Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
ATLANTA- There is a new sheriff in the 13 team Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Tuskegee came to Atlanta’s Lakewood Stadium Saturday, November 10, sporting an 8-1 mark and flexed its offensive and defensive muscle to defeat the Fort Valley State Wildcats 55-24 to become the second “true” conference champ.
The game was played before a crowd of 8,377, 2,003 more than the 2011 crowd of 6,384. That, at least in the mind of this columnist, is a clear indication that the conference championship game is moving in the right direction.
The 55-24 outcome was the most lopsided score in the brief history of the conference championship. In 2011, Miles scored an 11th hour field goal to defeat Albany State 20-17. It was Tuskegee that knocked Miles out of a return trip to Atlanta when they beat the Bears 27-17 on Miles’ campus in Fairfield Alabama November 3.
Tuskegee got a lot of help from Fort Valley which committed five turnovers, all of which Tuskegee took advantage of to score. Wildcat Antonio Henton got passes picked off three times which resulted in Tuskegee scores. Henton, a transfer from Ohio State, ended the evening completing 18 of his 38 passing attempts for 274 yards `Valley also, fumbled the oval in the second quarter and was forced to give up the ball on downs in the fourth when the Wildcats failed to convert on a 4th and 1 at Tuskegee’s 24.
Tuskegee, conversely , committed four “boo-boos” of their own, but Fort Valley was only able to convert on two of them.
Tuskegee’s offensive combination of sophomore quarterback Justin Nared and senior running back Derrick Washington, the 7th best rusher in Division II, accounted for three of Tuskegee’s eight scores. One of them was a crowd-pleasing 75 yard kickoff return to open the third quarter.
Tuskegee’s victory and their 9-1 overall finish will get them no further than a post-season trip to the 14th Pioneer Bowl in Columbus Georgia where they will take on the CIAA’s Elizabeth City Vikings, who lost their conference’s championship game last week to undefeated Winston Salem State. Because their final regular season against Alabama State Thanksgiving Day, the Golden Tigers don’t qualify for the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Fort Valley State, on the other hand, does qualify for the post-season. The Wildcats, who finished the season at 8-3, were also ranked 5th in the NCAA’s Super Region II poll. The sixth seeded Wildcats will take a five hour bus ride to Hickory, North Carolina Saturday to face 8-2 Lenoir Rhyne. The last time Fort Valley went to a playoff game was in 2001 when they lost to Valdosta State 40-24. For the host Bears, this will be their first trip to a post-season game in 50 years,
Meanwhile, Miles College which finished second in the same poll, will also enjoy post season play. The 5th seeded Golden Bears who finished at 8-2 will travel about an hour and a half down I-20/59 to face 4th seeded University of West Georgia (8-3) in Livingston Alabama. This is the first playoff berth for Miles.
In one other SIAC game over the weekend, Stillman College hung on to defeat Concordia-Selma at Stillman’s homecoming which drew only 750 people.
XTRA POINTS-This is not an SIAC event but it intrigues me nonetheless. Saturday, the Bulldogs of Alabama A&M willtravel to Auburn, Alabama to face Auburn. Now, ordinarily I would join the hallelujah chorus of fans on both sides of the race fence who wouldn’t give Anthony Jones’ Dogs a snowball in hell’s chance of winning this game. This time, however, I’m not so sure. Think a minute. A&M is going to Auburn with a conference mark of 6-3 and an overall of 7-3. Auburn, on the other hand, is 2-8 overall and 0-7 in the SEC. Their home record is 2-4. A&M is 3-2., A&M is also 6-3 in the SWAC and 4-1 on the road. And remember, Auburn has to face top ranked Alabama the very next weekend. This is the final game of the season for A&M. (Usually, these games are scheduled in the first part of the season) Based on what I know about Jones, a former Morehouse College head coach who brought the ‘House back to back winning seasons in the alpha of the 21st century, don’t be surprised at all what comes out of Auburn when the dust settles November 17th……….
I found a comment by West Alabama head coach Will Hall interesting as he commented on this week’s playoff game against Miles. Quoting from the West Alabama web site uwaathletics, com, he said,” I can’t remember the Gulf South conference champ ever being seeded as low as number 4 (Miles is seeded 5th) but the positive side is we get to host Miles this weekend on our campus”? Wonder what he meant by that. Hmm….
I noticed in the statistical category of total defense in the NCAA’s Division II, six SIAC colleges are in the top 30. They are Tuskegee (9), Miles (13), Lane (20), Clark-Atlanta (21, Kentucky State (23), and Morehouse (28)…
While in Birmingham a fortnight ago to cover ‘Skegee and Miles, Patsy and I stayed at the Hyatt Place-Birmingham. I agree with other reviewers that the hotel is a fine place with great staff. I’d stay there again but check first to make sure they have shut off the outside sprinkler system. Water was everywhere and I got my pants soaked trying to get to my car!!
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS
Miles over University of West Ga.-noon, Livingston Alabama
Ft Valley over Lenoir-Rhyne-noon, Hickory . North Carolina
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net