Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Clark-AU sweats but hangs on to beat homecoming opponent Stillman
Clark-AU’s Daryl McNeill was probably college football’s most nervous head coach the last 1:38 of his homecoming game against the Tigers of Stillman College Saturday, October 3, which drew 17,893 mostly partisans.. After leading the contest 12-0 through most of the fourth quarter, the Panthers got the “boo-boo flu”, allowing Stillman to score two cheap touchdowns and take a 14-12 lead.
McNeill was likely reminded by more than one alum or administrator that the Panthers were embarrassed last year by Kentucky State which is what was thought led to the axing of his predecessor Ted Bahhur.
“I was ready to back up the truck and start getting my boxes ready,” mused McNeill to INSIDE following the 19-14 victory . “It’s tough losing homecoming and would have been worst if we’d lost like this.”
McNeill had hoped to repeat the offensive performance he got from his elevens, even in a losing effort, against the University of Arkansas –Pine Bluff. In lieu, the offense returned to its inconsistent ways and again was forced to rely on their defense for five of their first 12 points of the contest. They were also responsible for committing one of the two turnovers that allowed Stillman to score.
With time running out, however, the offense grabbed some life. Taking the oval from their own seven, CAU quarterback Ronald Thompson led the team on a 97 yard drive, aided by two big Stillman penalties and a 31 yard pass from Thompson to running back Winston Thompson which placed the pigskin at the Tiger one yardline. After yet another Stillman penalty, Ronald Thompson punched it in the end zone from the half-yard line.
CAU wasn’t through sweating yet.
In what looked like a CAU on-side attempt on the ensuing kick, Stillman pounced on the oval at the CAU 38. Stillman got three tries to pass their way into the end zone but failed as time ran out.
“We had a chance to win, “ said Stillman head coach LC Cole. We played hard but toward the end, they exploited two young freshman cornerbacks we were playing. Our defense was able to force two CAU turnovers we turned into touchdowns. Our defense played an outstanding game. We just came up short at the end.”
I’m hearing that the organizers of this year’s 75th Morehouse-Tuskegee football classic in Columbus Georgia this weekend are getting more than passing interest in the game (media credentials, I am told, are at a premium this year). I can understand the heightened interest. Dig this. Morehouse is coming to this game with more muscle than they have had in the past. They have a dynamite first-tier passer in transfer Byron Ingram and can reach to their bench for help in the spot, Their running back core is healthy and led by sophomore David Carter who is the SIAC’s leading rusher and 13th in NCAA Division II, The Marooners are also numero uno in conference sacks and ranked 4th nationally.
Unless both Tuskegee coach Willie Slater and Morehouse Coach Rich Freeman are dumber than they look, they have repeatedly reminded their elevens this week of some things amid practicing the Xs and Os.
First, Freeman should emphasis to his team that the last time they were 5-0 was 1930. And like their 80 year elders, their streak came to a halt by..Tuskegee.
Slater is probably reminding his Goldens that beating Morehouse the last 6 years means nothing. “Skegee comes into the game with a 4-1 overall and 3-1 conference mark with their only loss this year a rather embarrassing 34-6 drubbing from Albany State on their own turf. Tuskegee fans don’t relish losing, especially on their own soil and are hardly crazy about losing to Morehouse. Both teams will climb in the AFCA Division II, SBN and D2.com polls if they win the game.
In 75 years of play, Tuskegee leads the series 50-19 with 5 ties. Tuskegee also holds the largest single-game winning margin. In 1966, the Goldens destroyed Morehouse 93-0 (when the score was published in the Atlanta Daily World the next day, most folks thought it a misprint). Morehouse has beaten Tuskegee by 20 twice in 75 years. In 1953, they beat them 32-12 and 26-6 in 1984 (source, Morehouse 2010 media Guide).
By now, most of you visitors to this page know that Bill Joe has resigned his post as Miles College head football coach for health reasons (or so he says). Joe hit the Fairfield Alabama, campus amid a lot of fanfare and promise because of his experiences at Central State, FAMU and his pro experience with the Buffalo Bills. But his first year started out badly when he learned that more than half his players had to be benched because of ineligibility. He wound up finishing 2-8.
2009 turned out to be little better. Miles finished 3-7 but one of those wins was a major 23-16 upset of Tuskegee. So far this year, the Bears have compiled a 2-4 mark. And this year, Miles played Tuskegee in “Death Valley” and received a sledgehammer response to 2009 with a 51-0 drubbing.
I imagine a loss like that is enough to make anybody sick! As for a replacement, the school has started a national search but I think that’s hardly necessary. Joe’s replacement is as close as Selma, Alabama and Concordia head coach Shepherd Skanes. In six seasons, Skanes has amassed a 19-34 mark which isn’t shabby considering he has only five scholarships to work with . I can only imagine what he might do with ,say, four times that many. Skanes resides in Birmingham and daily commutes the 97 miles to work. Talk about dedication!
The CAU athletic boosters club put on the d-o-g at this year’s 20th homecoming breakfast. Usually, they take the opportunity of the breakfast to add more names to their athletic hall of fame. This year, the inductions were tabled and the entire breakfast was dedicated to former head coach, Athletic Director, administrator and motivator Leonidas S Epps, the last of the so called “iron men” who at one point in his 34 year career, was head coach over every sport on the campus.
Many of his former players attended and offered glowing testimony and even a few good natured quips . One of them was Eugene Walker, a former member of the Georgia State senate who recalls being plucked from under a truck at a service station in his native Thomaston, Georgia. He had resolved to become the best service station mechanic and use his salary to support his grandmother.
“Coach Epps came down to talk to me and pulled me from under the truck.. He offered me a full scholarship to come to Clark but I told him no thanks. He said he would return for my final answer. I told my grandmother about it and she asked me when I was leaving. I told her what I told Epps and she said if I didn’t accept when he came back, I’d have to find somewhere else to live. My answer changed when Epps returned and it was the best advice I ever got. Coach Epps put me on the first fence post of my life.”
The booster club also donated $25,000 toward the athletic program. Lowell Dickerson, president of CAABA, said they want to make sure that today’s student/athletes “enjoy the same success we did,”
This week's games and picks
Kentucky State over Central State-Wilberforce Ohio (CSU Homecoming)
Benedict over Lane-Jackson Tenn.
Albany State over Miles-Albany Ga (ASU homecoming)
Fort Valley over CAU-Atlanta
Morehouse over Tuskegee-Columbus Georgia