Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
If Albany State head coach Mike White is as smart as I give him credit, he had some assistants in Wingate, North Carolina Saturday to watch Morehouse play Wingate. I am sure, too, they saw how Wingate exploited Morehouse weaknesses in the secondary and on special teams to score six times in the second, four through the air,and humble their visitors 63-41. It’s obvious that Wingate passes heavily and will use any weakness to slide by their opponents. If ASU has any chance against the Bulldogs who are buoyed by their first playoff win in school history, they will have to avoid mistakes and make sure their secondary is as strong as they can get it and their defensive line keeps the pressure on Bulldog junior quarterback Cody Haffly.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST SATURDAY
When Morehouse head coach Rich Freeman learned last Sunday that Wingate College would be their opponent in round one of the NCAA Division II playoffs, he was genuinely pleased with that. Through a mutual exchange agreement, the two schools shared film of each other. “So I really wanted to play against them because we are prepared for them”, he told INSIDE.
Perhaps so, but not enough it seemed. After an encouraging first half that saw Morehouse leading 27-21, the Tigers experienced a mother-load of offense led by Haffly’s five touchdowns (he threw seven in all) and wound up bowing out of the playoffs before nearly 4000 in Wingate, North Carolina. Nearly half of that crowd were Morehouse fans who made the near five hour trip to the Tarheel state.
They initially had plenty to cheer about in the first half after Wingate bobbled the opening kickoff (Morehouse won the toss but deferred to the second half) which was nearly recovered by Morehouse special teams. Despite the opening boo-boo, the Bulldogs recovered enough to launch a 70 yard drive and 10 yard pass from Haffly to senior wideout Delric Ellington to take an early lead.. But Morehouse responded immediately with its own 77 yard drive that ended on a 32 yard run by sophomore David Carter. The metro Atlanta native ended the game leading all rushers with 167 yards and 1180 yards for the season.
Then, Morehouse took the lead thanks to a fumble recovered by junior Mykel Green . The Morehouse lead increased to 10 on a 41yard field goal by Ian Mullen which came following an interception by sophomore linebacker Brandon Houston. Wingate scored twice before the half which was answered by a touchdown and field goal for Morehouse to send the Marooners in the locker room at the break leading by six.
What adjustments did Wingate make in the locker room at half. “We made none,” their head coach Jack Reich said strangely. We just told the team to stop the turnovers.” That they largely did while cranking up their offense and their defense forced Morehouse turnovers that cost them at least two touchdowns. It also seemed that the Morehouse secondary was ill-equipped to handle the avalanche of passing attempts and completions by Haffly (29 of 49 for 477 yards). He seemed to make good use of his primary receivers and especially sophomore Chris Bowden who caught two of those six touchdown passes for 18 and 23 yards.
Wingate now hits the road this weekend to face number one seed Albany State University. Morehouse winds up a successful 2010 with an 8-3 finish.
ALBANY, MOREHOUSE LEAD IN ALL CONFERENCE SELECTEES
Predictably, the Rams of Albany State led the list of gridders selected to the 2010 All SIAC first and second teams with 13. Heading the list is their junior transfer quarterback Stanley Jennings who threw for 2206 yards and 22 touchdown strikes.
The Maroon Tiger picks were led by down lineman Derrin Nettles. The senior from Montgomery Alabama led the nation in tackles for loss with 24.5 and finished second in the conference in sacks with nine.
The all conference selection committee chose Albany’s Mike White as coach of the year. I think they did that largely on the strength of the school’s 10-0 record, finishing fifth in the AFCA coach’s poll and second in the SBN poll. Had I had a vote in this, my selection would have been Rich Freeman of Morehouse. Some of you readers probably think I’m being prejudiced or just another home town rooter. No, none of the above (this time).. I think Freeman did more to put Morehouse football on the map than any of his predecessors. Before this year, Morehouse was never taken seriously as a football power. “Free”, Morehouse’s first native son coach, had been with the college four years, has never had a losing season, and built the program to where it is now. The school placed in the Sheridan Broadcasting poll for the first time since the radio net began keeping one in 1973, placed as high as 23rd in the AFCA coach’s poll for the first time in school history and put a big ole spotlight on a program that generally stayed in the dark. That can only mean some midnight oil was burning and such dedication deserves real recognition and especially from the conference that Morehouse helped establish 97 years ago.. Freeman does have one more shot at recognition during the annual sports jamboree of the 100% Wrong Club….Let’s see what the exalted brethren of the 100 think……