Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
First the good news. Although dropping from #1 to #2 in the Super 2 Division II regional standings of the NCAA, Miles still has an excellent shot at making the D-2 playoffs and even a shot at hosting round one. Reggie Ruffin’s elevens finished the regular season at 8-2.
Now the bad news.
The Bears won’t get the chance to defend their SIAC title by virtue of their 27-17 loss last weekend to Tuskegee in Fairfield, Alabama on Miles campus just a few throws from downtown Birmingham.
The 15,791 fans who crammed every vacant seat and plot of land at Albert Sloan Stadium (and I DO mean crammed. The stadium was built to seat 8,500) watched a great game where the lead jumped back and forth from the Bear to the Tiger until the third quarter. That’s when Tuskegee sophomore quarterback Justin Nared ended a 72-yard drive in the third period with a 47-yard TD strike to sophomore wide out Larry Cobb to break the 14-14 halftime deadlock to move ahead by 7. A subsequent drive by Miles ended at the Tuskegee 6 when senior quarterback David Thomas fumbled. Miles defense kept Tuskegee from cashing in and handed the oval back to their offense at their own six yard line. The Bears then ate up 8:08 of clock and marched 82 yards to the Tuskegee nine but were stalled by the Tiger defense and forced to settle for a 29 yard field goal by Patton Chambers.
Perhaps the Bears consumed TOO much clock. Tuskegee then went on a marathon drive of their own, marching 82 yards and taking 8:23 of the scoreboard but managed to score six on a one yard plug by Nared. Miles got the ball back but only had 1:56 to work with. The drive started at their own 31 but in four plays could only move the oval a collective one yard before time ran out.
The leading rusher for both teams was Tuskegee senior Derrick Washington, a transfer from the University of Missouri who rushed for 208 yards but scored none of the school’s four touchdowns. He had a hand, a BIG hand, however, in setting up all of them. Admittedly to the untrained eye, it would seem peculiar that the Tigers would have so much success on the ground against the SIAC’s number one defense. But not to Ruffin.
“Number one, we had some guys banged up,“ he told INSIDE. “Tuskegee did have an open week to rest up, heal. We played straight through and everybody knew that. We’ve really been banged up from day one and duct-taping here and there.”
”We really came in thinking we could pass and run against them,” said Tuskegee’s Washington. “But the rushing game was working for us so we stuck with that.”
Meanwhile, over in Columbus Georgia, Fort Valley and Albany State were battling it out in the 22nd Fountain City Classic with the Wildcats winning 38-20 . Wildcat head coach Donnie Pittman’s secret weapon (actually, it’s not THAT big a secret) was senior quarterback Antonio Henton who threw for three touchdowns and passed 253 yards. This win will likely be cherished for Fort Valley for some time to come. Notwithstanding it won them a post-season trip to Atlanta, it was also only the second time the Wildcats have knocked the horns off the Ram since 2000.
ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: Morehouse saw their franchise running back David Carter having his best performance of the season as he scored five times and rushed for 186 yards to help the Marooners crush Kentucky State 55-7. The five touchdowns tied a Morehouse record with former gridder Andrew Smith who accomplished the same feat in 1968 (44 years before). Senior linebacker Brandon Houston ended his Morehouse grid career on a high note with 12 tackles and scored one of Morehouse’s eight TDs via an interception. The only downside, perhaps , of the season-ending win was that at 3-7, it was the first losing season suffered by Morehouse Head Coach Richard Freeman since the native Atlantan and Tennessee State grad took over the program in 2007….Clark-AU , meanwhile, remained consistent. On September 1, the Panthers lost both their home and season opener 44-0 to West Alabama. On Saturday, November 2, the Panthers lost their season finale 37-12 to the Stillman Tigers thanks to at least three turnovers and the strong performance of Stillman true freshman quarterback Joshua Straughan. The Tiger win ended a three game losing skid while the loss was the eighth straight for the Panthers who finish out at 2-8. Fortunately, their two wins this season allows them to escape finishing in last place in the SIAC’s eastern division and having the worst won-loss in the whole conference. That fate appears reserved for Kentucky State of the SIAC West which didn’t win a division or conference tilt and only one overall game with a finale set for November 17 against the Marauders of Central State of Ohio (the SIAC’s newest member as of next season)….. Lane College won its fifth game of the season 38-21 to finish the season with a .500 record, their best since their 8-3 seasons of 2006 and 2007 which featured wide receiver Jacoby Jones, now a record setting wide receiver and kickoff-punt returner for the Baltimore Ravens…
XTRA POINTS: Inside Atlanta was the loser of a friendly wager between myself and INSIDE’s Tuskegee correspondent Julius Royals. I bet Royals, a 1982 Tuskegee grad, that I would wear a Tuskegee shirt if they beat Miles and he would wear a Miles shirt if Miles won. Guess who lost?
THIS WEEK’s GAMES AND PICKS
STILLMAN over Concordia-Selma-Tuscaloosa Alabama ( Stillman’s homecoming)
FOR THE SIAC CHAMPIONSHIP
TUSKEGEE over Ft. Valley-Atlanta-Lakewood Stadium-Kickoff 8pm-(the game will be carried nationally by CSS-TV)
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net