Sunday, September 30, 2007
By St. Clair Murraine, DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
ATLANTA - A little more than a dozen children were so engrossed during a math-class discussion that they seemed oblivious to the presence of principal Curt Green on Friday. Hardly any of them looked around when Green began to explain the roundtable setting to a visitor.
A few doors down the hall, an English teacher worked with a handful of students at the chalkboard. At the same time, several other students had group discussions going on.
Nothing seemed traditional in any of the other classes at the all-boys BEST Academy, housed in the old Thurgood Marshall School on Atlanta's northwest side. The curriculum is like most elementary schools, but the way it's presented is completely out of the box.
"Most boys seem to be hands-on in terms of studies," said Green, explaining the teaching concept. "They need a lot of movement associated with the work that they're learning in class. They get to touch and manipulate the (leaning tools) that they're using in class versus sitting down and hearing a lecture and taking notes all the time. We're focusing on their strengths."
The school's future looks bright, thanks in part to money raised through the Atlanta Classic football game. The game has become the 100 Black Men of Atlanta's biggest annual fundraiser.
While the Atlanta School Board provides funding for the school, the 100 Black Men pays for the boys' uniforms. But the biggest financial beneficiary is Project Success, a mentoring program initiated by the 100 Black Men.
Project Success offers children from low-income families an opportunity to develop life skills. The men take a lead role with actual involvement with the children.
Since taking over promotion of the annual rivalry game between FAMU and Tennessee State University 19 years ago, Project Success has benefited to the tune of $2.6 million, said John Grant, CEO of the organization, who didn't disclose exactly how much has been raised.
A huge chunk of gate receipts goes to payouts in the range of more than $100,000 to each university. About $6 million has been paid to the schools over the years.
The partnership goes hand in hand with the 100 Black Men's mission to motivate children from underprivileged communities to attend college, Grant said. He also said that several corporate supporters have offered internship opportunities and jobs to graduates of Project Success.
The Classic remains pivotal, though.
"I think the important thing to know is the fact that we're partnering with two colleges that have a long history of rivalry," he said. "We want those institutions to be strong institutions because we're sending kids.
"Our goal is to continue to increase the amount of payout that goes to the schools every year and raise money for more kids from challenged societies. We are impacting a lot of lives in a lot of communities."
The school is the brainchild of Beverly Hall, Atlanta's superintendent of schools, and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. It's the latest mentoring project for the non-profit organization.
The academy opened for the first time in August with 138 sixth-grade boys. The plan is to add a grade every year through 12th. In two years, renovation work will be completed at Benjamin Carson School, which will become the permanent home of the academy.
Project Success, like the BEST Academy, is about letting children know that education is a sure way to change their fortunes, Grant said. Some of the boys are proteges of Project Success.
"Going through that, I got help with school and my homework, too," said Chad Gordon, 11. "I really appreciated it because I could get a scholarship to a college. My parents are really happy about that, and I'm really excited because I can't wait to go to college."
The emphasis at BEST, which stands for Business, Engineering, Science and Technology, is just that. Scientists such as Lonnie Johnson, who is known for his work in the study of alternative fuel, have had discussion sessions with the boys.
In the classroom, some of their work is done on special computerized programs in each room.
"I find it interesting because at this school we have iPods," said Marcquel Culberson, a former traditional-school student. "I'm enjoying it a lot."
The children's parents are just as involved as their mentors and teachers. They have to commit to giving volunteer hours and participating in educational projects themselves, Grant said.
"This is about changing the paradigm," Grant said. "We want them to know this is not an entitlement program; it's an opportunity program. You have to want the opportunity; we're not here to pull you along."
The Atlanta Football Classic, and all the events surrounding it, has profound relevance for me personally.
I grew up in a small town, Potecasi, N.C., and I went to North Carolina A&T State University. Like many who've attended historically black colleges and universities, I was the first person in my family to go to college.
This game started because 100 Black Men of Atlanta needed to raise more money for our (mentoring and tuition assistance program) Project Success, which was then in its second year.
That first game was at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and we drew 40-something thousand, which was crucial. If we had only drawn 20,000 or so, we would've been dead in the water. We never would've met expenses.
From there, the game has just grown into a Wednesday-through-Saturday festival. We have a big college fair with about 5,000 high school juniors and seniors who show up. We have a health fair, an intellectual debate, a concert, and our Georgia Power Parade of Excellence.
In other words, we use this game as a way to promote our mission, which is to provide support and improve the quality of life for African-American kids.
Further, I think that remains the mission of HBCUs. I think a lot of people in recent years have wondered if HBCUs have outlived their usefulness. But I believe they are needed today more than ever.
In the beginning, HBCUs were needed because of discrimination. Now the reasons are more economic.
We have had in the current generation, because of the policies of our country, a whole new cycle of poverty. As a result, you have children growing up today who don't know anything about the college experience.
It seems like everywhere I turn, I see kids who don't envision college as a part of their future.
They don't think of themselves in academic terms, and neither do their parents. So, I think, given those conditions, HBCUs are as vital today as they were 100 years ago.
And I think the same of HBCU football. There is a climate, an energy that is different from mainstream college football. HBCU football is more of a community and cultural experience.
There is something about our football that hearkens back to an earlier era, before big business and big media took over sports.
Our game reminds us of a more casual era when there was barely any separation between players and spectators, when we were all part of one large community.
Here's an interesting fact: 59 percent of those coming (to the Classic) are women, who in turn bring children. So we have more of a family atmosphere than your typical football game.
Many of the people, perhaps more than half of the 70,000 people who show up, aren't even alumni of the two schools.
This is just a huge homecoming and reunion for HBCU fans and graduates in general. We have people buying tickets who come from 33 states, plus Canada and the Virgin Islands.
Of course, there is one other major difference between black football and mainstream football.
At [mainstream] games, people rush to the concession stands at halftime. But at our games, people are rushing to their seats.
No one in their right mind would want to miss the battle of the bands.
— John T. Grant, 50, became CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta in November, 2001, but he joined the organization in 1988 and worked on the very first Atlanta Football Classic (then called "The Ebony Classic" ) in 1989. The Classic remains the largest fund-raiser for 100 Black Men of Atlanta.
Tennessee State misses late field goal attempt
Rubin Carter better be in church this morning.
After seeing his opponent rip 90 yards down the field with no timeouts in less than a minute, the Florida A&M coach knew it was time to put his trust in a higher power.
As he watched Tennessee State's sure-footed kicker Eric Benson lined up for the go-ahead 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left, Carter's only thought was, "Lord, I sure hope he misses this kick."
Photo: Tennessee State kicker Eric Benson (left) watches his field goal attempt sail wide left, while Florida A&M defensive back LeRoy Vann (right) celebrates.
Benson, who hadn't missed a kick all year, shanked it wide left. The missed kick, which never had a chance, enabled Florida A&M to escape the Georgia Dome with an 18-17 win over rival Tennessee State in the 19th annual Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic.
It was the fifth straight year the game has been decided in the final period and the sixth straight time FAMU has beaten TSU. Tennessee State leads the series 25-22, but FAMU is now 11-3 against the Tigers in the Atlanta Football Classic.
"I had all the confidence in the world that he was going to make that kick," said Tennessee State coach James Webster. "I thought when he lined up, game over, end of the streak. I was already starting to think about how we were going to squib the kickoff."
Carter admitted, "It didn't look real good with eight seconds left."
Tennessee State took possession with 50 seconds left, having spent its final timeout on FAMU's previous possession. The Tigers (2-3) began on their own 5 after a holding penalty on the punt return.
But quarterback Antonio Heffner put Tennessee State in position to win the game with a pair of clutch passes, a 25-yarder to Ronald Evans and a 55-yarder to Chris Johnson, who almost scored before being gang tackled at the 5. Tennessee State suffered a 5-yard penalty for illegal procedure, then waited through a FAMU timeout before Benson attempted the kick.
"He's a very poised young man," Webster said. "He just didn't kick it right."
FAMU (2-2) won the game with a strong second half. The Rattlers, who trailed 14-5 at halftime, were more aggressive on defense and became more effective on offense after Leon Camel replaced starter Albert Chester late in the third quarter.
"We played awful football in the first half, not up to game tempo," Carter said. "At halftime we talked about the urgency we needed to have in the second half."
Photo: The Rattlers' Philip Sylvester, left, stiff arms the Tigers' #10, Reno Thompson for extra yardage.
Freshman Qier Hall came up with the big plays the Rattlers needed in the third quarter. He returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, then returned the next punt 20 yards to set up the go-ahead score.
