Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
The ‘Skegee mystique against Mo’House continues: Goldens 31, Marooners 15
COLUMBUS, Ga.-I’ve covered the Atlanta University Center sports programs for 37 years. I’ve peered in the faces of past head men like Morris Brown’s Cass Jackson, the late Lambert “Ax Handle” Reed, Greg Thompson and Solomon Brannen, Morehouse pilots Michael Gray, Maurice “Mo” Hunt and Clark-AU former head coaches Leonidas Epps, Jesse McClardy, Willie Hunter, Curtis Crockett, Ted Bahhur and Daryll McNeil . On more than one occasion, I saw the disappointment written all over their faces following a loss that they truly felt they should have won.
But I have to say I have never seen a coach as depressed as Morehouse’s Rich Freeman following the 31-15 loss to Tuskegee on Saturday afternoon, October 9 at the 75th annual Morehouse-Tuskegee Classic in Columbus. He sat alone just outside his team’s locker room and seemed to be contemplating where he went wrong.
Despite his disappointment, he was candid and forthcoming when I began peppering him with questions.
“This is the worst special teams outing we’ve had and I’ll have to take blame because I am also the special teams coordinator .We just couldn’t get things going offensively. But my hat is off to Tuskegee. They came in this game well prepared.”
Well prepared, yes, but no more prepared than for any other game on their schedule, said “aw shucks” Tuskegee Head Coach Willie Slater.
“We go one game at a time,” he said.
Morehouse head coach Rich Freeman begged to differ some.
“They knew everything about us and that’s my fault. We came in conservative because we didn’t want to make mistakes. We ended up making mistakes and being predictable.”
Well, so was Tuskegee and nobody knew that better than Freeman. After Morehouse won the toss, received and went 4-0 on their first possession Tuskegee took the oval, got a great punt return and wound up with the ball at the MH 43, On their first play from scrimmage, they went for the end zone(predictably) and got to the seven yard line. Then star running back Nykeem Barton scored the first of his three touchdowns from the 7.
“Tuskegee has done that to us each of the four years I’ve been coach ,” said Freeman.
Barton . who rushed for 71 yards and took offensive MVP honors, said the team did buckle down and study Morehouse, knowing a team that was 5-0 would not be easy to beat.
“We knew we were playing a good team this year,” Barton told INSIDE. We studied hard and committed ourselves to executing.”
Despite the victory, neither team dominated the other statistically. . In fact, Morehouse out-rushed ‘Skegee 81 to 65 yards (net) and out-converted the Goldens on third downs 2 of 3 to 1 of 1. Unfortunately, the Marooners also led in penalties 73 to 15 yards and trailed in total offense 213 to 315.
Yet, the one loss hasn’t appeared to dampen the spirits of the Morehouse elevens. Charlie Wilson, the senior linebacker whose four solo tackles and near two sacks earned him defense MVP honors, said the team cannot cry over spilled milk.
“We didn’t carry out the Morehouse philosophy of hard fast and smart so what we do now is work hard for Stillman and win the rest of the season.”
That, if it happens, would follow the exact same pattern of Morehouse’s 1930 team, the first to go 5-0. Their sixth loss was to Tuskegee. After that, the team won its remaining four games and finished out at 9-1.
If the “House” gets help from Fort Valley who plays Tuskegee this week, can upset Albany State (MH’s homecoming foe) and count on the Wildcats to up-end the Rams at the November Fountain City Classic in Columbus, the Marooners could well end up in the playoffs as a conference rep or an at-large pick. Time will tell
Two familiar faces are now coaches for Tuskegee. Jacary Atkinson, who just a scant few years ago led Tuskegee to a national title as their jack-be nimble quarterback, is coaching the wide receivers while former CAU interim head coach Keith Higdon rejoined the staff as offensive line coach.
The city of Columbus, Georgia is getting over like a fat rat this year. The Morehouse-Tuskegee classic attracted a near SRO crowd at 15,000 seat AJ McClung Stadium. In less than a month, Albany and Valley will return to Columbus for the Fountain City and then the city will play host to the Pioneer Bowl on December 4.
‘ROUND THE CONFERENCE: Last year, Kentucky State’s head coach Wayne Dickens made it clear following his victory over CAU that they don’t fancy being everyone’s homecoming mat and intended to do something about it, This year, they did, traveling to Wilberforce Ohio as the homecoming opponent for Central State and whipping them 41-24…….
Fort Valley didn’t forget what Clark-AU did to them last year which spoiled the debut of new coach Donnie Pittman and ruined the grand opening of their new stadium. To show they have minds like elephants, the coaching staff stepped onto CAU field here in Atlanta outfitted in in gold-trimmed T-shirts with the initials MUFLY (make up from last year). This sounds like a plan cooked up by my good friend and FV SID Charles Ward. This year, they made sure the game was out of reach of any overtime drama and beat the Panthers 40-16….
Lane is bound and determined to win at least one game this season and leave Stillman all alone in the conference basement . They battled Benedict to a 23-23 tie but lost it in overtime 30-23…...
Albany State welcomed interim Miles Head Coach Patrick Peasant to the ranks by beating the Bears 30-7 on ASU’s homecoming. Again, I strongly suggest to Miles President French that he suspend looking under every rock in the country for Billy Joe’s replacement and bring in Concordia head man Shepherd Skanes who is 97 miles away in Selma and is already living in Birmingham.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS
Kentucky State over Clark-AU-Frankfort, Ky. ( KSU homecoming)
Lane over Miles-Jackson, Tenn.(Lane homecoming)
Albany State over Benedict-Columbia SC
Fort Valley over Tuskegee-Ft Valley, Ga.
Morehouse over Stillman-Atlanta