First the good news. Although dropping from #1 to #2 in the Super 2 Division II regional standings of the NCAA, Miles still has an excellent shot at making the D-2 playoffs and even a shot at hosting round one. Reggie Ruffin’s elevens finished the regular season at 8-2.
Now the bad news.
The Bears won’t get the chance to defend their SIAC title by virtue of their 27-17 loss last weekend to Tuskegee in Fairfield, Alabama on Miles campus just a few throws from downtown Birmingham.
The 15,791 fans who crammed every vacant seat and plot of land at Albert Sloan Stadium (and I DO mean crammed. The stadium was built to seat 8,500) watched a great game where the lead jumped back and forth from the Bear to the Tiger until the third quarter. That’s when Tuskegee sophomore quarterback Justin Nared ended a 72-yard drive in the third period with a 47-yard TD strike to sophomore wide out Larry Cobb to break the 14-14 halftime deadlock to move ahead by 7. A subsequent drive by Miles ended at the Tuskegee 6 when senior quarterback David Thomas fumbled. Miles defense kept Tuskegee from cashing in and handed the oval back to their offense at their own six yard line. The Bears then ate up 8:08 of clock and marched 82 yards to the Tuskegee nine but were stalled by the Tiger defense and forced to settle for a 29 yard field goal by Patton Chambers.Ruffin
Perhaps the Bears consumed TOO much clock. Tuskegee then went on a marathon drive of their own, marching 82 yards and taking 8:23 of the scoreboard but managed to score six on a one yard plug by Nared. Miles got the ball back but only had 1:56 to work with. The drive started at their own 31 but in four plays could only move the oval a collective one yard before time ran out.
The leading rusher for both teams was Tuskegee senior Derrick Washington, a transfer from the University of Missouri who rushed for 208 yards but scored none of the school’s four touchdowns. He had a hand, a BIG hand, however, in setting up all of them. Admittedly to the untrained eye, it would seem peculiar that the Tigers would have so much success on the ground against the SIAC’s number one defense. But not to Ruffin.
“Number one, we had some guys banged up,“ he told INSIDE. “Tuskegee did have an open week to rest up, heal. We played straight through and everybody knew that. We’ve really been banged up from day one and duct-taping here and there.”Washington
”We really came in thinking we could pass and run against them,” said Tuskegee’s Washington. “But the rushing game was working for us so we stuck with that.”
Meanwhile, over in Columbus Georgia, Fort Valley and Albany State were battling it out in the 22nd Fountain City Classic with the Wildcats winning 38-20 . Wildcat head coach Donnie Pittman’s secret weapon (actually, it’s not THAT big a secret) was senior quarterback Antonio Henton who threw for three touchdowns and passed 253 yards. This win will likely be cherished for Fort Valley for some time to come. Notwithstanding it won them a post-season trip to Atlanta, it was also only the second time the Wildcats have knocked the horns off the Ram since 2000.
ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: Morehouse saw their franchise running back David Carter having his best performance of the season as he scored five times and rushed for 186 yards to help the Marooners crush Kentucky State 55-7. The five touchdowns tied a Morehouse record with former gridder Andrew Smith who accomplished the same feat in 1968 (44 years before). Senior linebacker Brandon Houston ended his Morehouse grid career on a high note with 12 tackles and scored one of Morehouse’s eight TDs via an interception. The only downside, perhaps , of the season-ending win was that at 3-7, it was the first losing season suffered by Morehouse Head Coach Richard Freeman since the native Atlantan and Tennessee State grad took over the program in 2007….Clark-AU , meanwhile, remained consistent. On September 1, the Panthers lost both their home and season opener 44-0 to West Alabama. On Saturday, November 2, the Panthers lost their season finale 37-12 to the Stillman Tigers thanks to at least three turnovers and the strong performance of Stillman true freshman quarterback Joshua Straughan. The Tiger win ended a three game losing skid while the loss was the eighth straight for the Panthers who finish out at 2-8. Fortunately, their two wins this season allows them to escape finishing in last place in the SIAC’s eastern division and having the worst won-loss in the whole conference. That fate appears reserved for Kentucky State of the SIAC West which didn’t win a division or conference tilt and only one overall game with a finale set for November 17 against the Marauders of Central State of Ohio (the SIAC’s newest member as of next season)….. Lane College won its fifth game of the season 38-21 to finish the season with a .500 record, their best since their 8-3 seasons of 2006 and 2007 which featured wide receiver Jacoby Jones, now a record setting wide receiver and kickoff-punt returner for the Baltimore Ravens…Paying off the bet
XTRA POINTS: Inside Atlanta was the loser of a friendly wager between myself and INSIDE’s Tuskegee correspondent Julius Royals. I bet Royals, a 1982 Tuskegee grad, that I would wear a Tuskegee shirt if they beat Miles and he would wear a Miles shirt if Miles won. Guess who lost?