"We told the special teams last night that we needed to make a big play and they did," Carter said. "That turned it around for us."
Webster agreed. "You take that [touchdown] away and we win the game," he said. "Those were two critical plays on the punt coverage team."
FAMU's Philip Sylvester provided the offensive stability needed. The freshman rushed 25 times for 131 yards and caught two passes. He was named the team's MVP.
Heffner, voted Tennessee State's MVP, led the Tigers by completing 12 of 22 passes for 309 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 67 yards and one touchdown. But Heffner was pursued more aggressively by the FAMU defense in the second half and could not produce another touchdown.
"They started taking more chances," Webster said. "The first half they sat back and let things happen. The second half they started blitzing and take chances.
The FAMU defense had only two sacks, but made eight tackles behind the line. Carlos Rolle led the Rattlers with nine tackles.
By JENNIFER BRETT, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tailgating, classic style: Hot dogs on the grill, brews in the cooler.
Tailgating, 100 Black Men of Atlanta style: Carving stations, proper silverware — and fantastic people watching.
"I don't do tailgating," said Charita Gray, among the crowd at the posh reception preceding Saturday's Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic at the Georgia Dome.
But the club-level shindig, held hours before Florida A&M and Tennessee State University took the field, suited her fine. The event featured live music, a cash bar and buffet stations with pasta, vegetables, maple-glazed turkey breast and Cajun roast beef. Some guests claimed comfy seats near a wall of televisions airing various sporting events, while others worked the crowd.
"This is absolutely the way to do it," said Cynthia Williams, vice president of resource development for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women of Atlanta, Metro Atlanta Chapter. She was seated near the keyboardist with Virginia Harris, the group's president.
Cynthia and Bobby Smith of Mableton attended as guests of former Assistant Secretary of State Terrell Slayton Jr., president-elect of 100 Black Men of Atlanta. Cynthia Smith chuckled as she contemplated the poor tailgaters having to get by without china or linen serviettes.
"They need to get in the know," she joked.
Kidding aside, of course, the Classic benefits Project Success, a mentoring program run by 100 Black Men of Atlanta that prepares young people to excel academically, professionally and in civic life.
And there's certainly nothing wrong with standard game-day fare, said a sharp-dressed Fonzworth Bentley, the former personal assistant of Sean "Diddy" Combs and author of "Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence and Style to Get Ahead."
"That is the real thing, sitting outside, barbecuing, sweating," said Bentley, an Atlanta native known as Derek Watkins during his Morehouse College days. Casually elegant in blue jeans, blazer with pocket square and velvet slippers, he caught up with friends Leigh Jones and Tannis Williamson, both Clark Atlanta University alumnae.
(Yes, they both said, he was fabulous even before he became Fonzworth.)
Other notable attendees included Earl Martin and Hiram Little, both members of Atlanta chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. Earlier in the day they participated in the Classic parade, and heads swiveled as the gents made their way through the reception crowd.
"I appreciate all the attention I get," Little said. "I'm not going to lie, I love it. Although sometimes I think it's a little overdone."
"I don't," said Martin.
By GUY CURTRIGHT, For The Tennessean
ATLANTA — Tennessee State kicker Eric Benson fell to the turf in disbelief. He wasn't the only one who couldn't believe it.
"I think if he kicks it 10 times, he'll make it 10 times," Coach James Webster said.
But this was the Atlanta Football Classic, where the games almost always come down to the end and where the Tigers repeatedly have had their hearts broken.
Benson, who had made all five of his previous field-goal attempts this year, was wide left from 27 yards out with four seconds remaining as Florida A&M held on for an 18-17 victory against the Tigers on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
"It was a good snap and a good hold," Webster said. "He just missed it."
With the miss came more frustration for TSU (2-3), which has lost six straight to FAMU (2-2). The past five all have been decided in the final minutes, but this might have been the most disappointing of all for the Tigers.
"I didn't think there was any way we'd miss that kick," said quarterback Antonio Heffner, who had set up the attempt with a 55-yard completion to Chris Johnson that carried the Tigers to the FAMU 5.
With no timeouts remaining, Heffner spiked the ball with eight seconds left. An illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back 5 yards, but it was still almost a chip shot for Benson, who had been the difference in TSU's two victories and kicked a 19-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter.
"I had all the confidence in the world that he'd make that kick," Webster said. "There was nothing in me or about me that made me think he was going to miss that kick. … I was already thinking about squibbing the kickoff."
But there was no kickoff, just jubilation on the FAMU sideline and stunned silence on the TSU side of the field.
"I told him to keep his head up," Heffner said of Benson, who was off limits to the media afterward.
"We just have to trust in God and stay strong."
As far as FAMU Coach Rubin Carter was concerned, the Rattlers' prayers were answered.
"I was thinking, 'Lord, I sure hope he misses this kick,'" Carter said.
Heffner passed for 309 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown strike to Troy Smith on TSU's third play, and ran for 67 with a 1-yard touchdown sneak. But the Tigers couldn't hold an early 11-point lead.
"We keep playing well enough to almost win, but not well enough to do it," the junior said. "It's good to come close I guess, but really frustrating to lose."
By GUY CURTRIGHT, For The Tennessean
ATLANTA — Turnovers didn't cost Tennessee State like they did a week earlier at Southern. On Saturday, it was special-teams problems.
A botched punt snap resulted in a safety just before halftime. An 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by Qier Hall put Florida A&M within three points in the third quarter. And a 20-yard return by Hall later in the third led to what proved to be the winning touchdown in the 18-17 TSU loss.
"That was a big play in the game," TSU Coach James Webster said of the touchdown return, during which Hall eluded the grasp of four would-be tacklers.
The Tigers' only turnover came on a third-quarter fumble by Javarris Williams, who had 87 yards on 19 carries. But quarterback Antonio Heffner did drop a direct snap on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter.
Richardson plays: Despite a sore shoulder and knee, All-OVC defensive end Shaun Richardson played in the second half and had a sack in the fourth quarter.
"We thought we could get one big play out of him," Webster said. "He didn't play in the first half and I don't know if he should have in the second."
Gouch gets start: With Richardson hurting, freshman Branden Gouch got his first college start in his hometown. He went to Therrell High School, just a few miles from the Georgia Dome.
Other homecomings: Gouch was one of four players from Georgia to see plenty of action against FAMU. Nahshon Bigham, a senior from Macon, and Kalvin Baker, a sophomore from Columbus, started a linebacker. Ozzie Harrell, a freshman from the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, played extensively at cornerback.
Time off: The Tigers are idle next weekend before returning to OVC play at Tennessee Tech on Oct. 11, a Thursday night game. TSU, which beat Austin Peay 33-32 in overtime in its OVC opener, defeated Tennessee Tech 30-20 last year in Nashville.
Brian Johnson's three touchdown passes and Dennis Wiehberg's 28-yard field goal gave Howard Coach Carey Bailey his first victory, a 24-21 overtime victory over Winston-Salem State yesterday at Greene Stadium.
In overtime, the Bison (1-3) stymied the Rams (2-3) with three straight sacks by Rudolph Hardie, Jarrett Burgess and James Robinson, and James Carter. The combo sack by Burgess and Robinson knocked Winston-Salem State quarterback Monte Purvis from the game.
On fourth and 42, Howard's Thomas Claiborne intercepted a pass from backup quarterback Jarrett Dunston.
Howard's Terry Perry then rushed for 20 yards on five carries to align Wiehberg for the game-winner. Perry finished with career highs of 87 yards on 23 carries.
Johnson completed 20 of 35 passes for 251 yards, including touchdowns of 12 and four yards to Jarahn Williams, who has a career-high six touchdown receptions this season.
Freshman Xavier Fowler's 32-yard touchdown reception gave the Bison a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter. He also had a 53-yard catch-and-run that set up Howard's second touchdown.
Michael Scarbrough had six receptions for 107 yards and one touchdown for the Rams.
Rams give up three straight sacks, lose 24-21 on field goal
WASHINGTON - Brian Johnson’s three touchdown passes and Dennis Wieh-berg’s 28-yard field goal gave Coach Carey Bailey of Howard his first victory, a 24-21 overtime win over Winston-Salem State yesterday.
In overtime, Howard (1-3) stymied Winston-Salem State (2-3) with three straight sacks, knocking Rams quarterback Monte Purvis out of the game.
On fourth-and-42, Howard’s Thomas Claiborne intercepted a pass from backup quarterback Jarrett Dunston.
Howard’s Terry Perry then rushed for 20 yards on five carries to align Wiehberg for the winning kick.
