In Tuskegee University’s second football-related trip to Atlanta, Ga. this season, the Golden Tigers (7-1 overall; 6-0 in Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) struggled offensively against a Clark Atlanta University team that has not played well against competition in the SIAC all season (2-7 overall; 2-5 in conference play). Tuskegee won 14-0, but played sloppy in a game that the offense lost four out of five fumbles overall. The Panther defense also managed to force a fifth turnover due to a second-half interception.
|Jamar Hornsby (1) rushes in to
ensure the tackle of Clark Atlanta's Josh Andrews (32).
|Derrick Washington (2) uses his
speed to break away from Alford
Staten (1) & Brenard Williams (49).
Slater’s team still managed to remain unbeaten in conference play in 2012, but will play for the SIAC West Division Championship next week on the road in Fairfield, Ala. against the defending SIAC Champion Miles College. A win could essentially add two major games to the 2012 TU Football schedule, with a third trip to Atlanta looming the following week at Lakewood Stadium (Nov. 10). The winner of Saturday’s game will play the winner of the SIAC East Division Championship (also on Saturday), which will be played in Columbus, Ga. between Fort Valley State (7-2 overall; 5-1 in SIAC with lone conference loss coming to Tuskegee) and Albany State (6-3 overall; 5-1 in SIAC with lone conference loss coming to Miles College).
If Tuskegee were to emerge as conference champion, then the Golden Tigers would represent the SIAC in the annual Pioneer Bowl, which is the postseason showcase between representatives of the SIAC and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the only other major conference in NCAA Division II exclusively featuring historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Tuskegee dominates Pioneer Bowl history, having won seven out of the nine contests that the Golden Tigers have participated in since the game’s inception in 1997.
In order for Tuskegee to reach those lofty goals, Coach Slater said that the offense would have to handle the pigskin a lot better than it did on Saturday.
“We did really well with our turnovers up until this game,” Slater said. “We didn’t handle the ball very well, and there weren’t smooth handoffs between the quarterback and running back. For most of the game, we would drive down the length of the field. But, we just didn’t finish.”
Derrick Washington continued with his stellar season, as he rushed for 169 yards and the game’s only two touchdowns off 24 carries. The senior transfer from the University of Missouri averaged seven yards per rush, but also lost two fumbles in a stat that the coaching staff has concern about.
While Washington had gaudy numbers during the game, Slater said that he talked to his tailback about the expectations that the team would have in what will be the most important game of the year in a few days.
“I thought he played great,” Slater said. “He had two touchdowns for us. Eventually, you have mistakes in games, but he’s been pretty flawless for us this season. He knows that we expect more from him with the game coming up this week.”
In spite of the struggles with multiple turnovers on the offensive end, the Tuskegee defense did something that no TU Football team has done in 66 years. With the third consecutive shutout this season, the 2012 Golden Tigers became the first team since 1946 to hold three straight opponents scoreless. The ’46 team had their scoreless streak occur during the first three games of the season; defeating the U.S. Army Regiment 56-0, Philander Smith by a 59-0 margin and by taking out Grambling State 21-0.
Slater said that he is proud of the way the defense has been playing, as they have allowed an average of just 9.1 points per game through the first eight games of the season.
“It hasn’t been different than any of our other games,” Slater said of the way the defense controls the line of scrimmage. “We are able to hold the line by controlling the run, and we do a good job with interceptions. All of those guys back there [in the defensive secondary] have three to four years of experience. The line has not moved, and they tend to keep the quarterback in the pocket.”
Kevin Phinazee, Jr. returned one interception back 49 yards from the TU 44-yard line, bringing the ball back to the CAU seven-yard line to set up Washington’s first touchdown run in the opening quarter. Later on during the fourth quarter, Jamar Hornsby picked off quarterback Tyree Williams just inside the end zone in order to keep Clark Atlanta scoreless.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets or tailgating opportunities for Saturday’s contest against Miles College can call the Miles College Business Office at (205) 929-1430 or (205) 929-1431. For those who can’t make it to the 4:00 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, live stats will be available to follow at milesgoldenbears.com
. Click on the calendar on the right hand side, and a link to live stats will be available on the game date. A live radio broadcast will also be available at miles.edu
. To access it, just click on ‘Miles College Radio’ in the upper right hand corner of the screen.