THIS WEEK’s GAMES AND PICKS
STILLMAN over Concordia-Selma-Tuscaloosa Alabama ( Stillman’s homecoming)
FOR THE SIAC CHAMPIONSHIP TUSKEGEE over Ft. Valley-Atlanta-Lakewood Stadium-Kickoff 8pm-(the game will be carried nationally by CSS-TV)
The Miles College “Good News” Golden Bears , currently in second place in the western division of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (as in SIAC), haven’t let that stop them from achieving high points in other places. Last week, the first time the NCAA Regional standings were posted this season, the Bears came out shining like a newly minted penny in 1ST place in the so-called “Super” Region 2. This is no small potatoes considering the caliber of talent represented in the region. Not only that, the Bears are also the 15th best NCAA Division II school in the country, according to the latest poll of the top 25 D-2 schools by the American Football Coaches Association.
Although the school might not admit it, I’d be willing to wager that this batch of 2012 accomplishments equals the euphoria of 2009 when the Bears upset Tuskegee 23-16 in the Labor Day Classic at Birmingham’s Legion Field and why not? Prior to that, the Goldens under both Rick Comegy and Willie Slater had sported a won-loss record of 110-18 since 1998 which included two national crowns, a heap of conference titles and nine Pioneer Bowl championships.Miles College Golden Bears
Now, perhaps the biggest challenge of the Bears comes Saturday at 4pm at Albert Sloan Stadium on Miles’ college campus when they collide with the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee . To say that Tuskegee will be hunting for “Bear” when they come to Fairfield, Alabama is an understatement. The Golden boys are 2-0 against Miles since 2010 and they aim to make it 3-0. The stakes are high for this game. The winner will take home all the marbles, including a trip to Atlanta for the 2nd SIAC championship game November 10. Miles is the defending conference champ and could conceivably win twice. Win or lose, the Bears will in all likelihood advance to the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, a first for Miles (it is also the first time a school from the SIAC has been ranked number 1 in any of the NCAA’s four Super Regions). That is likely why Tuskegee REALLY wants to win Saturday’s game and a shot at the conference crown since their Thanksgiving tilt with Alabama State disqualifies them for NCAA post-season play (that ends this year, however when ASU and Tuskegee will supposedly drop the Thanksgiving game and begin home-and-home play to be scheduled during the regular season.)
While this SIAC western division clash rages, another battle, this time for the SIAC eastern crown, will be playing itself out 184 miles away in Columbus Ga. Albany State will take on the Wildcats of Fort Valley State in the 23rd playing of the Fountain City Classic. ASU surrendered the first SIAC Championship Game title last year to Miles, 20-17, thanks to a field goal by Miles placekicker Patton Chambers. ASU wants another chance in the worst way but to get there, they’ve got to get past Donnie Pittman’s Wildcats who also want to become the 99 year old conference’s second true champ. Like Tuskegee-Miles, the winner of Valley and ASU live to play another day, a big day November 10 in Atlanta.
ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: Morehouse’s fourth overall loss in the last five tries came last weekend when they fell to homecoming guests Fort Valley 26-19. A crowd of 24,239, which likely included a representative crowd of Wildcat supporters, crammed BT Harvey Stadium to witness the clash between Wildcat and Tiger which last year ended in a crushing defeat for Fort Valley in Peach County. That humiliating loss at home last year was likely not far from the minds of Valley players or their coach Donnie Pittman as the Wildcats took a 20-7 lead over “The House” by halftime and , despite a dogged Morehouse effort to overtake the lead, FVSU hung on to spoil homecoming for the Maroon Tigers , 26-19….Tuskegee meanwhile, defeated Clark AU 14-0 in Atlanta but CAU’s defense gave Tuskegee’s offense, ranked third in scoring offense in the SIAC, all they could handle, holding the Goldens to seven points in both halves of the game, even forcing TU to utilize nine plays to score their second touchdown in the third period from the CAU 18 yard line . CAU’s defense, ranked fourth in the conference, forced three Tuskegee turnovers in the game and kept the 14-0 outcome from becoming a 20-0 victory when they kept Tuskegee out of the end zone at the CAU 5 before time ran out.…Miles the number one ranked team among Division II colleges in the NCAA’s so-called Super 2 region, knocked off Stillman 49-13 and knocked the Tigers out of any possibility of winning the SIAC west, Lane defeated Kentucky State 28-14 for their second win in the last three tries, and Albany State ended Benedict’s one game win streak 24-13 in last week’s Augusta Ga. Classic.
