Homecomings on college campuses are usually something to remember.
After Miles College pulled off an heroic come-from-behind 31-27 win over Clark Atlanta in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the Golden Bears might mark Homecoming 2019 as one they will never forget.
After enduring six hours of weather delays, Miles (4-1, 2-0 SIAC West) scored two touchdowns and produced two goalline stands inside the final five minutes to thwart CAU (0-5, 0-2 SIAC East). On 3rd and goal from the Miles 2, the Panthers attempted to run a reverse wide receiver pass but Maxel Wells intercepted the Caleeb Roberson floater in the end zone with 52 seconds remaining to put an end to a long, eventful day at 1:29 a.m. Central Time.
The game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. but with lightning in the area, the game was delayed until 6:15 p.m. Clark Atlanta would open a 27-17 lead late in the third quarter but another weather delay halted the game at the 1:12 mark. The second delay, encompassed by a thunderstorm that cleared most of the nearly 12,000 fans on campus for Homecoming, lasted 3:45.
By the time the game resumed at 12:38 a.m., there were only a smattering of fans sitting through the continuing rain. But that did not deter the Golden Bears, who came out on fire.
Right before the second stoppage, Miles reserve quarterback Li'Jon Cordier (4-of-8, 117 yards) had just converted a fourth-and-3 play to give Miles a new set of downs. On the third play of the fourth quarter, freshman running back Justin Ruiz punched it in from nine yards out, completing a 12-play, 74-yard drive the cut the deficit to 27-24.
The Golden Bears defense came to play after the delay, as well. It forced two 3-and-outs and put the offense back on the field, where the Golden Bears were able to make a big play. Cordier, not known for his deep passing game, rolled left on a bootleg and appeared set to run. Instead, he pulled up, found a streaking LaAnthony Robinson (four catches, 95 yards), and hit him on the money for a 74-yard touchdown pass that gave Miles the lead with just less than 10 minutes left.
But CAU wasn't finished. It forced a turnover and began to drive toward the Miles end zone looking to retake the lead. But Panthers quarterback Charles Stafford, who threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns, was unable to convert on 4th and goal from the 2 as Jaylun Thomas knocked down a pass in the end zone to get the ball back for the Golden Bears.
Miles was forced to punt on the ensuing possession and CAU got the ball back needing to cover just 30 yards over the final 3:08. The Panthers would get to the Miles 2, but Wells (7 tackles, 1/2 sack, forced fumble, INT, 2 pass breakups) broke up a possible touchdown pass on second down before coming up with the game-winning interception on the next play to keep Miles perfect on Homecoming in nine tries under head coach Reginald Ruffin.
Miles struggled to contain Stafford and wide receiver Kendell Wimberly (13 catches, 187 yards, 3 TD) but completely throttled the CAU running game, holding it to minus-42 yards. Ruiz (15 carries, 115 yards) had the best day of his young career and Antonio Lee (four catches, 60 yards) was solid for Miles on offense. Ozzie Williams, Jr. had five tackles (three for loss) and a fumble recovery for a touchdown and Kadarius Roberts had seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks for the Golden Bears, who travel to face Benedict next week. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
`~Miles Sports Information