Britt averages just 8.7 yards per catch after averaging 17.2 last year. Te'vell Williams has taken on the big-play responsibilities of the Braves this season, but is the only one to average more than 10 yards per catch (14.1). Last year, UNC-Pembroke had 13 receivers average at least 11 yards per reception.
The Pembroke defense also has given up an average of 392.2 yards per game (268 passes and 124.2 rushing) and 20.2 points a contest.
The Braves have been bailed out by an opportunistic defense, which is plus-9 in turnover ratio. They had seven interceptions against Wingate, but needed to outscore the Bulldogs 21-0 in the fourth quarter to win 49-35. Wingate was half the field away from the game-deciding points Pembroke's Sean Rush returned a fumble 59 yards for the game's deciding points with 3:41 remaining.
Also, the Braves have recovered seven of their opponents' 13 fumbles, while regaining possession on five of their own eight fumbles.
No matter how Pembroke is winning games, UC defensive back Ahmed Shakoor is looking forward to the challenge against an offense that still relies heavily on the pass.
"I take every opponent as seriously as I need to take it," Shakoor said. "The stakes are very high this week. If we lose this week, we're not eligible for the playoffs."
That's not factually true, since the top six teams in each region earn a postseason berth and there's no guarantee that UC will not earn one of those spots in Super Region 1 by season's end.
Still, it's the approach of his team, even if Kirkland is trying to avoid such approaches to what his players see as the biggest game of his tenure.
"If we win this week, I think 10-1 gets us a spot," Green said. "Especially with a win over a nationally ranked UNC-Pembroke team. We're approaching this week that way. This is a playoff atmosphere. At practice, we've upped everything, practice harder, condition more, hit more, do everything we have to do to get in position to win this game."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstev...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.