XTRA POINTS: CSS, CBS Sports, even the new Bounce network which has been carrying CIAA contests of late, have cheated themselves by not juggling schedules and sending their TV cameras and crews to either Tuskegee-Miles or ASU and Fort Valley. These games are ratings boosters for those networks….. Julius Royals, INSIDE’s correspondent and a 1982 Tuskegee graduate and I decided to take the Tuskegee-Miles game more interesting. If Miles wins the contest, I will sport a Tuskegee T-shirt to the SIAC championship game November 10. If Tuskegee loses, he will sport a Miles t-shirt to the same game. INSIDE Photog Patsy Lamar will photo Royals and I after Saturday’s contest….
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS:
Morehouse over Kentucky State- Frankfort Ky.
Stillman over CAU-Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Albany State over Fort Valley-Columbus Ga ( Fountain City Classic)
ATLANTA-When the Albany State Ram elevens under James “Mike” White defeated North Greenville in game one of this-hear 2012 season, the whole state of “Ramdon” whooped and hollered. Notwithstanding their glee for winning the first game and home opener for the season, they remember too that just 42 weeks before on November 19, 2011, the Crusaders trampled the Rams 63-14 in round one of the NCAA DII playoffs (to add injury to insult, the week before, the Rams lost 20-17 to Miles in the first ever championship game of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
The 24-12 revenge win over North Greenville this year partly made up for those season ending heartbreakers. I say partly because the next week, ASU lost 37-9 to Wingate on the road to commence a losing avalanche of three games. After Wingate came the 13-12 loss to the CIAA’s Elizabeth City Vikings, then a humiliating 41-6 loss to Miles at home. It meant that, counting their final two losses of 2011, the Rams were 1-5. Whispers were getting louder that maybe White, in his 12th season as head coach and a former Ram himself, might not survive to see “lucky” 13.
Perhaps White and his gang of Rams heard those vocal footsteps and decided it was time adopt a phrase from Arsenio Hall and “get busy.”
WhiteIt started with Kentucky State in the Chicago Classic and then Lane in Macon, Morehouse in the ATL and then a return home and a homecoming win over Clark-AU. Then the lowly 1-3 Rams became the 5-3 Rams, with a 2-0 division and 4-1 conference mark. They moved Morehouse out of second place in the SIAC east and now have their eyes on first place Fort Valley (although they will first have to get by Benedict, their opponent this weekend and avoid making mistakes that James Woody’s Carolina Tigers have shown they will bounce on in a minute!).
Elsewhere in the SIAC, Both AU Center grid programs suffered major conference and divisional losses last weekend. The Clark-Atlanta Panthers, homecoming guests of Albany State University, kept ASU out their own end zone until the final three minutes and change in the first half when the Rams kicked a 38-yard field goal, followed by a half-ending touchdown to go into the locker room at the break trailing 10-3. The second half was practically all- Albany State. CAU did manage to score late in the fourth period with a ten yard run by junior running back Joshua Andrews . Head Coach Daryl McNeill was quoted in the Albany Herald after Saturday’s loss as saying that the Rams didn’t really beat them as bad as they (CAU) beat themselves.” They weren’t a better team than us (Saturday). (Albany State) isn’t that good of a football team….we just don’t have the numbers to compete“ ( CAU’s roster lists 57 players, ASU’s roster lists 72).
Morehouse, meanwhile, continued to suffer from the diseases “fumble-itis” and “boo- boo flu” as they committed five turnovers, four of which resulted in Benedict College scores as the winless Tigers won their homecoming game 39-26. It was Benedict’s first victory of the season and the first time since 2008 that they‘ve beaten Morehouse since that 7-3 score in the opening game of the season that year for both teams.
