Kentucky State blanks Tuskegee 20-0


FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Golden Tigers played giveaway Saturday against Kentucky State, and the Thorobreds were willing recipients as they registered a 20-0 SIAC victory.

The Golden Tigers (2-5, 2-3 SIAC) committed a season-high six turnovers, and Kentucky State (5-3, 2-3 SIAC) turned four of the miscues into points en route to ending a 13-game losing streak in the series that began in 1907.

In addition to the turnovers, dropped passes, receivers falling down on pass routes, quarterbacks overthrowing open receivers, botched snaps and missed assignments, plagued the Golden Tigers.

“We didn’t play well at all,’ Coach Willie Slater said, adding that he saw nothing in practice during the week that made him think the Golden Tigers would play so poorly. “If I had seen it in practice, I would have tried to head it off.’’

The Golden Tigers had their least productive offensive game of the season as they only generated 113 total yards – 81 rushing and 32 passing. Quarterbacks Justin Nared, a freshman who started his fourth consecutive game, and Jeremy Williams, who missed the previous four contests with an ankle injury after starting the first game of the season, combined to complete just four passes. Each threw one interception. Nared also lost two fumbles.

“Everything we tried to do, we didn’t get a positive possession out of it,’’ Slater said. “We had open receivers and could not get them the ball; when we did get it to them, they dropped it. Everything was counterproductive. I don’t know if it was the long trip or what. We didn’t swarm to the ball (on defense). When the ball was on the ground, we didn’t get it. That kind of stuff happened all game long. What we were trying to do, we didn’t get it done.’’

The Golden Tigers’ offensive debacle came on the heels of their best statistical performance of the season in a 41-17 win against Lane a week earlier. They gained a season-high 279 total yards against the Dragons, including a season-best 251 on the ground, and the offense seemed to be getting in gear after struggling all season.

In retrospect, those stats were nothing more than fool’s gold.

“We made mistakes last week,’’ Slater said. “We still weren’t satisfied with the passing game (which only produced 28 yards against Lane). We can’t throw the ball downfield, and we don’t do a good job protecting the quarterback.’’

After a scoreless first quarter, Kentucky State went ahead 3-0 on a 40-yard field goal by Cade Berryman with two seconds left in the half. The points came after the Thorobreds intercepted a pass by Nared at the Golden Tigers’ 45.

Kentucky State struck again in the third quarter following another turnover by the Golden Tigers. This time return man Kevin Phinazee fumbled a punt at his 48. The Thorobreds put together a seven-play drive and took a 10-0 lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jerrel Noland to James Happy.

“That was the turning point,’’ Slater said. “The defense had held, and we were going to get good field position.’’

The Golden Tigers dodged a bullet after Adam Lucas fumbled the ensuing kickoff at his 20 and the Thorobreds recovered the ball. Berryman’s 21-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright.

The turnover bug bit the Golden Tigers later in the third quarter when Nared lost a fumble at their 24-yard line; this time Kentucky State made them pay as Noland connected with Raphael Amey on a 20-yard touchdown pass.

Nared lost another fumble in the fourth quarter that set up Kentucky State’s final points, which came on Berryman’s 20-yard field goal.

“This was an embarrassing game for me,’’ Slater said. “I’ve never been part of anything like it. I’ve been part of some bad teams, but nothing like that.’’

With three games remaining on the schedule, the defeat means the Golden Tigers are assured of their first non-winning season since 2003 when they finished 5-6. The losses this season are only two fewer than Slater, as coach of the Golden Tigers,  has had in his first five seasons combined.

“We’re going to keep trying to get better,’’ he said. “We’ll evaluate personnel. We may make some changes. But these are my guys. I recruited them. It’s my fault.’’

The Golden Tigers will host the Panthers of Clark Atlanta on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Abbott Stadium.

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