for next year’s cooks is more spice!”

Pembroke Pointe apartments donated three stainless steel grills as prizes to winners.


Members of the Class of 1958 occupy a pivotal place in the University’s 121-year history.

 Class of 1958 -- From left: James F. Bell; Eddie M. Locklear; Jerry Cummings; Harry Oxendine; Bundy Locklear; Mary Alice Teets; Choiel Maitland W. Growe; Flora Scott; Dr. Gilbert Sampson.

Class of 1958 -- From left: James F. Bell; Eddie M. Locklear; Jerry Cummings; Harry Oxendine; Bundy Locklear; Mary Alice Teets; Choiel Maitland W. Growe; Flora Scott; Dr. Gilbert Sampson.

Maitland Woodell Growe, who came from Florida to attend, said her mother graduated from Pembroke State College in 1954 as part of the last all-Indian class, and she started school in 1955 as part of the newly integrated school.

Growe’s family owned property where Varsity Fields is presently located. Mary Alice Teets was born on campus and her family owned the land that is now occupied by Grace Stadium. She spoke for the class.

“We are excited to be the first class to take part in a football Homecoming,” Teets said. “We are so proud of this University.”

Dr. Gilbert Sampson, who retired in 2002 as chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, said 1958 was a significant moment in local history.

“The year the Lumbees ran the Klan out of the county was part of our senior year,” Dr. Sampson said. “I’ve seen five chancellors here, but I am enjoying retirement the best of all.”