The Tuskegee University Golden Tiger Football team earned its 640th victory in program history at Homecoming, 2012 this past Saturday by defeating Kentucky State University in a 37-0 victory in which the outcome was never in doubt. Tuskegee (6-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play) earned its sixth consecutive victory while remaining undefeated in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), while Kentucky State fell to 1-6 overall (winless at 0-5 in SIAC play).
Even though the Thorobreds aren’t having a great season, this game wasn’t a difficult one for the team as a whole to prepare for, as KSU defeated Tuskegee in Frankfort by a 20-0 margin last season. The win for KSU was the first in 15 seasons over the Golden Tigers. In response, TU Head Football Coach Willie Slater was able to avenge being on the wrong side of a shutout during just the second time in his seven seasons at the helm of the football program by dishing out retribution with a second consecutive shutout from his own team. The last time that Tuskegee held two opponents to consecutive shutouts was in 1966, when TU defeated Morehouse College 93-0 and Lane College 79-0.
Slater was particularly impressed with sophomore tailback Michael J. Thornton, who managed to score three touchdowns on the day, averaging 11.7 yards per carry for 70 total yards on the ground.
“I thought that he played a lot better on Saturday,” Slater said. “His blocking [as a fullback] was especially a lot better. The first touchdown was huge. He did a good job of following the blockers, and we had to check down to him on the next two touchdowns, where he ran into the endzone.”
Senior Derrick Washington once again managed to get over 100 yards rushing on the day, as he finished with 114 yards off 13 carries. In the passing game, Justin Nared completed 9-of-15 pass attempts for 160 yards and a 19-yard strike to Kaleep Williams for the final touchdown of the game with just under seven minutes remaining in the contest.
Slater said that he thought the game preparation went surprisingly well for a Homecoming contest, and that the Tuskegee defense played well in spite of some dropped passes on the offensive side of the football.
“We didn’t play as well at receiver, but our first three kickoffs were inside their 25 yard line, which was good for our defense,” Slater said. “We had some dropped passes by Marquel Gardner, and he doesn’t usually drop any passes. But, he played a lot better in the second half.”
Regardless of what happens this Saturday against Clark Atlanta University (2-6 overall, 2-4 in SIAC play), the Golden Tigers have a much bigger date that looms the following week (Nov. 3) when the SIAC’s Western Division Championship will be up for grabs against defending SIAC Champion Miles College. But, Slater said that he is determined and focused to have his kids play in the moment without looking ahead.
“We’re just thinking about Clark Atlanta,” Slater said. “We can’t worry or focus on anyone else right now. We’ll just play one game at a time, and go from there.”
Slater said he’s still haunted by a loss in his first season at TU in which the Golden Tigers went 10-2 and won the SIAC, but lost to Clark Atlanta by a score of 10-6. He also cited a good working relationship with Clark Atlanta Defensive Coordinator Kelvin Powell, who played three years as a TU linebacker and is currently the all-time leading tackler at Tuskegee University.
The game against Clark Atlanta will be played at 3:00 p.m. Central/4:00 p.m. Eastern time. The Panthers have won just one out of their last six games, with the latest loss coming from Albany State in a 36-9 defeat last Saturday in Albany.