Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Football takes funny bounces for Albany State, Winston-Salem
Last weekend, both Albany State and Winston Salem State suffered from the old sports adage about the “ball taking funny bounces.”
ASU, looking to repeat as champions of the SIAC,lost the battle of the lead and succumbed to Tuskegee 47-41 (bounce). 542 miles east of Montgomery Alabama in Durham North Carolina, WSSU fought back from a 14-7 deficit to take the lead only to lose it to Virginia State 21-17 (bounce). That wasn’t the only thing the Rams lost. It knocked them out of an opportunity to return to post-season play for the fourth consecutive time.
In only their second year of eligibility for the NCAA Division II playoffs, the Golden Tigers are back into the post-season and will also host round one against the Wolves of the University of West Georgia. Last year, in their first post-season appearance since dropping their annual Thanksgiving Day game with Alabama State, the Goldens were edged 30-27 by North Alabama.
The Tigers enter the playoffs this weekend after wrestling with a determined ASU football program for bragging rights as champions of the SIAC for two years straight.
The two hungry elevens exchanged leads several times in the contest before 7193 shivering fans at Montgomery Alabama’s Cramton Bowl.
The fourth quarter became the most dramatic 3:09 of the entire game. The lead see-sawed back and forth from the start of the final stanza: ASU 34-31 at 7:23-Tuskegee 38-34 at 4:26-Albany State 41-38 at 1:42.
Then, from their own 36 yard line with 1:42 remaining in the game and trailing, Tuskegee launched a 64 yard drive that ended with a three yard rush to the end zone by senior Michael Thornton. Then the ensuing kickoff to Albany was muffed and ended up in the end zone for a two point Tuskegee safety. That forced Albany State to free kick the ball back to Tuskegee who then smothered it to preserve the win and hand the Goldens their second championship of the four game series. The SIAC west now leads the championship series 3-1.
This is the fourth trip to the Division II playoffs for UWG and their second since 1998 when they lost to Carson-Newman 28-24. Before then, they succumbed to Carson-Newman in 1996, 1995, then in 1990 to Catawba. The Wolves have faced SIAC opponents 25 times since they brought football back to the campus in 1981 and hold a 20-5 advantage in the series.
Kickoff for round one of the NCAA Division II tournament is scheduled for noon Saturday.
XTRA POINTS: I agree with my friend and Onnidan colleague Lut Williams in expressing disappointment with officialdom of the CIAA in failing to publicize and ban any media from this year’s annual athletic awards banquet Last year, an incident involving Virginia State and Winston Salem derailed the banquet, forced the CIAA to cancel the championship game and doomed the annual Pioneer Bowl when the conference dropped out. Yes, it was embarrassing for the conference but I think the CIAA missed a golden opportunity to bury the unfortunate incident for good by using that same media to express their regrets but pointing out the steps they have taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again…There are two openings for HBCU head coaches at Lane and Prairie View. I have a candidate in mind for either post. Keith Higdon is current assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Tuskegee. He has been a valuable asset to the Goldens since leaving the confines the Clark-AU (he was interim coach for a minute. Letting him go was a major mistake for the Panthers). The trouble will be getting him off the Skegee campus……..
Tuskegee hosting West Georgia - Tuskegee by 10
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