Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
The Gridiron Turnaround at Benedict
ATLANTA-The last 21 years of football for Columbia, South Carolina’s Benedict College have not produced many moments for cheering. Since the school brought football back to campus in 1995, the Tigers have had only 5 winning seasons. Two of them were .500 seasons. Their best outing in two decades was an 8-3 outing in 2009. That year, they lost their first two, then went 3-1 and wrapped up the season with five straight victories. Their worstouting was last year, when under new head coach James “Mike” White, formally of Albany State fame, they went 0-10. After last year’s debacle, some hard–core Tigers, a few sportswriters and some armchair coaches began privately and publicly wondering if Athletic Director Willie Washington had committed a royal boo-boo hiring White, an experienced coach but perhaps past his prime?
Looks like Washington, who has been somebody’s Athletics Director for the last 31 years, saw more than we did. All it apparently took for “Iron Mike” to get some traction in the Palmetto State was one year. Now the old pro has turned the grid program 180 degrees in 2016. The South Carolina Tigers, first place in the SIAC east, won their second straight and third of its first four games of this season with a 28-14 victory over Fort Valley. Benedict held a commanding 21-7 lead over the Wildcats at halftime thanks to freshman quarterback Philip Brown, who threw for two scores and rushed for another. They added seven more points in the third period via an interception. Fort Valley scored in the opening moments of the second period and again in the fourth. Its Benedict’s best start since 2003 when they won 3 of their first four over Morehouse, Elizabeth City and Livingstone. Their only loss was to Tuskegee.
ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: For The 84th time since 1905, the Maroon Tigers of Morehouse will collide with the intra-campus cardinal and black Panthers of Clark-Atlanta this Saturday at Clark-AU field.
Morehouse is currently in third place in the eastern division of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) with a conference mark of 1-2 and an overall of 2-2. CAU enters the contest in last place in the SIAC east but only by virtue of its overtime loss to Fort Valley State University, a divisional contest. The Panthers hold a conference mark of 1-2 and an overall record of 2-2.
Last weekend in their second home game of the season, the Panthers defeated the visiting Ave Maria University Gyrenes of Ave Maria, Florida near Miami, 37-13, before 2637 mostly partisans who were treated to an impressive offensive show by the Panther elevens. CAU led 7-0 in the first period but gave up a score to Ave Maria which narrowed the CAU lead to one.
But in blitzkrieg fashion, the Panther offense opened up, scoring four times before the half. Johnathan McCrary, already a graduate of Vanderbilt University but choosing to play out two years of remaining eligibility with CAU, scored twice on a run and passing touchdown. He was complimented with a rush by Matthew Daniels and three field goals in the second and fourth periods by Carlos Saidana.
The Gyrenes, members of the Sun Conference of the NAIA, managed to score once more in the third period but Saidana’s field goals of 33 and 25 yards sealed the victory.
Earlier last Saturday afternoon at BT Harvey Stadium, Morehouse hosted the Miles Golden Bears of Fairfield, Alabama. Reggie Ruffin’s elevens, currently 2-0 in conference play and 2-1 overall, were shut out two Saturday’s ago and embarrassed 29-0 by visiting West Georgia in Miles' home opener. Possibly seeking to avenge the loss, they immediately went to work scoring on the Marooners, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal while giving up a score to their host to lead 17-7 at halftime. The Bears extended their lead to 17 with an 80 yard punt return by Davin Brown just as the third period got underway. Morehouse got three opportunities to score in the second half but fell victim to turnovers. With 2:54 to go in the ballgame, the Marooners worked the oval to the Miles 44 but had that drive choked on a fumble. Despite the loss, Morehouse remains among the top three of the SiAC’s eastern division. …….
Kentucky State picked up their first win of 2016, defeating winless Central State of Ohio 17-14 in overtime. KSU redshirt senior Bill Rose sealed the win for the Thorobreds with a 23-yard field goal on their possession in the OT period. The two met at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the 33rd Circle City Classic. This year, the game attracted 21,024…….
Tuskegee rolled to its fourth straight win against no losses with a 38-7 victory over Lane College in the home opener for the Golden Tigers. A crowd of 5329 looked on as ‘Skegee senior quarterback Kevin Lacey scored three times, two in the air and one on the ground. He also got a lot of help through redshirt freshman Ladarell Pettway, who among other things, forced a turnover and returned a punt 64 yards for a score in the fourth period. Lane, much improved from last year, managed only seven points scored in the second period on a 25 yard pass play from Marcus Reynolds to Ahmad Issac…..
Trailing 27-14 at the break, Albany State stopped a West Georgia drive in the third period, then mounted a drive of their own that narrowed the lead to 6. The Rams couldn’t mount another drive but their defense managed a two point safety that unfortunately came as time ran out. The 1-3 Rams lost 27-23
XTRA POINTS: During the FAMU-Tuskegee grid game three weeks ago, Golden Tiger head coach Willie Slater pulled first stringer QB Kevin Lacey at the end of the third quarter and sent him back in with 3:20 to go. Seemed odd until a source told INSIDE that Slater pulled his star signal caller after feeling he was losing his focus. “He needed some time on the pine,” the source quipped. In the third period, Lacey completed three of his 7 pass attempts, threw two interceptions, and was sacked once. The break worked for Lacey. He returned and led a one play drive that resulted in the winning touchdown…….
THIS WEEKEND’S SCORES AND INSIDE PICKS
- Central State at Kentucky Wesleyan - Wesleyan by 7
- UNC Pembroke at Tuskegee - Tuskegee by 6 in OT
- Benedict at Gardner-Webb - Benedict by 3
- Lane at Lincoln (Mo) - Lane by 10
- Fort Valley at Alderson Broaddus - AB by 3
- Kentucky State vs. Valdosta State-(Waycross Georgia) - Valdosta by 6
- Morehouse @ CAU - CAU by 6
- Miles @ Albany State - Miles by 12
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net