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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar
Photos b
y Patsy Collier-Lamar

Albany State loses to North Greenvillle Rams eliminated from playoffs

TIGERVILLE,S.C.-Albany State took its eighth trip in as many years to the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday, November 19. And as they have done in all but two of those trips, they were knocked off in the first round of play. This time, the winners were the Crusaders of North Greenville University.

The final: North Greenville 63, Albany State 14.

A crowd of only 3374 turned out for the Crusaders’ first ever trip to post-season play. A sizeable percentage of that number were Albany State fans who journeyed 342 miles to watch the worst playoff  beating inflicted on a Ram team since a 66-35 drubbing they suffered from Catawba during the first round of the 2007 playoffs. It was the third worst licking in ASU history. They were clubbed 66-7 by South Carolina State in 1965 and 56-6 by Tuskegee in 1991.

“We didn’t play well,” ASU Head Coach Mike White told reporters after the carnage. That probably represents the understatement of the season. The Rams were turned everyway but loose by the 10-2 Crusaders, seeded third among the top 10 finishers in the NCAA’s so called “super 2” region.North_Greenville_scores_111911North Greenville scores six of its 63 points in playoff win over Albany State - Cory Guinn Photo

The scoring orgy started with seven points from NGU better than halfway through the first quarter. Then, the Crusaders let loose with a 35 point barrage in the second quarter, including a 62-yard punt return by  junior Isaiah Johnson. It was the first of two times Albany State special teams experienced a significant meltdown. The other was a 75-yard kickoff return by freshman Cedric Proctor with 22 seconds left in the first half. That touchdown came just 12 seconds after Albany State finally got on the scoreboard with a one-yard run to end a 70-yard, six play scoring drive. Stanley Jennings, the SIAC’s offensive player of the year, had 224 yards passing but was sacked five times. Passing yardage, in fact, was the only statistic that the Rams finished first in, outdistancing their hosts 320-144.

The Rams would score once more in the fourth period on a pass play from freshman quarterback Blaize Schaeffer to sophomore tight end Darrius Nelson.

The lopsided loss will be especially bitter for Albany State who likely will drop from the list of top 25 NCAA Division II colleges. It culminates a particularly tough 2011 campaign for the Rams who were forced to play 12 straight games without benefit of an off-week. All bu four of those 12 were on the road.

XTRA POINTS: The final regular season game in the SIAC for 2011 is the 88th annual Tuskegee-Alabama State football game Thanksgiving afternoon. Kickoff is 3pm and will be broadcast live over ESPNU…..SIAC champ Miles College will represent the SIAC at Pioneer Bowl XIII. They will face the Golden Bulls of Johnson C Smith University December 3 in Columbus Georgia. . This is Miles’ first trip to the Pioneer. Johnson C Smith lost to Tuskegee 17-7 in Pioneer IX. The SIAC holds a 9-3 lead over the CIAA in the series. Last year, St Augustine's defeated Fort Valley 20-9 in Pioneer XII…It’s a pretty good bet that this year’s SWAC championship game in Birmingham Alabama December 10 will feature two former head coaches for Morehouse College. Doug Williams, now at Grambling State, coached at Morehouse one season in 1997. Anthony Jones, now at Alabama A&M, coached three seasons at Morehouse from 1999 to 2001.

PASSING THOUGHT: Now that the SIAC has become the third of the four HBCU conferences to realign themselves and play for their conference’s championship, can the ole’ MEAC be far behind?

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