“Howard stepped up big late in the game and forced us out of our rhythm,” said Coach Kermit Blount of Winston-Salem State.
WSSU 0 7 7 7 0 — 21
Howard 7 7 7 0 3 — 24
Howard—Williams 12 pass from Johnson (Wiehberg kick), 4:15.
Howard—Williams 4 pass from Johnson (Wiehberg kick), 13:26.
WSSU—Kinzer 20 pass from Purvis (M.Mitchell kick), :35.
WSSU—Scarbrough 28 pass from Purvis (M.Mitchell kick), 9:06.
Howard—Fowler 32 pass from Johnson (Wiehberg kick), 4:42.
WSSU—Hubbard 0 run (M.Mitchell kick), 1:14.
Howard—FG Wiehberg 28.
RUSHING—WSSU, Fluellen 17-58, Bines 15-30, Dunston 1-(minus 1), Sherrod 1-(minus 5), Purvis 13-(minus 24). How., Perry 23-87, Johnson 6-17, Whittaker 4-14, Moore 1-3.
PASSING—WSSU, Purvis 14-24-1-261, Dunston 0-3-1-0. How., Johnson 20-35-0-251.
RECEIVING—WSSU, Scarbrough 6-107, Thomas 2-50, Bayne 2-20, Fluellen 1-37, Reaves 1-21, Kinzer 1-20, Bines 1-6. How., Moore 6-44, Williams 4-36, Hood 3-34, Fowler 2-85, Perry 2-14, Whittaker 1-24, Blake 1-8, Duncan 1-6.
Delaware won't elaborate on refusal to play Hornets
Omar Cuff is concerned only with whom the University of Delaware does play in football, not the teams it doesn't play. But when the Blue Hens' All-American tailback was informed last week that UD and Delaware State had never met in a football game, his expression turned curious.
"They never did?" said Cuff, a Landover, Md., resident whose mother has lived in Wilmington for several years. "I do find that kind of strange. They're so close. They're I-AA, just like us?"
Yes, Delaware and Delaware State are both members of NCAA Division I-AA and are located less than an hour apart.
They have never played because UD has been unwilling to schedule the game. As the more established of the two academically and in football, Delaware has less to gain from a UD-DSU matchup than Delaware State, while DSU has craved a game for many years.
The latest overture was made Tuesday, when Delaware State athletic director Rick Costello contacted UD athletic director Edgar Johnson to discuss the possibility of setting up a game.
Johnson told him he was not interested, but both parties agreed to talk further when the football season is over. If the NCAA does not add a 12th game for Division I-AA, there appears to be an opening on UD's schedule in 2012.
Historically, Delaware State schedules its football games no further than one or two years out. That started to change under former AD Chuck Bell, but the Hornets have many dates open in the next few years, unlike UD, which schedules many years in advance.
"I talked to Edgar, and they are not interested at this point," Costello said. "So, we agreed to wait until the season is over. Right now, the best chance is 2012.
"If they're not interested, then we'll just move on."
Costello's predecessors, Bell and former DSU assistant AD Tripp Keister, made overtures to Johnson in 2004 and 2005. They were rebuffed. Bell believed after talking to Johnson that the game never would be played.
Costello remains optimistic.
"Everyone mentioned it to me when I took this job," said Costello, who was hired in June. "I'm hoping, with Delaware's new leadership [president Patrick Harker], it will get done. Unfortunately, the athletic director [Johnson] doesn't want it.
"I'm going to devote time and energy into the things we can control. If they don't want to play us, then we won't play."
Costello said when he does meet with Johnson after the season regarding a matchup, the Hornets won't settle for a one-game deal. He said DSU would be interested only in a contract for a home-and-home series against Delaware, which means the Blue Hens would have to play at Alumni Stadium, which seats just 6,800.
"We'll play anywhere, any place and anytime," Costello said. "But it would have to be a fair and equitable situation."
After DSU's victory over Hampton (ranked No. 13 in I-AA) Saturday, Costello believes this controversy might be canceled out should the Hens and Hornets make the Division I-AA playoffs.
"We feel like we have a lot to offer. ... It would be great for the kids and great for the state," Costello said. "We'd love to play them. We just beat the No. 13-ranked team in the nation. This was a huge win over a top-ranked opponent. Let's savor the moment. If we met in the playoffs ... it would be great."
Johnson said "it's way too premature" to elaborate on the discussions with Costello and that it's his policy not to "kiss and tell."
Cuff said he isn't interested in the politics of the great First State divide. He also doesn't consider it, as some do, a racial issue, especially when he looks around and sees that nearly half of Delaware's football players, such as Cuff, are black.
DSU is a historically black college created late in the 19th Century because of Delaware's segregated education system, which existed until the 1950s.
It's about football, Cuff said. And the more he thought about it, the more logical a football matchup seemed.
"Next year, let's take West Chester [an annual Division II foe] off the schedule and play them [the Hornets]," Cuff said. "... It would be good for the morale of the whole state."
Escaping from UD's shadow
The Hornets have long existed in the Blue Hens' giant football shadow, and a game against them is one way to emerge from it.
Delaware has won six national championships, has had just eight losing seasons since 1940 and has been to the NCAA playoffs 18 times since the format was introduced in 1973.
Delaware State never has made the NCAA postseason.
DSU junior fullback Adam Shrewsbury, a Middletown High graduate who has several friends attending UD, was raised around a line of thinking that claims the Hornets are lower class and unworthy of playing the Hens.
"I guess their reason why [the game isn't played] is, they have nothing to gain from it," Shrewsbury said of UD. "And if we were to go to their house or wherever, all our fans would be there, and they have respect to lose. Like people wouldn't look at them the same, you know what I'm saying? That's just because people look so down on us, like we're not as good of a team and we can't roll with the big boys."
He wonders why people believe the Hornets would be the underdog in a game against the Hens.
"Anybody is beatable on any given day, just like what happened at Michigan [in its loss to I-AA Appalachian State]," Shrewsbury said. "It would definitely be an emotional game. Football's an emotional game. It would be a great game, a very good game to watch. It would be a championship game."
A UD-DSU matchup could occur in the playoffs, since the NCAA intentionally matches teams that are geographically close.
"That would be cool," said UD linebacker J.T. Laws, a Delaware native and William Penn High graduate. "I think it could be good for the state. But, you know, it's not something that is really a big thing to me. It's never been. I wish Delaware State would play Delaware, or the other way around. ... I always thought if they were meant to play, they would play."
Hornets senior defensive lineman Kelly Rouse said he recently has paid close attention to the topic. Looking at each team's current schedule, Rouse wonders why UD seems to believe it is in a different class.
"Personally, I've been reading the comments saying racism still exists here and 'when UD beats Delaware State,' " Rouse said. "They played a Division II school [West Chester] and we played a Division I-A school [Kent State]. They're not playing anybody that we're not playing or who we can't beat. We played a Top 25 team [Coastal Carolina] and a I-A. All they played was a Division II school and a conference opponent [Towson] who almost lost to Morgan State [DSU's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival].
"We're putting our time in, and we'll meet them in the playoffs."
Delaware sophomore receiver Mark Duncan said he's received many e-mails and read numerous stories about the UD-DSU standoff and also would relish seeing it resolved.
"Let's get this whole, big, Delaware thing off our backs and show who's the better team," the Rockville, Md., resident said. "It's something that's getting a lot of attention. Let's settle it on the field."
As for an uncomfortable racial undertone, Duncan doesn't buy it.
"I don't think it's a race thing," he said. "I think Delaware being a predominantly white school and DelState being a predominantly black school, maybe some people are going to feel we're not going to play them because of that. It's easy to say that's what's going on. Maybe that would have been the case when we would have played them in soft helmets, but I know that's not the case now."
Now in his fourth season as DSU's coach, Al Lavan said he's constantly reminded of his predecessors' failure to make the game a reality.
He isn't certain why former DSU coach Bill Collick and former UD coach Tubby Raymond never brought the two programs together.
Collick, a UD graduate, was coach and athletic director at DSU and had a friendly relationship with Raymond, who never pushed for a Hens-Hornets get-together during his reign from 1966 through 2001. Collick made periodic overtures and was rebuffed, but knew he had more important missions.
"We're all proud people," said Collick, now dean of students and football coach at Sussex Tech High. "You want to go to the dance with someone who wants to go with you. I never put a lot of time and effort into [pursuing a game] because I knew better.
"Was it right?" he said of UD's resistance. "I didn't think so. But I knew better. ... There were a lot of positive things we were doing that measured our success."
