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Inside Hotlanta and The SIAC
October 21, 2008


by Hal Lamar
Onnidan Online Columnist

Tuskegee notches win number 23 in a helluva way

(TUSKEGEE, ALABAMA)—Readers of this space and Onnidan, take it from me. You had to be there to see the bizarre conclusion of Tuskegee’s 33-20 victory over Albany State be in the grandstands where I sat to see and witness the grim faces of hard core Ram fans who came so-o-o-o close to pulling off the upset of the season.

            The last 7:01 of this contest is one that few of the estimated 9143 fans at Cleve Abbott Memorial Stadium (or this writer) will likely forget for awhile.

Trailing 20-14, the Ram elevens behind senior signal caller Kisan  Flakes, moved the oval 90 yards in 10 plays to tie the game at 20-20. Rams fans went wild but it was doused some when ASU was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebrating in the end zone following the touchdown. That forced them to try and convert the extra point 15 yards further back. Fans howled in protest toward the officiating crew but to no avail. The PAT by junior Juan Bongarra missed,


Then with 2:54 remaining, Tuskegee then came right back down the field on a 60 yard scoring drive to regain the lead 27-20.

Then, things REALLY got interesting.

On the ensuing kickoff, ASU mishandled the reception. The ball hit running back Demetrice Johnson who then attempted to recover in the end zone. He was tackled in lieu which shook the oval loose. Michael Henley, a junior from Los Angeles California , bounced on the loose football in the end zone. Touchdown, Tuskegee, their second with only 4 seconds of play elapsed.

“I love special teams, “ said Tuskegee head coach Willie Slater with his usual cool demeanor,

“ Our kickoff coverage is an area we wanted to improve in and for two weekends in a row, our kickoff coverage team has scored a touchdown .We’re excited about those guys.”


ASU did manage to get the ball back with 2:41 remaining  but then made what seemed a strange move. Flakes was pulled at QB and replaced y backup QB AJ McKenna. His first and only pass from scrimmage was intercepted by Tuskegee’s Derek Douglas which sealed ASU’s fate . “I’m a player,” said Flakes, responding to reporter inquiries about the sudden switch. I am not a coach so I won’t speak on that. I don’t understand it but there are things in life you don’t understand.” “We played a good football team,” Slater told INSIDE. “ We play good teams that give us their best shot every week. Our guys are stepping up to the task.”

Although ASU held all-world Skegee quarterback Jacary Atkinson to only 25 yards rushing, stopping his air attack was another story. The senior from Valley Alabama completed 50% of his 22 attempts for 131 yards and two touchdown. Even Tony Forney, the junior running back from metro Atlanta’s McNair High School got in on the passing attack. His 65 yard  halfback toss to Jason English helped set up Tuskegee’s second touchdown of the contest.

Only ASU’s 5-2 overall mark keeps the Rams in second place in the SiAC standings and in contention to represent the conference once again in the NCAA Division II playoffs. But breathing down their necks is poker hot Clark-AU which went hog wild on their cross campus rival Morehouse last Saturday 29-2. They are not alone. Fort Valley is also right up in the mix. Deondra Clark’s big Cats which got off to a jello-shaky start at the beginning of the season  before Clark shed his dual role as head coach and athletic director to focus on the gridiron, have notched three straight conference victories since September 27. Valley has an inside shot at  post season play themselves but will have to win their three remaining conference tilts with Miles, Albany State and Stillman. Likewise, CAU will also have to win their three remaining conference tilts and it won’t be easy. Ted Bahhur’s Panthers will face Lane, Tuskegee (ouch!) and Benedict in the CSRA in Augusta Georgia. And ASU is also facing three conference challenges  first as a homecoming foe for Morehouse, then their 19th Fountain City Classic tilt with Fort Valley on November 1 and their season finale at home against Miles. I can imagine that come October 25, Bahhur and his boys will have one eye focused on Lane and  the other watching the outcome of Morehouse-Albany…

North Carolina A&T is in the hunt for a new head football coach. Their interim is former A&T running back sensation George Ragsdale who would make a good fit for the job permanently. But don’t be at all surprised if the school doesn’t attempt to lure Tuskegee’s Willie Slater away from D-2 to D-1 football via Greensboro North Carolina.

Former Morris Brown assistant football coach William Head, now AD at Fisk University, has guided the Bulldogs into the NAIA. His name has also been mentioned in some circles as a possible candidate for SIAC Commissioner…..

Albany State over Morehouse
CAU over Lane
Tuskegee over Kentucky State
Fort Valley over Miles
Benedict over Stillman
Savannah State idle

Got an item or comment?
Contact Hal at hallamar@comcast.net

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