The Tuskegee University Golden Tigers entered Saturday’s home game against Lane College having played sloppily and lethargically for six out of their first eight quarters in their first two games. After dropping a one-point decision to Alabama A&M, and playing from behind in the second half to defeat Johnson C. Smith, the emphasis for TU Football in their home opener at Abbott Stadium was to start quickly and not take their collective feet off the gas.
In Tuskegee’s 45-17 victory over Lane College this past weekend, Derrick Washington scored two of his three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter (finishing with 80 yards rushing), before the defense would wreck havoc on Dragons’ quarterback Chris Rini in the following quarter. William Buford (who had two interceptions on the game) and Kevin Phinazee, Jr. were accountable for two pick-sixes and half of TU’s 28 total points in the second 15-minute period.
Tuskegee Head Coach Willie Slater said that he was very impressed with the individual effort of Buford, noting that his senior safety nearly forced a hat trick of turnovers all by himself.
“William Buford played very well,” Slater said. “He nearly had another pick in the second half that he dove for, and it just escaped his hands. I was disappointed with the pressure that we were able to put on their quarterback, but our safeties and cornerbacks more than made up for it.”
Lane is the third consecutive team this season to finish a game against the Golden Tigers with more first downs (a 21-16 advantage) in the game. But, Tuskegee was more concerned about getting into the endzone, and Slater said that he was pleased with the continued improvement in the passing game. Rashard Burkette completed half of his 14 total passes and threw for 101 yards and a touchdown.
“I think that our quarterback is getting used to the system that we have in place,” Slater said of the junior signal caller. “We came out better. They deferred the coin toss, and we just looked better through the air.”
With Tuskegee earning their first victory in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and climbing above .500 for the first time this season, the Golden Tigers take a much-needed week off. Next up for TU Football is the second of two home games this season on Sept. 29, as Fort Valley State comes to town for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.
Like Tuskegee, the Wildcats are also coming off of a 2-1 start to the 2012 season, as they pummeled Clark Atlanta University by a score of 26-3 in their home opener in Georgia. This Saturday, they play Benedict College in their second consecutive home game, with a scheduled 6:00 p.m. Eastern (5:00 p.m. Central) kickoff in a regionally televised game on Comcast Sports South.
As for TU, Slater said that the team is preparing for the Wildcats by working hard in the gym on strength and conditioning.
“In addition to working on our strength and conditioning, I want us to continue to improve in the passing game,” Slater said. “We had a great individual effort this week from Marquel Gardner (five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown), and I know that is a good sign that we are headed in the right direction.”