Lavan said the game could move a step closer to fruition if he and Hens coach K.C. Keeler met.
The two coaches never have been introduced. Perhaps they could set the example, Lavan said.
"Let me put it this way: Students and players will follow leadership," Lavan said. "That's why I've said it's so simple. ... We make it whatever it is, we make it as difficult as it is. It's not complicated. You do what you want to do."
Keeler had been forbidden by higher-ups to comment publicly on the DSU controversy, an example of how sensitive the topic is at UD.
But on Monday he broke that silence and said that DSU fits into his scheduling philosophy of playing more games at 22,000-seat Delaware Stadium.
"If that means Delaware State," Keeler said, "I think it would be great for the state."
Keeler said coaches often get acquainted through recruiting but that Delaware and Delaware State recruit an entirely different set of players. He agreed, however, that he and Lavan could become catalysts in breaking the logjam and setting up a game.
"He's done a great job down there, and I have a lot of respect for what they're doing," Keeler said. "Because of the uniqueness of Delaware, there's a lot of interest in a game."
Lavan said that around 1992 he was asked by a Sports Illustrated reporter his opinion on the lack of black coaches in the NFL. He said the question is similar in tone to the question of why UD won't schedule a game against DSU.
"I said, 'You're really asking the question to the wrong person,' " Lavan said. "Me, I can give you a good answer, but then, so what? What you need to do is ask the guy who's in the decision-making position.
"If I was in the decision-making position, I could give you an answer in three seconds. After that, it's not totally useless but it's insignificant because, in three years, you're going to be asking the same question, until someone wants to get real and not just give you the answer you know is coming even before you ask."
Easy enough to do
Edgar Johnson makes the Blue Hens football schedules. His explanations have followed the same pattern for more than 20 years: The UD schedule is full and Delaware would rather play other schools than DSU. He continues to say Delaware will play Delaware State eventually, but won't say when or why UD has been disinclined so far.
In 2004, when Delaware scheduled conference rival New Hampshire, which it was not required to play that year, in a nonconference game, Johnson said, "We like to play New Hampshire." Likewise, in 2006, UD played league cohort Hofstra in a nonconference game.
Lavan said he believes the national attention brought by a Sept. 20 ESPN.com column, in which UD's resistance was viewed as racially motivated by author and UD graduate Jeff Pearlman, might cause change.
Some wonder, however, if the latest backlash will make UD dig in its heels even more so it isn't perceived as caving in, and thereby agreeing with, the criticism. Johnson isn't saying.
Harker, the new UD president, has pledged to give the issue close scrutiny, with some suggesting his arrival may signal a new way of thinking.
"It sounds complex, but it's not complex," Lavan said. "Just schedule the game."
HAMPTON, Va. -- One special gesture in one sacred place would happen Saturday only if Delaware State was victorious in the one football game it knew it had to win.
On a picture-perfect afternoon at Hampton's Armstrong Stadium, Delaware State helped soothe the pain from the recent shooting of two students on campus by defeating the 13th-ranked Pirates, 24-17, in a game that could help determine the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.
In the wake of the shooting in the early morning hours Sept. 21 that left students Shalita Middleton and Nathaniel Pugh wounded, the Hornets football team found solace in the end zone.
"We thought it was incredibly important to put into context, and that starts with our student-athletes," said DSU coach Al Lavan, who asked band director H. Wade Johnson to have his unit and the DSU cheerleaders join the team in the end zone. "The end zone is a sacred place for us.
"When we came back [the day after the shooting], we all talked about our success and failures as a society. They came back and practiced well [that day]."
Following the game, the Hornets somberly shook hands with Hampton players and then met in the end zone. There, they dedicated the game ball to the shooting victims, the first time under Lavan that someone other than a player received the game ball.
DSU, pursuing its first league championship since winning a share of the 1991 title, finally beat a championship contender on the road.
Photo: Kareem Jones fights his way past Hampton's Henti Baird. Jones rushed for a game-high 135 yards.
The win over Hampton, just the Hornets' second in the past 13 meetings with the Pirates, placed DSU (3-1 overall, 2-0 MEAC) atop the league standings.
It was the first loss for Hampton (3-1, 3-1) this season, and the first against a league opponent since Oct. 21, 2006, against South Carolina State.
The Pirates, looking every bit the team vying for its fourth straight championship, drove 75 yards to open the game, and took a 7-0 lead on Jerry Cummings' 15-yard run with 12:50 to go.
But DSU regrouped and began playing like a contender in the second quarter.
Hornets quarterback Vashon Winton found the end zone on a 1-yard carry early in the second quarter to tie it 7-7 with 11:45 left.
After a Hampton touchdown and a DSU field goal, Winton led a 90-yard drive and capped it with an 11-yard run with 21 seconds remaining in the first half.
Winton, looking to pass, instead found space through the front line, changed direction and scooted to the end zone, just squeaking between a defender and the pylon. The play gave DSU a 17-14 lead.
Winton finished 10-of-16 passing for 131 yards and rushed for 59 yards.
"That changed the game dramatically," Lavan said. "We simply couldn't do enough to make a difference early on."
Photo:The Hampton defense slows down Delaware State quarterback Vashon Winton in the first quarter Saturday. Winton threw for one TD and ran for two more as the Hornets improved to 2-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Hampton tied it 17-17 on Carlo Turavani's 33-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. DSU scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on junior tight end Jeff Postell's 5-yard catch with 11:39 remaining. Postell leaped in the middle of several Hampton defenders but still brought down the ball. He was mauled afterward by teammates.
"I think the [shooting] incident made us more focused to get our goal," Postell said. "And that goal is to win a championship."
Junior running back Kareem Jones, starting his first game since the season opener, rushed for a game-high 135 yards.
Jones said he wasn't certain how his teammates would respond in this game, particularly after a bye week and against a team like Hampton.
"I wasn't sure how the team would react after an incident like this," Jones
BY MARTY O'BRIEN, Daily Press
HAMPTON - When Hampton University football coach Joe Taylor looks at film of the Pirates' 24-17 loss to Delaware State on Saturday, he'll have a lot to consider. Poor offensive line play, an ineffective rushing attack and a lackluster run defense contributed to the Pirates' first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference home defeat in almost four years.
But a pass coverage breakdown and an abundance of penalties bothered Taylor most. The breakdown came on Shaheer McBride's 50-yard reception over the middle early in the fourth quarter.
That set up Vashon Winton's 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Postell with 11 minutes, 39 seconds to play in the game. Postell outjumped three HU defenders in the front corner of the endzone to make an acrobatic catch for the TD that put the Hornets ahead 24-17.
Taylor's mind was more on how open McBride – the MEAC preseason Offensive Player of the Year – got on the reception.
"I don't know how our free safety (Tobin Lyon) didn't know where (McBride) is," Taylor said. "That's the guy. When they threw that, it was a real breaker.
"To not have coverage on him was a mistake."
Among a number of costly ones for the Pirates (3-1, 3-1) whose hopes of winning a fourth consecutive MEAC title are in jeopardy. The Hornets (3-1, 2-0) are trying for their first MEAC crown in 16 years.
"We're going to have to start working harder because we can't just expect teams to come in and lay down against us anymore," HU wide receiver Jeremy Gilchrist said.
Other HU mistakes included 15 penalties for 157 yards. Taylor did not directly criticize the officials, but he appeared frustrated by the number of penalties.
He was most perplexed by a 10-yard penalty assessed when the line judge ran into a Hampton coach along the sideline. That call nullified Van Morgan's 16-yard run – a rare long gainer by a Hampton tailback.
"I've never seen that in my life, in 36 years of coaching," Taylor said of the call. "Fifteen penalties for 157 yards. I'll need to see the film. I just can't believe we're that poor in terms of fundamentals."
The Pirates had plenty of other problems without the penalties. A big one was that the offense seemed to be little more than the pass-catch combination of quarterback T.J. Mitchell and Gilchrist.
The former teammates at Virginia Beach's Landstown High hooked up on eight completions for 177 yards. Mitchell scrambled from heavy pressure to connect with Gilchrist for 59 yards on the opening series.
A play later, Jerry Cummings juked a defender in running 15 yards for a TD to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead. But the running game stalled, netting only 100 yards on 35 attempts.
Injuries hurt. Top tailback Kevin Beverly played only one snap because of a sore toe, while No. 2 tailback Van Morgan was slowed by abdominal pain. Mitchell's 45 yards rushing led the team.
"Until we get a running game, we're going to continue to have problems." Taylor said. "We're going to have to come up with something we can do from a running standpoint and not just with our quarterback.
