Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
We know ONE team coming To Celebration Bowl II in Atlanta
ATLANTA- The Eagles of North Carolina Central University in Durham are headed to Atlanta to represent the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in the 2nd Celebration Bowl football game December 17 at the Georgia Dome.
The game calls itself the national black college championship game though I beg to differ since not all the HBCUs playing football in two other conferences (CIAA and the SIAC who’s chief territory is Georgia plus those schools who play an independent schedule) aren’t involved in the mix.
The Eagles shocked the moo out of the Aggies of North Carolina A&T by beating them (and I do mean BEAT) 42-21 before 15,715 (a huge crowd considering NCCU’s Kelly-Riddick Stadium’s capacity is 10,000) . I’m not sure if the chance to visit this reporters’ hometown was the principal motivator for the Eagles’ outstanding play offensively and defensively, but I’m certain the idea didn’t slip by Eagles’ head coach Jerry Mack who has made it to two big dances (MEAC title and Celebration Bowl) in only his fourth year at NCCU.
Actually, the coronary-producing victory by NCCU probably did a big favor for the Bayou Classic, going down in New Orleans “Big Easy” Louisiana November 26. The light that was shining bright the last week or so in the tar heel state had now been turned toward the southeast. I bet a lot of fence sitters wondering if paying the bucks to see Grambling and Southern is worth it. Well, if it wasn’t, it is now. One of the two aforementioned schools might well be NCCU’s opponent. To get there for either will be no snap, however. Southern and Grambling first have to play each other. They each boast undefeated division and conference marks in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The winner will advance to the conference championship game December 3 in Houston,Texas against Alcorn State, the SWAC’s eastern division champ for a second straight season and who represented the conference last year at Celebration Bowl I. All of this should sell more tickets at both games. This writer, God-willing, will be in NOLA covering the Bayou from end zone to end zone for 60 solid minutes!!)…………..
BACK TO THE SIAC:Tuskegee was apparently determined not to let their embarrassing 45-35 loss to visiting Virginia State a near fortnight ago get them down. Their spirits were picked up the Sunday after when the selection committee for the NCAA Division II playoffs picked them to compete for the fourth time since they qualified for post-season play. They faced the Newberry Bears in South Carolina last weekend. I opined last week that Tuskegee would capture that first playoff victory if their quarterbacks took their “A” game to South Carolina. One of them certainly did. Senior Kevin Lacey, benched during during most of the VSU game, apparently wanted no more “time on the pine”. He played 90% of the Newberry game and collected 188 passing yards and two throwing touchdowns which helped upset the #2 seed 35-33. Lacey got some help too from red shirt freshman running back Kenny Gant who rushed for 139 yards and scored once. The defense also came up big for ‘Skegee, led by conference defensive player of the year Osband Thompson. The junior linebacker had 11 total tackles and a sack.
Not unlike last year in the post-season. Tuskegee stays on the road for round two, facing 6th seeded North Greenville in Tigerville, South Carolina……
SIAC HOOPS: The 2016-17 season is just getting underway and several teams in the conference have yet to hit the hardwood. I’ve taken a look at this year’s predictions and games played thus far since the season started for most teams in mid November. Benedict and Lane have been forecast to win the eastern and western divisions of the conference respectively. Clark-AU is expected to finish fourth in the east. But under their new head coach Darrell Walker, the Panthers have hit the hardwood making a statement. So far, the Panthers are 3-1 (as of November 22).
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net