Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar, Morehouse College, TheSIAC.com
Clark AU basketball proved it is ready for 2010-2011(at least in my mind they are) by making a nervous wreck of the Rambling Wrecks of Georgia Tech, forcing them into overtime before escaping with a 71-68 victory.
Two Panthers INSIDE will watch this year are guards Najee Lane and David Brown. Lane was last year’s conference player of the year and the 20 points against Tech is an indication that he may remain at the top. Brown was named second team pre-season all conference and bucketed 24 points against Georgia Tech to lead all scorers.
I’m making a point of this game to illustrate the competitive nature of HBCUs and their ability to take on so called stiffer competition. I hear too many stories of black college teams signing on to play Division I clubs just to get a fat guarantee and often dismissing the thought of actually winning the contest. When I hear those discouraging remarks, I am reminded of FAMU and Miami in 1979, Grambling and Oregon in 1975 and App State and Michigan last season. President Barack Obama ‘s “Yes we can” campaign theme certainly applies here. CAU’s performance on August 5 is a testament to great play and moreover, great coaching. For the latter, INSIDE applauds Head Coach Daryl Jacobs and able assistants Errol Bennett and Marcus Harden.
THE COLUMBUS NAIL-BITER: Albany State quarterback Stanley Jennings, a Marietta Georgia native, made good on his boast before their game with Morehouse College back on October 23 that the Rams would not be defeated by anyone the rest of the year.
They did but it meant biting nails all the way up to the final whistle which is precisely what Jennings, head coach James “Mike” White, his staff, and a goodly number of Ram die-hards who made up the 23,966 who filled every available seat at Columbus Georgia’s AJ McClung Memorial Stadium. In the end, the Wildcats of Fort Valley State were forced to succumb 12-7 in a game that began as a largely boring defensive battle and ended a white-knuckle finish in the fourth period.
Edythe Bradley, the long time sports information director for ASU, admitted that she barely saw the final 36 seconds of play that turned out to be the most intense. “ I closed my eyes,” she mused. But through the cracks in her fingers, she saw what everybody else did.
With the game seemingly on ice, Fort Valley’s defense forced Albany to punt away. Sophomore free safety Dajuan Williams broke through the Albany offensive line and blocked the kick, giving the Wildcats 1st and 10 at the Ram 11. Valley had only one option with the possession; go for six. An incomplete pass on second down and a holding call moved the line of scrimmage to the 21 . Then a second incompletion in the drive by Valley starting quarterback Eugene Smith led to a final desperation play. Smith’s pass was complete to the Albany 10 but too little, too late. Fort Valley’s attempt to return to post-season play for the first time since 2001 had failed.
The fierceness of this annual mix between these two south Georgia grid dynamos was evident in the sack totals. Although Jennings threw for 103 yards and two touchdowns, he was sacked six times. Smith, who threw for 98 yards, was sacked four.
To the surprise of most fans at the game last Saturday, the two teams went to their locker rooms at halftime tied a 0-0. That ice was broken midway the third quarter when Emmanuel Williams recovered an Albany fumble and raced 29 yards into the end zone. Two minutes and some change later, Albany scored their first points on an 8 yard pass from Jennings to Ronnie Childs. The PAT was missed but Jennings repeated his throwing magic again to Childs for 53 yards in the fourth period which gave the Rams the lead.
The victory for ASU allowed the Rams to finish with an unblemished regular season tally of 10-0 and a sure-spot in the Division II playoffs,. something White’s boys haven’t done since they ran the table in 2004.Like 2010,the Rams also finished first in the NCAA’s so called “super” region two which afforded them home field advantage for most of the playoff picture. It was short-lived however, as ASU beat their first round opponent Arkansas Tech 42-24 but then strangely lost to second round foe Valdosta State. The Rams went into the locker room with a commanding 24-0 lead but then allowed the visiting Blazers to score 38 unanswered points in the second half and lost 38-24.
MOREHOUSE PLAYOFF HOPES STILL ALIVE: The Morehouse Maroon Tigers may yet enjoy a second season for the first time school history.. After narrowly missing last year when the final region standings gave the nudge to West Alabama, head coach Rich Freeman said one of their goals for 2010 was to make certain they would make the six team cut off. As of the date of this writing, the Tigers were sixth among the top 10 regional teams. Their 13-3 victory last weekend over Miles College on the road didn’t hurt that standing. Whether or not it helps will depend on the final rankings due out November 14.Fort Valley is currently ranked seventh but the loss to Albany might drop them out of consideration. But Morehouse will have to hold their breaths and hope to get help from this weekend’s opponents for Valdosta State, Wingate, Catawba and North Alabama who are currently ranked ahead of them……
ROUND THE CONFERENCE: After a slow start, Benedict finished 2010 a winner by defeating Clark-Atlanta 20-17. The loss denied CAU Head Coach Daryll McNeill’s quest to finish his first season as head coach at .500…..Lane College lost its final for 2010 by succumbing to Tuskegee 28-6 on the Golden Tigers’ homecoming. Lane , to its credit (sic) are consistent. In two years, the Dragons have lost 20 straight. Their last victory was 32-16 over Kentucky State in 2008…… GAITHER WATCH: Although only a sophomore, Morehouse College running back David Carter deserves some consideration for black college football’s highest honor. The Atlanta native who’s Dad played running back for Georgia Tech in the mid-70s had a great high school career but was looked over by most college teams. He wound up a Morehouse walk-on and proved his worth. He finished the regular season with 1180 yards,his second 1000 yard season in as many years………
GAMES AND PICKS: Only Tuskegee has a final game on its 2010 schedule.. They face Alabama State Thanksgiving Day in the 87th classic. Things are a little different from previous years. The Hornets enter the game strong at 6-3 and first place in the eastern division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).Tuskegee is 4th in the SIAC at 8-2.
Prediction-Alabama State by 3 in OT