"The biggest part of it is getting some running backs healthy."
The Pirates must stop the run better, too. Kareem Jones was healthy for the first time in three games, and led the Hornets with 135 yards rushing. His 57-yard run around left end set up Winton's 1-yard score that tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.
Gilchrist receptions of 61, 6 and 11 yards – the last one for a TD – put the Pirates ahead 14-10 late in the first half. But Hornets marched 90 yards, most of it on the ground, to take a 17-14 halftime lead courtesy of Winton's 11-yard run. The Hornets, who gained just 121 yards total in last year's meeting, rushed for 188 on Saturday.
The Pirates managed one sustained drive in the second half, resulting in Carlo Turavani's 33-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 early in the fourth quarter.
But the Hornets struck back quickly on McBride's reception. HU's hopes of rallying, and perhaps of winning the MEAC title, were derailed a porous offensive line, which allowed five second-half sacks.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for our program, our team and our university," Hornets linebacker Russell Reeves said after intercepting one pass and breaking up two others. "Both of us came in here unbeaten in the MEAC so far, and they were champions the last (three) years running.
"To be the champion you've got to beat the champion."
DAYTONA BEACH - In a word, abysmal.
That described the traffic, weather and -- most significantly -- the offense that greeted Bethune-Cookman University's homecoming crowd Saturday at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium.
The Wildcats dropped a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game 33-9 to Morgan State on a rain-soaked field.
B-CU's offense gained 146 yards, including 47 yards in 31 rushing attempts, and committed five turnovers. Meanwhile, the Wildcats' defense, which scored all of the team's points, caved to the pressure in the second half, when it allowed 24 of 27 unanswered points.
"Right now, we're trying to find ourselves. We're going to keep searching and grinding until we get it done," B-CC Coach Alvin Wyatt Jr. said.
The Wildcats (2-3, 0-3 MEAC) got on the board first when James Monds recovered a blocked punt and rambled 24 yards for a touchdown.
Morgan State (2-3, 1-2) answered in the second quarter with Byron Selby's 6-yard touchdown strike to Roderick Wolfe. On the extra-point attempt, Brendan Odom busted through to block the kick, and Ben Ballard recovered and ran the length of the field to give B-CU a 9-6 lead. Morgan State added a 35-yard field goal by James Meade to forge a 9-9 halftime tie.
In the third quarter, the Bears capped a 12-play drive with Selby's 3-yard touchdown run. Morgan State scored again when Selby hit Robert Surratt from 18 yards out to make it 23-9.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the starting date of Bethune-Cookman's slide to the bottom of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
One year ago today, Morgan State handed the Wildcats a 28-14 loss. At the time, nobody could have imagined it was the start of something bad for the Wildcats.
But it's been worse than bad. It's been terrible.
The Bears affirmed last year's victory Saturday with not so much a win, but a thrashing of the Wildcats, beating them 33-9 in front of a homecoming crowd of 10,121 at Municipal Stadium. Rain kept some of the Wildcat faithful away, apparently, and for that they can be thankful.
The Bears scored 27 unanswered points on a day when the Wildcats' offense didn't score a touchdown on homecoming for the first time in 29 years. It marked the worst homecoming loss since a 27-0 shutout by South Carolina State in 1968.
Saturday's setback, as miserable as it may have been, should not have come as a surprise. It extended B-CU's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference losing streak to six games -- three to start this season and three to finish 2006. The Wildcats have now lost eight of their last nine MEAC games.
Turnovers four interceptions and one fumble against Morgan State -- have been a recurring theme. The
Wyattbone offense has taken a leave of absence, or so it appears. The defense, while stiff at times, hasn't been able to handle the difficult situations it has been put in by the struggling offense, and in five of those conference defeats the opposition has scored more than 30 points.
B-CU is now 2-3 overall and 0-3 in the MEAC, a conference that now includes more teams with similar talent than a few years ago. The Wildcats -- an upper echelon team from 2000-2004 -- have slipped in the standings to fifth in '05, sixth in '06 and currently last in '07.
"Right now we're trying to find ourselves," head coach Alvin Wyatt said. "We're searching and we're going to keep grinding until we get it done."
NOT FAR AWAY
As bad as the results -- wins and losses -- have been, in recent weeks the Wildcats have been in position at halftime to win. They led Norfolk State 21-10 last week before falling 38-31, and on Saturday it was 9-9 at halftime before chalkboard adjustments by Morgan State paid dividends against a B-CU defense that finally broke down from overuse. The Bears had just 68 total yards offense in the first half, but added 181 yards, three touchdowns and a field goal in the second half.
The tough part is the Wildcats still have to play four MEAC opponents who beat them the last time they played. That gauntlet includes Thursday night's road opponent Delaware State, which defeated three-time defending conference champ Hampton 24-17 on Saturday.
So what do the Wildcats do now?
"We go back to practice and try to get it right because we're going against Delaware State, who is undefeated in the MEAC and who I think is the best team in our conference," Wyatt said.
As far as who's the worst, it's up to the Wildcats to prove it's not them.
DAYTONA BEACH -- Bethune-Cookman defensive back James Monds expected a tight, low-scoring ball game. And that's exactly what a Wildcats' homecoming crowd of 10,121 witnessed Saturday.
For the first half.
In the second half, B-CU ran into a buzz saw, and Morgan State cruised to a 33-9 victory at Municipal Stadium.
"Everything was happening so fast," said Monds, who scored the Wildcats' only touchdown, returning a blocked punt in the first quarter. "I was asking on the sideline, 'What happened? It was just 9-9. How is it 23-9?' "
Both teams had trouble generating any offense in the first half as they battled to a 9-9 halftime tie with B-CU scoring all of its points on special teams and Morgan State relying on a blocked punt and an interception for its two scores.
But while B-CU's offense continued to sputter and shoot itself in the foot in the second half, the Bears (2-3, 1-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) got on track, forcing the Wildcats (2-3, 0-3) into a desperation passing scheme before the end of the third quarter.
"We wanted to break them out of their offense," Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "When a triple-option team has to go four and five wide, they're not going to be comfortable in that situation."
The Wildcats managed just 149 yards of offense and turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions.
"They have a good defense. That's why they're ranked No. 1 in our conference," B-CU coach Alvin Wyatt said. "They were just much better than us today."
The Bears scored on their first three possessions of the second half to take a 26-9 lead. James Devan's 65-yard run up the middle made it 33-9 with 4:17 left.
"It's just frustrating," said B-CU linebacker Ronnie McCullough, who had a game-high 20 tackles. "The defense played pretty good, but when the offense is struggling we just have to step it up."
The Bears moved ahead for good on their first possession of the second half, driving 55 yards on 12 plays with quarterback Byron Selby scoring on a 3-yard run. After holding B-CU on downs, Selby's 18-yard rollout pass to Robert Surratt made it 23-9.
A Matt Johnson interception then gave the Bears the ball at B-CU's 17, and James Meade kicked his second field goal to put the Bears up 26-9 with 9:55 left in the game.
"The difference was they got (the ball) in good field position," Wyatt said. "The score was tied, so they didn't have to be in a hurry to do anything. They took their time, and they just grinded the ball down the field on us."
The Wildcats held Chad Simpson, the MEAC's leading rusher with 798 yards, to 98 yards and no touchdowns.
Photo: MSU #2 Chad Simpson gains 98 yards on the Wildcats defense.
Now the Wildcats have to quickly regroup for a Thursday night game at MEAC leader Delaware State, a game that will be televised nationally by ESPNU.
"This was a difficult homecoming loss," McCullough said. "But we have to come right back. We're not going to fold up."
Questions & attitude
How was the officiating?
It may have cost Bethune-Cookman a victory last week at Norfolk State and caused the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to suspend three officials for one game, but it was not a factor in B-CU's 33-9 loss to Morgan State on Saturday.
The Bears were called for nine penalties for 88 yards, while the Wildcats were flagged six times for 63 yards, which is not a lot, but almost half as many yards as B-CU's offense produced in the game.
What's wrong with the offense?
You name it. The line struggled. The quarterbacks struggled. Running back Justin Brannon missed the game with a high ankle sprain, and without him, the Wildcats ran for just 47 yards. Quarterback Jimmie Russell, who came into the game with a team-high 358 yards rushing, was held to minus-4 yards on 16 carries Saturday. It didn't help that three B-CU quarterbacks combined for four interceptions.
If the Wildcats were so hapless on offense, how were they able to go into halftime with a 9-9 tie?
