Golden Tigers defeat Stillman in regionally televised game
In a battle between two of the top teams in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s [SIAC] West Division, the Tuskegee Golden Tigers (5-1 overall; 4-0 in SIAC) earned their fifth consecutive victory with a 16-0 win over Stillman College (4-3 overall; 3-1 in SIAC) in a game televised Thursday night on the road in Tuscaloosa, Ala. via Comcast Sports South. The game was a low scoring affair for TU, as the 16 points were the fewest scored in a game since the season-opening 7-6 loss against Alabama A&M played in Birmingham on Sept. 1. But, for Tuskegee Head Coach Willie Slater, the victory marked a successful stretch in which the Golden Tigers earned three hard fought victories in the span of 13 days.
Slater said that he wasn’t sure if the team was showing signs of exhaustion from playing the three contests in such rapid succession, but he wasn’t impressed with the total amount of penalties his team racked up, even though there were only seven that were called all game long. (Tuskegee earned five of the penalties.)
“The penalties were what killed us,” Slater said. “It seemed like every time we had a long play, we were called for something.”
The player that was most negatively affected by the penalties was tailback Derrick Washington, even though he scored a touchdown and averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 13 official carries on the night (79 yards rushing). Washington would have easily averaged over 100 yards rushing for the evening if he didn’t have a couple of major runs called back, and he also sat on the bench during a significant stretch of the third quarter due to a groin injury.
“He played great,” Slater said of Washington. “If you take away all of the call backs, he could have had 200 yards rushing.”
While it is not team policy to discuss the nature of injuries that occur in-game, Washington told AL.com in a postgame interview that the injury happened while he was trying to gain additional yardage on a run at the beginning of the second half.
“I went through the hole, and I made a cutback,” Washington said. “And the guy [defender] kicked his leg up, and I got kicked in the groin. It kind of got stiff, but I got loose on the sideline. I was able to come back in for another series.”
Toward the end of the third quarter, Washington ripped off two major runs of 14 and 12 yards to punch in the game’s only offensive touchdown.
“It was real big,” Washington said of the consecutive plays. “Our offense, we finally started clicking. We were stagnant the whole game, and couldn’t get anything going. We got killed by penalties, killing a lot of our drives. I got to the goal line a couple of times, and the penalties had pushed us back. But, we finally got it clicking.”
The only touchdown of the first half came from William Buford, as he was able to pick off Stillman quarterback Josh Straughan for a five-yard interception return that gave TU an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Slater praised the play of the Thomasville, Ala. native, as he leads the defense this season with four picks.
“He’s having a great year,” Slater said of Buford. “He’s been a great player since he’s been here, and he did a good job of keeping the quarterback in check.”
This Saturday, Tuskegee returns to Abbott Stadium for the annual Homecoming game against Kentucky State University. The Thorobreds have yet to win a game in conference play this season (1-5 overall), but something about last season’s meeting (in which KSU defeated TU 20-0) still agitates Coach Slater when the division rival was brought up.
“That’s the team we didn’t score a point on last year,” Slater said of last year’s 20-0 setback played in Frankfort, KY. “I don’t ever remember not being able to score a single point on anyone. So, we have our work cut out for us. We’ve checked on them. The weekend provided us a good opportunity to heal up, rest and get into the final stretch of the season.”
Game time is set for 1:00 p.m., while Senior Day festivities will take place at Noon (12:00 p.m.).
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