by Hal Lamar
Morehouse, new head coach win season opener; CAU loses close to Fort Valley
It’s a toss up as to who was happiest following Morehouse College’s opening season 23-14 victory over Benedict August 25 at BT Harvey Stadium.
It could have been Morehouse’s spanking brand new president Robert Franklin who emerged from the locker room moments after the victory carrying the game ball.
“ I’m going to hold on to this one for life,” he told a reporter. “ It will take me a week to come down from this.”
Or it could have been Rich Freeman, Morehouse’s first year head coach who returned to his hometown after a successful stint as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Lane College. Freeman, who attended Alonzo Crim High School in southeast Atlanta, grew up in the Reynoldstown community.
“Coaching at Morehouse and winning my first game as a head coach…..this is like a dream come true.” A crowd of 4410 watching under threatening skies saw Benedict take the lead, albeit briefly, in the second period when they completed a 5 play, 84 yard drive with a touchdown strike from QB Chad Washington to wide receiver Jonathan Cunningham. A two point conversion attempt succeeded.
But the 8-7 lead was short-lived.
Grabbing the oval at their own 19, Morehouse’s offense drove to the Benedict 26. With time expiring quickly in the half, out trotted place-kicker Micah Streiff, a transfer from Tennessee State University, who booted a 36 yard field goal, giving Morehouse a 10-8 lead at the break.
The “House” got their hands on the football first in the second half and took full advantage, marching 48 yards in two plays (it was set up by a runback from Fred Strickland (Morrow High) which gave the Maroon Tigers excellent field position at the Benedict 48. The scoring strike came from the arm of quarterback Carlos King who found wide-out James Steadman in the end zone. It was the first of two TD tosses by King who amassed 227 passing yards and reassured Freeman that he’d made the right choice when he announced in July that Carlos had already won the starting QB spot.
“ I am real happy with my quarterback,” he said .
Benedict narrowed the Morehouse lead to three in the fourth quarter via a seven play, 51 yard drive capped by a 10 yard run from Cunningham, his second TD of the game. But an attempt at their second two point conversion to narrow the lead to one failed.
Then midway the period, Morehouse took advantage of a Benedict fumble to score their third touchdown. This time, King found Achille Hendje in the end zone for six.
“We made too many mistakes and at the wrong times,” said Benedict ‘s head coach Stan Conner. “We can’t win games like that.” Morehouse defense was superb. They managed to sack Benedict quarterbacks four times and forced five turnovers. Linebacker Earl Thomas led the way with five solo shots.
Clark-AU, opening their season in Fort Valley Georgia, fell victim to a 43 yard Wildcat field goal midway the fourth quarter which broke a 10-10 stalemate and allowed the hosts to win it 13-10. Interesting, CAU dominated statistically in first downs, rushing and passing, They finished the contest with 268 total yards to Fort Valley’s 209.
Both CAU and Morehouse are at home this week. The Panthers host West Georgia, commencing their 2007 season while Morehouse will attempt to extend their win streak to two against Fort Valley.
CAU-West Georgia kicks off at 6pm. Fort Valley-Morehouse begins at 7….
AROUND THE SOUTH: Albany State held on to beat defending HBCU national champ North Carolina Central 16-10 in Albany . It was the debut of Moses Rison as NCCU ‘s new head coach. He took over for Rod Broadway, now at Grambling. The GSU Tigers will open this weekend on the road against Alcorn.
HERE ARE MY SIAC PICKS FOR THE WEEK:
Benedict vs Livingstone-3:30pm, Columbia South Carolina
Clark Atlanta vs.West Georgia-6pm_CAU Stadium
Kentucky State vs. Ferris State-7pm, Big Rapids Michigan
Morehouse vs. Fort Valley-7pm-BT Harvey Stadium
Albany State vs. Valdosta State-7pm, Valdosta Georgia
Miles vs. Tuskegee-6pm(CST)-September2, Legion Field, Birmingham
Edward Waters vs. Stillman ( September 3), 3pm-Valdosta Georgia
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