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25th Annual Chicago Football Classic presented exciting finish

Photo caption: Central State University players celebrate with a hug following their 24-21 win in the Chicago Football Classic. (Photo by Marcus Robinson)

Thanks to a clutch field goal in the fourth quarter by the special team’s unit, Central State University defeated Mississippi Valley State University 24-21, at the 25th Annual Chicago Football Classic, Saturday, September 2, at Soldier Field.

“Basically when you look at an HBCU football/Classic game, you are bringing together two universities that have distinguished knowledge and history over the years as institutions, “said Curtis Symonds, president and co-founder of HBCU GO, in a past interview with the Crusader.

“And to bring your athletic programs into Chicago, which is basically the Midwest and definitely a historical moment. I think if I was a viewer or a listener today, I would pay attention to everything going on around the Classic, [especially the young people].”

Prior to the game, the two schools had two goals in mind: 1. Win the game at Soldier Field and 2. Win the Battle of the Bands Competition.

CSU wide receiver Jeremiah Flores would go home with the game MVP, scoring two touchdowns in the victory. Flores did his part (for CSU) to help his team hoist the trophy Saturday evening.

In the first quarter, CSU defense would surrender a touchdown to MVSU offense, falling behind 7-0 in the quarter. Later in the quarter, CSU’s offense would bounce back with a touchdown of their own, tying the game at 7-7.

In the second quarter, MVSU offense would score again and earn a 13-7 half time lead. Following the score by MVSU, CSU blocked the extra point.

MVSU led 13-7 at the half.

In the third quarter, CSU scored another touchdown to take their first lead of the game at 14-13. In the fourth quarter, CSU’s defensive unit surrendered both a touchdown and a two-point conversion making the score 21-14, MVSU.

To tie the game at 21, CSU scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter and also made a huge defensive stop against the MVSU offense. After the stop, CSU made their last and final drive which ended with a field goal. The field goal by CSU led them to a three point victory.

Final Score: CSU 24, MVSU 21

With the victory, CSU improved to 1-0 on the season.

In addition to the game, the Chicago Football Classic’s goal was to connect Chicagoland students with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) through direct scholarships, HBCU College and Career Fairs, along with a Financial Empowerment Summit all sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Chicago Football Classic founder Larry Huggins in collaboration with representatives from Central State University, Mississippi Valley State University, business professionals and city officials announced the return of the game with one phrase: “Are you ready for some football!”

Dubbed the World’s Largest Black College Class Reunion by Huggins and the CFC, this year’s Classic featured several events leading up to the game including a softball game at Rainbow Beach, HBCU Day with the Cubs at Wrigley Field and a pep rally featuring a mini “Battle of the Bands” at Daley Plaza.

Other major events leading up to the Classic included an annual golf outing at Harborside golf course, tailgating, Battle of the High School Bands, Battle of the Bands and the CFC College & Career Fair and Empowerment Summit, sponsored by BMO Bank.

“When you stop and think about the history of this game and the fact we’ve been doing it for 25 years, this is kind of like a reunion of sorts,” said Huggins in a past interview with the Crusader. “So you have to go back to the beginning of how we got here.”

Without the help of many business partners, Huggins said, it wouldn’t be possible to provide millions of dollars in scholarships for numerous students to attend HBCUs.

“This has become our legacy. This has become an institution in the city of Chicago. And that’s why we are passing the torch on to our children,” Huggins said.

The CFC stated that the events celebrate the passion and pageantry of HBCUs. Over $350,000 in scholarship funding was given to 20 new and returning students from across the Chicagoland area, according to the organization.

A Jeep Gladiator, donated by presenting sponsor Sherman Dodge, was raffled off at the game and proceeds from the raffle went towards scholarships given out from the Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund.

CFC also partnered with Byron Allen’s “Allen Media Group (AMG)” free-streaming digital platform HBCU GO as its broadcast partner for the game to kick-off the 2023 HBCU football season. The game was televised for the first time on the WGN Television Network.

Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper | + posts

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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