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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar
Photos b
y Patsy Collier-Lamar

Johnson C Smith edges Miles to win Pioneer XIII

COLUMBUS, Ga.- Miles College missed tying Johnson C Smith in the 13th Pioneer Bowl here by a missed two-point conversion attempt and lost to the Golden Bulls 35-33.

This year, a crowd of 6691, second only to the near 9000 that witnessed Pioneer I in 1997, witnessed the only NCAA sanctioned bowl game involving HBCU schools.

The win for JC Smith was their first post-season victory since the school first suited up for football back in 1892 as Biddle College. In fact, the Bulls, along with opponent Livingstone College, were in he first black college grid game ever played.

It appeared that Johnson C Smith had put the game on ice with 1:28 left when junior Dedrick Anderson scored from the 25.

Miles, who had led only one time remaining, wasn’t finished. With only 1:22 seconds to work with, the Golden Bears marched 75 yards and scored on a 25-yard pass play from junior quarterback David Thomas to junior tight end Vondragus Hudson.

JCSU celebrates Pioneer Bowl XIII winJCSU celebrates Pioneer Bowl XIII win
PB13 - Moore-Wallace-Knox(L-R) SIAC's Greg Moore, JCSU's Keahn Wallace, CIAA's George Knox
JCSU Coach Steven AycockJCSU Coach Steven Aycock interviewed by ESPN's Stan Lewter

But Miles was not out of the woods.

Now trailing 35-33, the Bears were left with no other choice than to attempt a two point conversion to tie. Thomas rolled right and fired a bullet into the gut of their celebrated running back Jordan Lewis out of the backfield.

Lewis couldn’t hold on .

Devastated, the junior transfer from Samford College nearly collapsed from embarrassment but was consoled by teammates and at least one coach.Pioneer Bowl Trophy

“ You know, I will accept that play considering the kind of season you’ve had,” said one unidentified coach as other players surrounded him.

Nonetheless, Lewis did win the game's offensive MVP trophy and deservedly so for throwing three touchdown passes and completing well over 50% of his throws for 267 yards.

The final play of the game was enough to age an opposing coach 30 years and Johnson Smith coach Steven Aycock was no exception.

“ It was just too much to deal with , to tell you the truth,” he told INSIDE after the win. “ I’ve come down off of that but knowing the type of kids we have, I knew we would pull it out.”

“Once we took the lead ( in the third period), I felt like all we had to do was keep pouring it on them.” said freshman quarterback Keahn Wallace, the JCSU's game MVP, He scored three rushing touchdowns and passed for 59 yards. “ The coach (in the press box) saw that (we could run against them). He said they couldn’t stop the run . Then when they did stop the run, we would hit them with a pass.”

It was Johnson C Smith’s second trip to the Pioneer. In 2006, the Golden Bulls lost Pioneer IX to Tuskegee 17-7.

“ When I first took this job,  I knew it would be a process,” said Aycock, the 1994 Savannah State graduate in his third year as JC Smith’s head football Coach. “ I knew where they had come from and where we needed to go. I believe in these kids and our program. So, hopefully this win will [be] one of our stepping blocks.”

The JC Smith win was the first time that the CIAA has won the Pioneer Bowl in back-to-back years. The SIAC still leads the series 9-4.

XTRA POINTS: While in New Orleans a fortnight ago, we picked up some scuttlebutt about a major coaching change comng within the SWAC. Few details have come forward if its true….
My mention of former “Jena 6” defendant Mychal Bell being a member of Southern’s football team got me an email from Grambling’s Doug Williams. He too has one of those six young men from Jena Louisiana on his roster. The roster lineup has him listed as #81, Robert Bailey. I assume by his number he is a wide receiver. The roster list I had offered few other details….

SIAC Commissioner Greg Moore told INSIDE he was pleased with the outcome of the conference’s first football championship. He hopes to move the 2012 game to Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta’s newly refurbished high school field. He says there is also the possibility the game will be played at Morris Brown’s Herndon Stadium. Persistent scuttlebutt has Chick-Fil-A sinking money into returning the facility to its state- of-the-art status a few years back before vandals wrecked the place….

My pick for the SWAC championship this weekend in Birmingham between Grambling and Alabama A&M? I’m going with Anthony Jones and the Bulldogs. They beat Grambling at Grambling during the regular season….

Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net

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