Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Big Stakes at 25th Atlanta Football Classic this weekend
There is a lot at stake at this weekend’s 25th Atlanta Football Classic of the Atlanta chapter of 100 Black Men of America and it goes far beyond the bands, the parades, the halftime show and all the other frills routinely associated with this annual gridiron “do.”
First, 2013 marks the first time in the history of the Classic that two teams from the same conference will collide on the gridiron of the Georgia Dome. Both North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State are members of the 44 year old Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Aggies under Rod Broadway want to leave Atlanta after October 5th with their undefeated string still intact, their first place ranking among the 13 schools solid (for now) and their first place ranking in most of the celebrated SBN, BoxtoRow, HSRN AND d2football.com polls firmly in place. Conversely, South Carolina State Head Coach Buddy Pough has pledged to improve the Bulldogs from their forgettable 5-6 record, in 2012, their first losing season since going 3-8 in 2000. A conference win over the Aggies would push their total to 2-0 in the MEAC and 4-2 overall and should vault them into first place in the conference if for only a fleeting moment.
I honestly think that this year, fans who flock to Atlanta from Greensboro and Orangeburg and a sprinkling of local yokels will have eyes glued to the playing field the entire 60 minutes. By the way, this is only the sixth game in the 25 year history of the classic that one or both teams come to town undefeated. Only in the 2001 classic did the two teams participating (Tennessee State and FAMU) both come to town with unblemished records. And consider this; In three of the five other times, the team that came to town undefeated wound up winning the ball game.
Now chew on that a little.
I am a little shaky about the turnout for this 25th contest. Unless I missed something, I haven’t heard the kind of hoopla I would associate with the 25th birthday of a game like this and I didn’t see the promotional push I have seen in past contests. This is the first trip to the classic by the Aggies. South Carolina State has been here six times, five between 1991 and 1995 and their final in 1997. Tennessee State’s quarterback in that game was Leon Murray, now offensive coordinator for Atlanta’s Morehouse College…….
While SCSU and NC A&T duke it out at the Dome, the two football playing schools of the Atlanta University Center will square off just a few blocks away. What may be the most significant game for both Clark-AU (0-3) and Morehouse College (2-2) in memory will be played this coming Saturday when the two AU Center rivals collide at Bertram T Harvey Stadium at 7:30pm.
The Panthers, under first year pilot Kevin Weston are badly seeking their first win under his watch and Morehouse Head man Richard Freeman is looking to extend his two game win streak to three and with it his first eastern division and conference victory plus challenge current leader Fort Valley (2-0,2-2).
While CAU enjoyed an idle weekend, Morehouse evened its won-loss at 2-2 with a 28-26 win over visiting Edward Waters College of Jacksonville Florida.
It was no snap.
The game was characterized by one nail-biting moment late in the fourth period and after many of the 7500 in attendance had headed for the exits.
Morehouse had built a 28-5 lead in the first half largely on the back of redshirt senior running back Thomas “TJ” Williams who rushed for 135 yards in the half and scored three of Morehouse’s four touchdowns. Whether the elevens rested on their hunches in the second half is debatable but what EWC did is not. The Florida Tigers shut out the Marooners 21-0 with all of the touchdowns coming in the fourth period. Their offensive efforts were led by redshirt sophomore Ray Dukes, who rushed for 135 yards and was on the receiving end of a pass from freshman quarterback Taron Williams. EWC’s defense, coached by former Bethune Cookman University head coach Alvin Wyatt, , stopped Morehouse on a 4th and 2 with 38 seconds to go in the contest. “I wanted to punt the ball away but my coaching staff thought we ought to try and run out more clock and give the offense a chance to get the first down,” said Morehouse head coach Rich Freeman, who’s look after the response indicated he wished he had that decision to make all over again. Then, EWC attempted a drive of its own starting at the 35. Two passes later, the Tigers had the oval at the Morehouse 43. “We knew they weren’t a throwing offense,” said Freeman. “ So we kind of thought it was our advantage once they started putting the ball in the air.” He was right. On Williams’ third passing attempt, he was intercepted by freshman Joshua Anderson which effectively ended the game and brought the remaining partisans to their collective feet. “It scared me because I knew they had a great field goal kicker,” said Freeman.
The loss by EWC was their fifth consecutive. Head coach Brad Bernard, in his
ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: Tuskegee outscored Lane 27-0 in the second half to beat the Dragons 42-14…..Central State trailed Tennessee State 28-0 and the Tigers allowed Central State only six points in the whole game en-route to a 73-6 shellacking of the Marauders at the annual Gateway Classic in St Louis Missouri……Marcus Graham’s 293 passing yards and three touchdowns was not enough for Benedict to beat Fort Valley 35-30. It was the second straight victory for Donnie Pittman’s Wildcats……..Miles led throughout their game versus Albany State and withstood a comeback attempt by the Rams to win 22-14….Stillman overcame a 14-0 Kentucky State lead at the half and scored three times in the last 10 minutes of the game to defeat Kentucky State 26-21.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES AND PICKS
Kentucky State over Alderson-Broaddus
Miles over Benedict
Lane over Stillman
Tuskegee over Fort Valley
Morehouse over Clark-AU
Last week’s predictions outcome: 4 right, 2 wrong
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net