Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
BIRMINGHAM, Ala—The 32,480 fans who trekked to Birmingham Alabama’s Legion Field on Saturday, December 8 for the 14th playing of the football championship game of the 10 team Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) can honestly say got their money’s worth. The Golden Lions of the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff fought back from a 21-7 deficit to score 14 points in the second period and seven more in the fourth plus an overtime field goal to surprise the Jackson State Tigers 24-21.
The real key to victory notwithstanding the winning field goal in OT was the 95 yard touchdown pass from UAPB quarterback Ben Anderson to wide receiver Willie Young that tied the score at 21 and threw the contest into extra innings.
“I knew Willie was the fastest man on the team,” said Anderson, the game’s offensive MVP, “ so I just threw it out there to him. I was knocked down but I heard the fans screaming. I wasn’t sure if it was ours or theirs. Then I saw all my teammates running toward the end zone so I got up and ran with them” Another game changer came with four seconds remaining in the first half when linebacker Bill Ross scooped up what officials called a fumble and raced 73 yards for the Lions second touchdown, allowing UAPB to close the Jackson State lead to 7 .
“We actually thought it was a forward pass but the officials said it was a lateral pass and a fumble,” said a disappointed Tiger head coach Rick Comegy, a former head coach for Tuskegee of the SIAC. “ I think we gave the game away,” he continued. I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you but express my true feelings on it. They (UAPB) played well but I think we gave them two touchdowns early.”
One significant handicap for Jackson State was the partial loss of starting quarterback Clayton Moore who suffered a shoulder injury In the first half which hampered his throwing ability. He was eventually replaced late in the game with senior Dedric McDonald.
It was a big victory for UAPB in more ways than one. It was their first ever conference championship since joining the SWAC in 1997, the same year they qualified for NCAA Division I status. Their 95 yard run from scrimmage in the fourth period was the longest in the history of the game. It also redeemed the Lions from a stormy chapter of theirpast. In 1991, UAPB, then a member of theNational Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) was hit with the governing organization’s so called “death penalty” which put their athletic program on hold for two years. The program was revived in 1993 by the school’s Athletic Director, WO Clemmons who was posthumously inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame December 6th of this year.
This was the fourth trip to the SWAC’s big dance for Jackson State, which includes the first game played in 1999 when they lost 31-30 to Southern University. Their record is now 1-4.
SIAC BASKETBALL: Although the 2012-13 season is in its infancy, early non-conference play for the teams finds defending conference champ (and favored to repeat) Benedict currently (as of December 9) leading the conference’s eastern division with a 4-3 mark and Miles leading the west at 3-3. Morehouse is 5th in the east with a 1-5 spot with CAU bringing up the rear in the division at 0-5. Morehouse’s next home game is January 5 when they host Tuskegee at 7:30pm.
CAU has one final game of this month on December 29 when they visit Shorter College in Rome Ga. They will return to Atlanta January 3 to face LeMoyne-Owen.
In women’s action, Lonnie Bartley’s Fort Valley lady Wildcats, favored to repeat as conference champs, is in first place at 2-2 ( as of December 9), but CAU’s lady fives, predicted to finish second , is right behind the Wildcats at 3-4. The ladies begin the conference run January 3 by hosting Lemoyne –Owen, then returning to Epps Gym two days later to face the lady Dragons of Lane College. ……… XTRA POINTS: The ten football playing colleges of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) performed well enough during the 2012 regular season to rank among the top 30 nationally in statistical categories.
One athlete, Fort Valley’s Deron Furr ranked number one in tackles for loss. The 6-3 junior from Columbus Georgia had 24 solo tackles for loss.
In the NCAA’s fumble recovery category, linebacker Brenard Williams of Clark-Atlanta University ranked second. The 5-11 sophomore from Omega Ga.in Tifton County recovered four wandering ovals during the regular season. Another AUC talent, Morehouse’s Thomas Williams, finished second in the nation in kickoff returns. The 5-10 junior running back from Knightdale North Carolina accumulated 449 yards and returned one for a touchdown.
David Carter, the Morehouse senior flash from Marietta’s Sprayberry High School whose injuries mid-season prevented his achieving the stats he piled up in 2011, nonetheless finished in the national stats. He was 31st among Division II rushers with 841 total yards and also finished 12th in scoring, averaging 9.7 points per game. Tuskegee senior Derrick Washington, the SIAC’s leading rusher for 2012, was ranked seventh nationally with 1679 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Other national rankings involving SIAC schools:
Justin Rosenbaum-Fort Valley- (9)
Quavan Taylor-Tuskegee (20)
Carlos Ware-Kentucky State (18)
Quintory Braswell, Albany State (5)
Dexter Moody-Albany State (3)
Corey Jones-Lane College (5)
In addition, three SIAC schools finished in the top ten in the NCAA’s so called Super two region. Miles finished second with an 8-2 conference and 8-3 overall, Fort Valley finished 5 th with a 7- 2/8-2 mark and Albany State was ninth with a 6-4 conference and overall……
I appreciate the security that surrounded the SWAC championship game. It made me feel comfortable but the process does need tweaking. First, there was the puzzling “lockdown” of the playing field after the game, which coupled with the turtle-slow elevator from the press box, didn’t allow many of us to get to the gate and into the press conference area despite our being properly adorned with media badges, And some of Birmingham’s finest could have been a bit more polite when visitors asked for directions to the interstate…..
By the way, a sister-in-law of mine who accompanied me and Patsy to the Bayou Classic a fortmight ago sat in the stands and said vendors were charging $7 for a can of soda. C’mon man!!!!!....I had to be impressed with the number of RVs, vans and mobile trailers in Birmingham last week. Never seen so many in all my days………
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net