Morgan State's offense was just as bad in the first half. B-CU tallied 72 yards and converted 1 of 6 first downs, while Morgan State had just 68 yards and went 0 for 7 on first downs. And B-CU's defense played well, even in the second half, when it was on the field most of the time. The Wildcats had 10 tackles for losses in the game.
Jimmie Russell was replaced by Matt Souverain in both the first and second half. Is the quarterback job now up for grabs?
B-CU coach Alvin Wyatt said Russell is still the starting quarterback. Souverain is the quarterback the 'Cats use when they are far behind and forced to abandon the triple-option offense in favor of a four-wide receiver set.
Photo: BCU Marching Wildcat Band
Representing South Florida
Morgan State has nearly as many players from South Florida as Bethune-Cookman does. The Bears boast 16 players from Broward and Dade counties, while the Wildcats have 21 from the South Florida area that produces so much gridiron talent.
Morgan State picked off four Bethune-Cookman passes in its 33-9 victory Saturday. Lamar West, Kofi Nkrumah, Kendall Jackson, and Dakota Bracey each grabbed an interception. Three different Wildcat quarterbacks contributed as Jimmie Russell threw two interceptions, and McKinson Souverain and Matt Johnson each misfired once. For Johnson, it was his first collegiate pass.
A Busy Day
B-CU linebacker Ronnie McCullough was one busy Wildcat. The senior who came to B-CU via South Florida registered 20 tackles, including six solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. It was the most tackles by a Wildcat since Jamal Muhammad had 20 in a loss to Morgan State in 2003.
Two Tough Points
B-CU's Ben Ballard scored two points the hard way. Ballard scooped up the football after Brendan Odom blocked a Morgan State point-after kick and went the distance for only the second PAT return in school history. Ballard's return gave B-CU a 9-6 lead with just under 6 minutes left in the first half.
B-CU tried a different wrinkle early in the game by having 280-pound tackle De'Juan Guillory line up at fullback. Guillory made a couple of solid blocks, but wasn't a threat to carry the football.
By MIKE POTTER, The Herald-Sun
N.C. Central's defense had gained a reputation for wreaking havoc on opponents' passing all season, but the Eagles hadn't seen a running game like the one Presbyterian put together Saturday.
NCCU managed three touchdowns in the final eight minutes, but when it was over the Eagles were looking at the losing end of a 34-27 score at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Blue Hose sophomore S.J. Worrell rushed for a career-high 154 yards, while quarterback Tim Webb -- starting in place of starter Grayson Mullins, who did not make the trip for reasons that were not announced -- completed 16 of 23 passes for three touchdowns.
"They played us tough until the very end," Blue Hose coach Bobby Bentley said. "With our No. 1 quarterback out, we decided to put more emphasis on the running game today, and I thought we did a good job."
NCCU quarterback Stadford Brown completed 26 of 47 passes for 372 yards -- both career bests -- and three touchdowns with one interception. Will Scott caught eight passes for 134 yards, both career highs, including two for touchdowns. Freshman Deshawn Spears had season highs of nine catches and 103 yards.
"I'm proud of my team because, once again, we didn't quit," NCCU coach Mose Rison said. "We got behind and knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but we kept playing.
"And I can't say enough about Stadford's game. He's a gutsy quarterback and a good football player."
The game was NCCU's first at home as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision against a fellow FCS member. The two schools are the only members of the NCAA in their first season at this level, and this was the first win against an FCS team for the Blue Hose (2-3). The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Eagles (4-2).
The Eagles scored on their first drive, going 70 yards in 11 plays as Brown connecting with Spears from 15 yards out. Taylor Gray's kick gave NCCU a 7-0 lead with 9:04 left in the quarter.
Presbyterian tied the score with 14:20 left in the half, as Chetyuane Reeder scored from 6 yards out to complete a 13-play, 70-yard march.
The Blue Hose scored again on their next series, with Reeder going in from the 1 to finish a 15-play, 78-yard drive that included a pair of fourth-down conversions.
But the biggest play of the first half came with 1:57 to go, when the Eagles' Tim Shankle came up short on fourth-and-goal from the Presbyterian 3.
NCCU was deep in Blue Hose territory again late in the third period after Tyrone Williams' 21-yard interception return gave the Eagles the ball at the Presbyterian 49. But Brown was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-6 at the 16.
The Blue Hose responded with a 10-play, 84-yard drive. Webb hit Larry Thomas for a 17-yard scoring pass, helping make it 21-7 with 12:07 left in the game.
Presbyterian scored an important insurance touchdown less than a minute later after Brown fumbled at NCCU's 7-yard line and PC's Antwan Thomas recovered. Two plays later, Webb found Larry Thomas in the back of the end zone, and after Cam Miller's kick was blocked, the Blue Hose led 27-7 with 11:30 to go.
The Eagles scored again with 7:38 as Shankle went in from 2 yards out. Gray missed the conversion kick, and Presbyterian's Chris Robinson covered the onside kick to end the drama.
The Blue Hose took four plays to take the ball 39 yards for a score, with Webb hitting Jordan High alumnus Robert Bumgarner from 17 yards out for the first catch of his career. Miller's boot stretched the lead to 34-13 with 6:05 remaining.
"And [it was] the first touchdown catch of my life," Bumgarner said with a laugh. "It felt pretty good to be the first option and score a touchdown in my hometown.
"Central has a great football team, but our defense made the plays we needed for them to make."
NCCU cut the margin to two touchdowns when Brown hit Brandon Alston from 25 yards out with 4:36 left for the Hillside alum's first touchdown reception. This time, Gray made the point-after kick, and Tyrone Williams recovered the onside kick to give the Eagles life.
The Eagles cut the margin to 34-27 with 3:22 left, as Brown connected with Scott from 43 yards out.
"At least we never quit," Scott said. "No matter what, we don't quit."
Presbyterian recovered the onside kick but ran out of downs at the NCCU 25 with 1:24 left. The result wasn't decided until Antwan Thomas broke up a Brown pass on fourth-and-14 from the Presbyterian 45.
"We just turned it on too late," Brown said. "I'm proud of the way we came back. Both Scott and Spears made a lot of big catches today.
"But the bottom line is we lost. Whether it was by an inch or a mile, we lost."
NOTES -- The Eagles were without one unnamed player, suspended for his role in the fight after last week's victory over North Carolina A&T. The suspended player apparently was not in NCCU's two-deep. ... NCCU will have an open date Saturday before hosting North Greenville for homecoming on Oct. 13. Presbyterian hosts North Greenville on Saturday.
Attendance: 6, 109
FORT VALLEY - Savannah State is no longer No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) in the sacks allowed category.
SSU entered Saturday's game against Fort Valley State having not given up a sack through three games, and the Tigers were tied with Yale, which had not given up a sack through two games.
But FVSU's defense sacked SSU quarterback Greg McCrary five times for minus-44 yards in the Wildcats' 33-2 victory.
"Obviously, we were not ready to come in here and play," SSU second-year coach Theo Lemon said. "We showed that. We didn't play well on either side of the ball, offensively or defensively, or on special teams. We fumbled the ball too many times and we just didn't execute."
Trent Newton, who transferred to FVSU after leading SSU in tackles in each of the past two seasons, did not dress for Saturday's game.
Newton, a linebacker from Lakeland, Fla., is being redshirted this season, according to FVSU sports information director Russell Boone.
When SSU running back Reginald May fumbled during the Tigers' first drive of the game it marked the second consecutive game that SSU has lost the ball to start the game.
SSU quarterback JaCorey Kilcrease fumbled two weeks ago against Bethune-Cookman.
FVSU junior Garrett Williams did not start at quarterback for the first time this season for the Wildcats (4-2).
Williams, who was SSU's starting quarterback in each of the past two seasons, was intercepted four times the previous Saturday in a 34-3 loss at Tuskegee (Ala.) University.
FVSU second-year coach Deondri Clark started Nate Samas, a sophomore from Americus, against SSU.
"He had a better week in practice," Clark said of Samas.
Williams started the second half because Clark said he felt Samas was struggling. FVSU staked a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Lemon said he was not surprised that Williams did not start the game.
"He threw four interceptions last week," Lemon said. "I didn't expect him to start. But I expected to see him at some point in the game, and we did."
Williams ran for a 9-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give FVSU a 16-0 lead. It was his first collegiate rushing touchdown.
SSU defensive back Javorris Jackson, whose brother, Grady, is a defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons, delivered the fiercest hit of the season when he leveled FVSU wide receiver Melvin Atueyi to break up a pass in the second quarter.
Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 216-pound junior transfer from Southfield, Mich., hit Atueyi so hard that he sent the 6-foot-5, 205-pound senior's helmet flying. Atueyi needed the assistance of two FVSU trainers in order to hobble off the field.
FVSU's FSU connection
Clark, defensive coordinator Dedrick Dodge, and defensive line coach Carl Simpson all played at Florida State under legendary coach Bobby Bowden.
Clark, a former defensive lineman, helped the Seminoles to a 42-7 record during his four-year career. FSU also won four consecutive bowl games and never finished lower than fourth in The Associated Press poll.
Saturday, Clark wore a bow-tie, his trademark.
Before arriving at FVSU, Clark was the head coach at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. He helped to revive the Bears' football program, which had been dormant from 1979 until 2002. Clark guided Shaw to a 7-3 record in 2003, his inaugural season, a 10-2 record in 2004 and a 4-3 record in 2005.
Last season, his first at FVSU, the Wildcats finished 5-6.
FVSU is 34-11-4 against SSU. Before Saturday's game, the last time the teams played was 2002 - SSU's final year in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference - and FVSU won, 25-6.
SSU has not beaten FVSU since 2000, when the Tigers won, 37-13.
Bulldogs gobble up ground
Alabama A&M's running game, which was limited to 30 yards rushing in a 31-6 loss last week at Grambling, showed up Saturday afternoon against Texas Southern.
The Bulldogs finished with a season-high 308 yards on 46 carries as five different players had 30 or more yards.
Ulysses Banks led with 112 yards on 17 carries. Anthony Green had 60 yards on nine carries, Generion McWhorter had 40 yards on three carries, Kevin McCants had 39 yards on four carries and quarterback Kelcy Luke had 32 yards on eight carries.
Harris on the move
Thomas Harris, a sophomore wide receiver, was involved in the running game early on.
On Alabama A&M's second play from scrimmage, Harris went 22 yards on a reverse that helped set up Banks' 9-yard touchdown run.
Cummings a force early
Defensive end Dominique Cummings has played behind Chris Traylor for much of his career, but the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder made his presence felt early against Texas Southern.
Cummings had a pass breakup on the Tigers' second possession of the game to force a field goal and later in the first quarter came up with his first sack of the season when he dropped quarterback Tino Edgecombe for a 6-yard loss.
Unfortunately for A&M, the Tigers came back to score on the next play as Edgecombe found B.J. Haith with a 32-yard touchdown pass.
Donaldson swipes pass No. 2
Free safety Al Donaldson took over the team lead in interceptions early in the second quarter.
Donaldson, a junior from Crawfordsville, Fla., picked off an Edgecombe pass early in the second quarter that led to a 12-yard touchdown pass from Luke to Gerald Stockdale.
Donaldson, who had four tackles and three pass breakups, now has two interceptions on the season. He had one in the season opener against Tennessee State that also led to a touchdown.
Luke picked off again
Luke threw his fourth interception of the season on Alabama A&M's first possession of the second quarter.
The Bulldogs had moved from their own 31 to a first down at the Texas Southern 40. Two plays later, facing a third-and-four from the 34, Luke's poorly thrown ball, intended for Rashad Johnson, was picked off by Texas Southern's Chris Salvant.
Luke threw just eight interceptions all of last season.
McWhorter an opportunist
McWhorter, a fullback, hadn't gotten many opportunities through Alabama A&M's first four games, but he had made the most of them.
Going into Saturday's game, McWhorter had only 40 yards on five carries, but was averaging a whopping 8.0 yards per carry. He topped that average in the first half against Texas Southern.
A 5-foot-10, 208-pound redshirt freshman out of Jasper, McWhorter had 40 yards on three carries, including a 27-yard jaunt to help set up Luke's 12-yard touchdown pass to Stockdale midway through the second quarter.
Stockdale scores his first TD
Saturday was a big day for Stockdale.
A 6-2, 223-pound junior from Talladega, hadn't scored a touchdown during his career. However, that all changed when quarterback Luke found Stockdale with a 12-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter.
"I saw the coverage a couple of plays before the touchdown," said Stockdale, who had three catches for 37 yards.
"I knew Kelcy was going to get it to me quick and I had to get in the end zone."
Harper picks off Edgecombe
Not only did defensive tackle Justin Harper make his first start of the season Saturday against Texas Southern, he also got his first career interception.
Harper, who lost his job to Whitney Garrett last spring and underwent surgery during the preseason on his left thumb, had a sack early in the third quarter and then recorded his first interception early in the fourth quarter.
Edgecombe's pass was tipped by defensive end Traylor and Harper was there to pick it off.
"I almost dropped it," Harper said. "It rolled around in my hands, but I finally got a hold of it."
Opponents are ex-teammates
Alabama A&M defensive back Stephan Tucker and Texas Southern's Edgecombe were former teammates during their Pop Warner football days in Miami.
"We were real cool," Tucker remembered.
Tucker was 2-1 against Edgecome entering Saturday's game.
"I just want to win," he said. "I'm not worried about any personal battles. I just want to get this win and go on to the next game."
Tucker forced Edgecombe to fumble early in the third quarter and recovered it. He finished with four tackles. Edgecombe completed 29-of-59 passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
However, Tucker came away with a 48-24 victory.
Praise for Bulldogs
Texas Southern quarterback Steve Wilson said Alabama A&M was the best team the Tigers have faced in the Southwestern Athletic Conference because of Luke.
"There's a lot of things you can do with a senior quarterback," Wilson said. "He's the difference. He's a good runner, a good passer and he checks off well at the line of scrimmage.
"As long as they keep him healthy, they'll have a chance."
The 28 points A&M scored in the first half were the most the Bulldogs have scored in the first half this season. ... Luke has thrown at least three touchdown passes in four of A&M's five games this season. ... A&M place-kicker Jeremy Licea has made eight straight field goals dating back to last year's Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game.
A&M offense roars again for landslide homecoming win
There would be no upset this time around. Alabama A&M's offense made sure of that.
The Bulldogs scored on four of their first five possessions, rolled up more than 500 yards in total offense and simply overpowered Texas Southern on homecoming Saturday afternoon.
When it was over, A&M ran off to celebrate a 48-24 victory before an announced crowd of 13,745 at Louis Crews Stadium and exorcised some demons from two years ago when the Tigers came to town and spoiled homecoming with a shocking 17-7 win.
"We couldn't let it happen," said offensive lineman James Sanders, referring to another homecoming loss. "I wasn't going to let it happen."
Sanders and the rest of his offensive linemates certainly did their part.
A week after managing only 147 yards in a 31-6 loss to Grambling, A&M dominated Texas Southern's porous defense.
How good were the Bulldogs?
A&M finished with 514 yards in total offense and 33 first downs.
Tailback Ulysses Banks finished with 112 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown.
It is the third time in five games Banks has topped the 100-yard mark this season.
A&M finished with 308 yards rushing on 46 carries as five different players had 30 or more yards. A&M averaged a whopping 6.7 yards per carry.
Quarterback Kelcy Luke completed 19-of-34 passes for 206 yards and an interception, not overly impressive numbers, but he threw four touchdown passes.
Seven players caught passes, including four with three or more.
"We needed this," Luke said. "This puts us back on track. We wanted to show people we are the same team that put up big numbers the first three weeks."
The win lifted A&M to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Texas Southern fell to 0-5 and 0-4.
The Bulldogs started fast.
After forcing Texas Southern to punt on its first possession, Luke engineered an eight-play, 77-yard drive to put A&M on the board.
Banks, who had 45 yards on four carries on the drive, capped it with a 9-yard run less than three minutes into the game.
The Tigers trimmed the margin to 7-3 after Djavan Conway kicked a 30-yard field goal, but Luke found tight end John Smith with a 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulldogs up 14-3. A&M extended its lead to 21-3 when Luke hit Thomas Harris with a 20-yard touchdown pass with just less than three minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs had 206 yards in total offense in the first quarter, including 137 yards on the ground. Banks had 82 of them on nine carries.
"We wanted to establish our running game and then put them back on their heels and take advantage of whatever opportunities we had through the air," A&Mcoach Anthony Jones said.
The plan worked perfectly.
Luke found Gerald Stockdale with a 12-yard touchdown pass to put A&M ahead 28-10 midway through the first half. Texas Southern responded with a 15-play, 69-yard drive to pull to within 28-17 at intermission, but couldn't get any closer.
The Bulldogs scored 20 unanswered points in the second half and won going away.
"We got to within 11 before halftime and felt good about that, but they came out and made some more plays," Texas Southern coach Steve Wilson said. "We knew they would be fired up.
