By Master Sgt. James Branch, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 19, 2018
ATLANTA -- After a year break, the Air Force Reserve returned as the title sponsor of the fourth annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, the championship game for Historically Black College and University football.
The North Carolina A&T State University Aggies, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions, took on the Alcon State Braves, Southwestern Athletic Conference champions Dec. 15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The game marked the first time the two teams met since they battled each other in 2015, at the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
John Grant, Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl executive director, expressed his gratitude on behalf of ESPN Events to the Air Force Reserve for joining the Bowl Committee as this year’s sponsor, and stated its commitment is vital to the success of the event.
“The theme of this year’s Celebration Bowl is all about the celebration of service,” he said. “Partnering with the Air Force Reserve allows us to truly honor and commemorate those who volunteer and serve to protect our communities and country”
In addition to increasing its brand recognition to a broad national audience, the Air Force Reserve seized the opportunity to highlight its many education and career benefits, and showcase the nearly 74,000 Citizen Airmen who are part of the communities they serve. They study in colleges and universities, support local community programs, maintain civilian careers, and make an impact each and every day.
Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee, Chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, believes it’s incredibly significant the Air Force Reserve uses the Celebration Bowl platform to honor and promote its legacy of culture and diversity.
“Diversity takes on all forms, whether it’s ethnicity, gender, or thought,” he said. “The fusion of varied cultures creates a strong military that can respond whenever America needs us. Serving our country is important, and exciting. The more we can get that word out, the better the Air Force Reserve will be.”
Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly, AFRC command chief, said coming back as the title sponsor after a year off re-affirms Air Force Reserve’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“For me, the chance to showcase the Reserve to college students who are looking for advancement opportunities is beyond words,” she said. “Being a woman from the Hispanic community, I can testify to the opportunities the Air Force Reserve offers.”
Scobee flipped the coin, and the Aggies received the first kick-off, and put the first touchdown score of the game on the board in just three downs. The Braves trailed them for the entire game, with a half time score of 17-6. Although they scored 18 points in the second half of the game, they would never catch up, and the Aggies won 24-22, becoming the 2018 National HBCU football champions.
Scobee presented the Championship Trophy to Sam Washington, N.C. A&T head coach, Richie Kittle, Defensive MVP with nine tackles, and Lamar Richard, Offensive MVP with 292 passing yards and two touchdowns.
During the postgame press conference, Richard, a senior, said it felt good win the championship, and go out on top. He thanked the Air Force Reserve, bowl committee, and the city of Atlanta.
Commercials and announcements throughout the game highlighted the many opportunities the Air Force Reserve offers to individuals who want to serve their country part-time while pursuing an education or advancing their civilian career.
“The Air Force Reserve is more than proud to once again sponsor the premier college bowl game of the season,” said Col. Timothy H. Martz, Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service commander. “Although the game is a vehicle for us to reach a number of demographics, the event is beyond recruiting for us. It gives AFRC the ability to leave a positive impression on not only HBCUs but the entire country.”
According to Meltwater Media Monitoring Service, the sponsorship garnered nearly $127 million in advertising value equivalent and recorded nearly 13.7 billion positive impressions through television broadcasting and print and online media reporting in addition to nearly 32,500 fans reached in the Mercedes Benz stadium during the game.