MilesMorehouse took a 15-13 lead at 5:32 of the third period on a two yard run by freshman running back Quendarius Hall . But 16 seconds later on the ensuing Morehouse kick, Benedict College’s Trent Miles took advantage of a breakdown on Morehouse special teams (which has happened a lot this year) to race 93 yards for a touchdown, handing the lead right back to Benedict, 22-13. Then a Morehouse boo-boo (fumble) put Benedict in scoring position which they took advantage of via a 39-yard touchdown run by Chris Johnson. But then Morehouse came roaring back, narrowing the Benedict lead to six when Donnay Ragland threw a 75 yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Devon Mann . But with 3:24 remaining, the boo flu struck the Marooners again when a pass by Ragland was intercepted by Benedict’s Jaquay Perdue who returned it 64 yards for a score. Morehouse again narrowed the lead to 6 points when Ragland tossed a 20-yard TD pass to sophomore tight end Khamar Smith. But then comes Benedict one mo’ time , recovering an attempted on-side kick by Morehouse which was returned to the Morehouse one yard line by Maurice Griffin. Johnson then nailed the coffin shut with his second rushing touchdown. Morehouse had one opportunity left when Thomas Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Benedict 27. But time ran out on Morehouse.
Elsewhere in the conference, Miles spoiled Lane’s homecoming 38-20 and Fort Valley defeated Stillman 35-17.
XTRA POINTS: Albany St. had two very special guests at homecoming last weekend. Alice Coachman, who captured a gold medal in the 1948 London Olympics, first for a black woman, returned to her alma mater (though she initially started at Tuskegee and enrolled at ASU when she returned from the London games) for the first time in 10 years…..Also present was Frank “Choo-Choo” Brown, who in 1968 was drafted In the 8th round by the Dallas Cowboys, the first ASU gridder so selected….Some solace for Morehouse as they approach homecoming 2012 October 27. Of seven homecoming games played by SIAC teams so far this season, only two schools, Lane and Kentucky State, have lost….Some Tuskegee hard core supporters are eating cancer serious about moving the athletic program to Division I. They have created a web site to express their views. Check out www. TUD1explore.com
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS
Fort Valley over Morehouse-2pm, BT Harvey Stadium (HC)
Miles over Stillman-Fairfield Alabama (Heritage Sports Radio Net (HSRN.com) will broadcast)
Lane over Kentucky State-Frankfort Ky.
Albany State over Benedict-Augusta Ga. (Augusta Classic)
ATLANTA- Everybody and his/her gray haired grandma is wondering who will come to Atlanta’s Lakewood Stadium November 10 to decide the champ of the 99 year old Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
You will recall that last year, The good-news Bears of Miles College slid past the Ram elevens of Albany State University 20-17 behind the golden toe of then sophomore Patton Chambers who kicked a 29 yard field goal with nine seconds left in the game.Chambers
Can lightning strike twice in Fairfield Alabama?
The current standings suggest it could conceivably happen. Right now, Reggie Ruffin’s elevens and that seemingly unstoppable offense of his is in second place in the SIAC’s western division. But getting back to Atlanta a second time won’t be a snap. The numero uno team in the division currently is Willie Slater’s Tuskegee Golden Tigers who seem comfortable in that slot. But of four remaining conference games in the season, three of them are divisional clashes. And yes, Patsy, those three do include a clash with the Golden Bears and they will enjoy home field advantage since the schedule indicates the game will be played at Sloan Stadium in Fairfield, Alabama. And then lurking in third place is Stillman College who are not mathematically out of anything yet thanks to their division and conference record (in fact, their 16-0 shutout loss to Tuskegee on last Thursday was their first for conference and division games) Three of Stillman's last four games of the season are divisional clashes and one of them is also against Miles.
Conversely in the SIAC East, Albany State is as anxious as an expectant couple to get back to the ATL for another shot at the conference crown. They are currently in second place behind first place Fort Valley. Donnie Pittman’s Wildcats would also appreciate a trip north to the capital city . To do that they will have to have their “A” game on for the rest of the season since they will face Stillman, Morehouse and their always tough clash with Albany State in Columbus Georgia’s Fountain City Classic .And speaking of Morehouse, the team that the forecasters thought would take this division title without much of a fight, it will be an uphill climb from the bottom for Rich Freeman and his elevens to prove their coaching colleagues right in their pre-season predictions. But to have even a ghost of a chance to overtake Tuskegee and ASU, the Marooners will have to defeat Benedict, Fort Valley which happens to be Morehouse’s homecoming opponent, and win their season finale at home against Kentucky State.Lakewood Stadium
Last week in the SIAC, Fort Valley remained in first place in the SIAC east with a non-conference win over Concordia-Selma, Clark-AU won its homecoming and a division game by defeating Benedict, 14-10. Morehouse took it on the chin at home from ASU, 16-13….Lane broke a two game losing streak by beating Point University of Valley, Alabama, 16-10 and Miles won its first divisional contest 45-0 over Kentucky State. It also moved the 6-1 Golden Bears into second place in the SIAC east behind first place Tuskegee.
