Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
5-0 Morehouse, 3-1 Tuskegee: Showdown in Columbus Ga October 9
According to Morehouse College’s 2010 Media Guide, the last time MLK’s alma mater could boast a 5-0 start was 1930. The Marooners knocked off Allen (32-0), Knoxville (19-13) Benedict (25-0), Johnson C Smith (32-7) and Miles (25-0) with the only blemish to that 9-1 season 80 years ago was a loss…..to Tuskegee….in game six.
Ironic, isn’t it, that over three-quarters of a century later, Morehouse’s elevens of 2010 face the same showdown situation their elders did.
Differences? Obviously, the Morehouse team of ’30 was strong. Their defense held their opponents to 20 points while accumulating 133 of their own in the first five games.. That stat suggests balance on both sides of the ball.
Similarly, Rich Freeman’s elevens are equally balanced. Consider that for the first time in memory (at least my memory and that equates to 36 years covering AU Center sports), Morehouse can reach to their bench for players and get great production from them. A big example is Donnay Ragland, a red-shirt freshman quarterback from Paramount California. He led the Marooners to 390 offensive yards, rushed for 77 and a touchdown plus passed for another. He was named the SIAC’s newcomer of the week.
David Carter, a Morehouse walk-on, is averaging 125 rushing yards a game and has accumulated 627 total yards in five games.
Defensively, Morehouse is the conference sack leader and that’s because of three “headhunters”, Derrin Nettles, Charlie Wilson and Brian Cunningham who are ranked second, third and fourth in the conference behind leader Jacob Hardwick of Albany State.
Morehouse will cool their heels this weekend. They are idle but I have it on pretty good authority that their coaching staff won’t take the weekend off. They plan to be in “Death Valley”Alabama to watch the Goldens take on the Miles Bears. I am fairly sure Willie Slater will spend this week reminding his elevens that they got clipped 23-16 in game two of the 2009 season by Miles and warn them not to overlook them or settle back on their laurels just because Morehouse hasn’t beaten them since a 16-13 victory in 2003.
This year’s 75th Columbus (Ga) classic promises to be the one of the best on record.
Covering Morehouse’s game with visiting Lincoln of Missouri gave me an opportunity to chat with the latter’s second year Head Coach Nathan Cochran, the fourth coach the Blue Tigers have had since it restarted football in 1999.
Cochran, a graduate of South Carolina State, inherited a program that has won only 24 games in 11 years but hasn’t allowed that to damper his enthusiasm about the future of Lincoln. He has every reason to feel optimistic just based on their performance on the road against Morehouse.
The Tigers lost 30-14 but never laid down the whole 60 minutes.
“We were forced to go to our bench for this game but make no mistake about it, Lincoln is a great team.” Said Morehouse Head Coach Rich Freeman.
“We responded to Morehouse,”said Cochran. “We’re young but we got good players.”
Cochran is also boasted by assurances from school administrators they are beating the bushes for funds to increase Lincoln’s scholarship allocations which they will need. Come next year, the Blue Tigers will rejoin the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association, part of the mid-western conference’s expansion from 10 to 16 teams.
“We will need that extra boost to compete in this conference,” said Cochran. We really need to be as close to the 36 scholarships allowed to Division II schools as we can get. Our president is beating the bushes to make that happen.”
Lincoln will be the only HBCU in the MIAA.
“No excuses. We were outplayed.” That the simple explanation Florida A&M Head Coach Joe Taylor gave for their 29-18 loss to the “Big Blue” Tigers of Tennessee State University last Saturday in the 21st edition of the Atlanta Football Classic.
Conversely, TSU first year head coach Rod Reed made it clear that this wasn’t just another check in the win column.
“This was a huge football game for this program.” he said .
”I can’t say enough about their energy,” added Taylor.” They came to Atlanta determined to break that eight game losing string. Now , it’s a real rivalry.”
This year’s Atlanta Football Classic may have made a little history. The referee (white hat) was a female. She works for the MEAC which made additional history several years ago when a woman was part of an officiating crew for a game between Delaware State and Morris Brown College. It was a first for college football and actually predated Sarah Thomas, who is generally regarded as the lone female college referee.
This year’s Atlanta Classic (which started 21 years ago as the Ebony Classic) drew 54,202 fans, an increase of 2252 from 2009. That bodes well for the Atlanta chapter of 100 Black Men of America which uses proceeds to fund their Project Success effort. Members of 100-Atlanta mentor 9th graders, follow them through high school and provides them college scholarships. Their success stories since 1989 are numerous.
At Saturday’s games, one of their students showcased as a recent graduate from West Point….The idea of a football classic as a fundraiser for 100 chapters is catching on. The Southeastern and Valdosta Georgia chapters of the 100 sponsored the so called “rumble in the swamp” between Savannah State and Albany State Universities in Waycross , Georgia. The inaugural contest filled 9273 of the 12,000 seats at Memorial Stadium. ASU won the contest 28-14
THIS WEEK’S SIAC GAMES AND PICKS
Tuskegee over Miles-Tuskegee
Fort Valley over Benedict-Fort Valley, Ga (FV homecoming)
Clark-Atlanta over Stillman- Atlanta (CAU Homecoming)
Eastern Kentucky over Kentucky State- Richland, Ky.
Albany State over Lane-Albany Ga.