Golden Tigers upended by Bulldogs
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Golden Tigers fell to 0-2 with a 21-6 nonconference loss to Alabama A&M in the second annual Louis Crews Classic Saturday night as their mistake-prone, injury-riddle offense had another subpar performance.
Still Coach Willie Slater, who saw his team lose consecutive games for the first time since he replaced Rick Comegy at the helm in 2006, see the glass as being half-full
“I still think we have a good team,’’ Slater said. “We did some things better (than in the Golden Tigers’ 33-19 season-opening loss to Langston).’’
One of the things the Golden Tigers did better was play better defensively, particularly in the second half. The Golden Tigers trailed 14-6 at the intermission after giving up 185 total yards in the first two quarters. They held Alabama A&M to 112 yards in the second half.
“I saw some positive things,’’ Slater said. “We’re getting better. The defense made some good adjustments.’’
However, the strides that the Golden Tigers made defensively were negated by their ineffective offense, which produced 194 total yards after generating 240 in the loss to Langston. Terry Bradden, a sophomore transfer from Howard University, who is still learning the offense, replaced junior Jeremy Williams as the starting quarterback. But neither distinguished himself. Bradden was 8-for-14 and threw for 94 yards. Williams was 3-for-6 and gained 78 yards.
“We got to get a guy to manage the game,’’ Slater said of the quarterback situation. We’re making too many mistakes.’’
Contributing to the Golden Tigers’ offensive woes is their inability to run the ball effectively. They have only gained 107 yards on the ground in two games after rushing fir 54 yards against Alabama A&M.. Junior running back Terrell Edwards-Maye, a 6-2, 220-pound transfer from Marshall who was counted to play a major role in the running game, missed his second consecutive game with an injury.
Williams replaced Bradden on the Golden Tigers’ second offensive series after Bradden lost a fumble at midfield when he was sacked. The turnover setup Alabama A&M’s first touchdown, a five-yard run by quarterback Deaunte Mason
Williams had the Golden Tigers on the move in the second period after Chance Wilson missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. Williams connected with Wayne Williams on a 46-yard pass play that moved the ball to Alabama A&M’s 34-yard line. However, Jeremy Williams was knocked out of the game with an injured knee when he was tackled after scrambling for a three-yard loss.
Bradden returned to the game and guided the Golden Tigers the rest of the way on an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with Michael J. Thornton’s two-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left in the half..
The Golden Tigers were still down a point after Eduardo Murillo missed the extra point kick.
Disaster struck on the ensuing kickoff. Alabama A&M got a 46-yard return to Tuskegee’s 42. The Bulldogs scored six plays later on a three-yard touchdown pass from Mason to G’Alonzo Milton with 28 seconds remaining in the half.
The Golden Tigers’ defense tightened up in the second half and held Alabama A&M to three-and-out on each of the Bulldogs’ possessions the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Golden Tigers’ offense started to move the ball. They drove to Alabama A&M’s 25, where they had first-and-10. But on first down, running back DeMario Pippen fumbled the ball for a13-yard loss; the Golden Tigers’ ended up punting from the 38 after Bradden threw two incomplete passes.
On their next possession the Golden Tigers had first-and-goal from Alabama A&M’s six, but they came away scoreless when they were forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal that Murillo missed wide left.
The Golden Tigers had another scoring opportunity in the fourth quarter, but they failed to convert on a fourth-and-two play from Alabama A&M’s 14 when Pippen was tackled for no gain with 12:53 left in the game.
“We moved the ball,’’ Slater said, “but little bitty things kept us from finishing (drives).’’
The Golden Tigers were still within a touchdown and two-point conversion of tying the score in the final five minutes. The defense got a much-needed stop when Kenneth Baker tackled wide receiver Montarius Smith for a three-yard loss on at attempted screen pass. However, Baker was flagged for a personal foul when he lifted Smith into the air and slammed him to the ground on the tackle.
“That’s a new rule,’’ Slater said. “If the whistle is blowing, you don’t lift the player up and body slam him. They're going to call a penalty. It was the right call.’’
Kaderuis Lacey scored on 18-yard run to seal the victory for Alabama A&M.
Freshman Justin Nared from Greenville, Ala., quarterbacked the Golden Tigers on their final possession.
The loss left Slater puzzled and wondering what to do in order to get the offense in gear before the Golden Tigers begin the SIAC season against Stillman at Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium Saturday.
“I don’t understand, but I do understand,’’ he said, adding that he might elevate Nared to first team. “It’s back to the drawing board. We’ve got to back some decisions. No. 17 (Nared) can help. We got to put him in the fire. I’m going to weigh things. It wouldn’t be a hard decision, but he’s got some things to learn. I guess the offense is complicated. I didn’t think it was complicated. I thought we had a better team. We got some playmakers. I just don’t understand, but I do understand.’’