XTRA POINTS: Last year, the inaugural SIAC championship game drew a crowd of 6374 fans., But conference commissioner Greg Moore. hopes to greatly improve that figure at this year’s event. For one thing, the game will be played at Atlanta’s Lakewood Stadium, a field normally hosting high school games which has been completely refurbished .This year, the game will be nationally televised by CSS, and it will feature a battle of high school bands…….
I’m a bit surprised I haven’t heard more about that 108 yard kickoff return by Baltimore Raven and Lane College grad Jacoby Jones. It supposedly established a new NFL record. …
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS
Tuskegee over Kentucky State- Tuskegee Ala (HC)
Miles over Lane-Jackson Tn. (HC)
Albany State over CAU- Albany Ga. (HC)
Fort Valley over Stillman-Valdosta Ga. (South Ga. Heritage Classic)
ATLANTA-The Ram toughs of Albany State defeated Lane 36-14 last Saturday in the so called Music City Classic in Macon Georgia. I sort of wondered though why the team did somersaults after beating a team next to last place in the SIAC west, a team they had beaten ( and I do mean beaten) 11 of 12 years since 2000 and, except for last year’s win, held Lane scoring to only 77 points.
Here are some possible reasons for the celebration: *In 2011, Lane beat Albany State 26-24 after trailing the Rams by three touchdowns in the second half. The Rams went to Macon this year with blood in their eyes!
*Before their back-to-back wins over Lane and Kentucky State and, of course, their season opening victory over North Greenville, the Rams lost three in a row, including an horrendously embarrassing 41-6 loss to Miles at home. The Rams needed to restore confidence and respectability in the SIAC and their loyal home fans. They were sinking deep into divisional quicksand.
So considering that backdrop , it is easy to understand why the Rams would be so gleeful after the victory. The win improves their conference record to 2-1 and they are playing .500 ball with an overall 3-3 record but they have yet to play anyone in their conference division. They’ll get that chance this weekend when they journey to Atlanta to take on the eastern division second place Morehouse Tigers. The win is pivotal for both teams. After Morehouse, Albany’s final three games of the regular season are with division rivals while Morehouse will almost have to win Saturday since their last three will include only two divisional matchups.
Elsewhere in the conference, Stillman held on to first place in the SIAC West with a 24-19 win on the road against Benedict. The Tigers, desperate for a victory, scored a too-little-too late fourth quarter touchdown to move to with six of the Stillman lead….
Despite a near million chances to score including two instances with the oval at the Tuskegee one, Willie Slater’s Goldens, behind the 207 yard passing performance of sophomore Justin Nared, defeated Morehouse 21-14 in the 77th playing of the Morehouse-Tuskegee classic ( once known as the Columbus Classic) before 10,000….
Miles held visiting Clark-AU to seven points and scored themselves in each quarter to win their homecoming 28-7 before 13,783 and Fort Valley still holds first place in the SIAC east with a 36-6 victory over Kentucky State 36-6.
XTRA POINTS: Fort Valley’s Justin Rosenbaum’s 53 yard field goal against Kentucky State was overshadowed by the 57 yarder he kicked last year . It nearly tied an SIAC record held by Stillman kicker Alejandro Huerta who booted a 58-yarder at Shaw earlier this season….
The Tuskegee-Stillman contest in Tuscaloosa Alabama is being televised nationally over CSS-cable TV Thursday night…..Is Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas headed to Spelman College?......
Spring Hill CollegeMobile Alabama’s Spring Hill College, a 182 year old institution which has applied for membership in the SIAC, is a 1200 Student Catholic College and a current member of the NAIA’s Southern States Athletic Conference. To qualify, the Badgers will have to join the NCAA ‘s Division II and then likely play provisionally in the conference for a season until certified to play a full schedule by the SIAC.
The school plays every sport offered by the SIAC and also fields a bowling and soccer team. They don’t currently have a football team but that might change. If accepted, they would become the 14th member of the SIAC and the fourth team to offer basketball and spring sports only along with Paine of Augusta, Lemoyne-Owen of Memphis and Claflin University of South Carolina.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS
Tuskegee at Stillman- Tuskegee by 7 Lane at Point University (Valley Alabama)-Lane by 3 Miles at Kentucky State-Miles by 10 Benedict at CAU-CAU by 7 (CAU Homecoming) Concordia-Selma at Fort Valley-Valley by 4 (FVSU Homecoming) Albany State at Morehouse-Albany by 6