"Offensively, they've got a good scheme. Their tight ends did a good job and they converted a lot of first downs.
"That was the difference in the game."
A&M place-kicker Jeremy Licea booted a 32-yard field goal to make it 31-17 early in the third quarter.
Luke found Thomas near the end of the quarter with a 27-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulldogs ahead 38-17.
Licea added another field - a career-long 42-yarder - early in the fourth quarter and fullback Kevin McCants' 30-yard jaunt rounded out the scoring for A&M.
"This gets our hopes up," said Harris, who had six catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns. "This was a confidence builder for us after last week's game."
"We needed this win," he said. "That wasn't our team last week."
The win offset a strong effort from Texas Southern's Tino Edgecombe, who completed 29-of-59 passes for 352 yards. He threw three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions.
Wide receiver B.J. Haith had nine catches for 133 yards and a touchdown, and Roland Robins had seven catches for 73 yards.
"(Edgecombe) was as good as he could be," Jones said. "We battered him.
"He made some plays, but we forced him into some bad throws and turnovers."
MOBILE, Ala. — Late in the first half, Alabama State quarterback Alex Engram told Southern strong safety Glenn Bell, after Bell squared him up for a tackle in the open field, the next time would be different.
Bell disagreed. And, it turns out, Bell was right.
Midway through the third quarter, Bell unloaded on Engram as he tried to make a play with his legs around the left end. Engram got 3 yards to the Southern 2-yard line on third-and-goal. But Bell knocked him out of bounds and out for the next play after trainers helped the wobbly quarterback across the field to the Alabama State sideline.
Rahmod Taylor was then stopped at the 1-yard line on the next play and Southern took possession.
That goal-line stand, with 8:42 left in the third quarter, was the exclamation point to a day in which Southern’s defense paved the way for a 21-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference victory over Alabama State Saturday in the 34th Gulf Coast Classic at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
“Just before halftime, when I tackled him in the open field, he said, ‘Next time, five, I’m going to run over you.’ I was like, ‘Next time, you won’t get up.’ It just so happened, the next time was on the goal line, and he didn’t get up,” said Bell, named the game’s defensive MVP after totaling 10 tackles and one breakup. Bell wears No. 5.
To his credit, Engram, verified the back-and-forth jawing and gave Bell and the SU defense respect.
“It was a bootleg pass,” Engram said. “I was looking for my guy. He didn’t show up, so I tried to run and make a play. The guy gave me a lick, that’s all. He’s a good athlete. They have a good defense.”
Photo: SU’s Vince Lands (33) and Gary Chapman (39) pressure ASU quarterback Alex Engram.
The clash of SWAC unbeatens was in no way an offensive masterpiece. But it was a day for gritty defense.
Southern (5-0, 3-0 SWAC) turned the ball over four times (getting one back on a wild play in which the Alabama State defender who recovered the initial fumble subsequently fumbled himself) in the first half and five times overall.
Plus, SU had minus-6 yards, with two three-and-outs, an interception and a safety in the end zone in the third quarter. And SU had a first-quarter rushing touchdown wiped out by a holding penalty.
Southern scored twice in the second quarter — on a 21-yard touchdown run by Brian Threat (12:35 before halftime) and a 3-yard quarterback keeper by Lee (4:36 before halftime) — to take a 14-0 halftime lead.
Because of Alabama State’s solid defense, the Jaguars couldn’t get any continuity until deep in the fourth quarter, when the offense flipped field position with a strong drive and iced the game with Lee’s 23-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Gerard Landry.
Lee, who hadn’t thrown an interception in his previous five starts, tied a career high with three Saturday, but he still threw for 242 yards and one touchdown. And running back Darren Coates, the game’s offensive MVP, ran for 67 yards and had a career-best 119 receiving yards. His 51-yard catch set up Lee’s TD pass to Landry.
“I’m proud of the effort of my football team,” Southern coach Pete Richardson said. “We had to play hard for 60 minutes. We knew they had won quite a few games in the second half, so we had to stay with our game plan.”
Alabama State (4-1, 3-1), meanwhile, alternated quarterbacks because of a staphylococcus infection to the right knee of Chris Mitchell, who had started the previous three games. Mitchell was 2-for-19 for 17 yards and two interceptions, while Engram was 6-for-14 for 67 yards. SU broke up 10 passes, including five by linebacker Gary Chapman, whose fourth-quarter interception ended Alabama State’s last possession.
Alabama State running back Jay Peck, a first-team All-SWAC selection last season who leads the conference in rushing, had 35 yards on 16 carries — his lowest total since last season’s opener against Troy, when he had 20 yards and had yet to make a name for himself.
“We had to shut down that running back,” Richardson said. “We played a lot of eight-man fronts.”
All told, Alabama State, the team that had made four fourth-quarter comebacks, outscoring foes 46-23 in the period, had zero points for the first time all season. Alabama State’s only points came one play after SU’s goal-line stand, with linebacker Leland Jones Jr. tackling Coates in the end zone with 8:37 left in the third quarter.
SU played without its top tackler, linebacker Johnathan Malveaux (high ankle sprain), who didn’t make the trip. The Jaguars defense has allowed just two second-half touchdowns this season. It was the second time this season that the Jaguars defense could claim a “moral shutout.” Previously, the unit had underscored a 12-2 victory over Prairie View.
“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Landry said. “They played their heart out every down. They didn’t quit. Things didn’t go their way, but they kept fighting, kept fighting. The offense, we kept going three-and-out, but they didn’t complain. I can’t say enough.”
“The defense pumped us up, and we got it done,” Lee said.
Alabama State fumbled at the SU 31 and missed a 22-yard field-goal try in the second quarter. Then, the Hornets offense held the ball for 11 minutes in the third quarter and came away empty — turning the ball over on downs at the Southern 1 and SU 16 with 4:22 left in the third quarter and at the SU 18 with 12:26 left in the fourth quarter, with Chapman making his interception on the last Alabama State possession.
“I’ll be honest with you, we didn’t really have a great week of practice,” SU defensive coordinator Terrence Graves said. “We talked with them (Friday night) and told them the practice week was over; we have to go out and set the tone.”
A week earlier, SU’s defense gave up a series of big plays as the Jaguars fell behind by 21 points. But the offense came alive and the defense clamped down as SU went on to a 41-34 victory over Tennessee State.
“We’re a team,” Bell said. “Last week, we weren’t playing too well, and the offense caught our slack. ... We play together as a team, and that’s why we win.”
“It was just a testament,” Graves said. “They made the determination they weren’t going to let those guys score. All the credit goes to those guys.”
Gulf Coast Classic: Attendance - 16,130
Special to the Montgomery Advertiser
MOBILE -- Before the season, Alabama State head football coach Reggie Barlow chose the theme: "Push it to the Limit," which turned out to be quite apropos, as each of the first four games came down to pivotal plays in the final few minutes.
In the Gulf Coast Classic -- against a formidable Southern defense -- the Cinderella season hit its first bit of adversity as ASU simply ran out of magic dust and fell 21-2 to Southern on Saturday.
"It was a tough game," Barlow said. "We were really bad on offense. We moved the ball, but we couldn't take advantage of the opportunities."
Alabama State quarterbacks Alex Engram and Chris Mitchell combined to go 8-of-33 for only 84 yards and two interceptions. Southern's Bryant Lee, who had not thrown an interception in 183 consecutive attempts, tossed three picks during a 16-of-29, 242-yard performance.
Between the teams, there were 14 punts and eight turnovers.
Still, the Jaguars made just enough big plays to get an important SWAC win. However, the ASU defense would get none of the blame from Barlow.
"Those guys (ASU defense) are great," he said. "They play so hard, but we just didn't get them any help from the other side of the ball."
Rechard Johnson tallied 10 tackles, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and broke up a pass. Not to be outdone, Leland Jones had his breakout game of the season with seven tackles -- including two for loss -- forced a fumble, broke up a pass and picked up a quarterback hurry. Also, his third-quarter tackle of Chad Harris in the end zone accounted for the Hornets' only points of the night.
"We don't care what happens, we are one team," Jones said. "If one side of the ball is struggling, it's our responsibility as teammates to pick them up. That's what we do for each, and that's what we'll do this week as we get ready for Jackson State."
The Hornets will travel to Jackson, Miss., to take on the Tigers at 3 p.m.
State Fair Classic - Attendance: 55,878
DALLAS — Senior kicker Tim Manuel nailed a 19-yard field goal with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter as the Grambling State Tigers held off a furious second-half charge by Prairie View A&M for a 17-14 victory Saturday night.
The game remained scoreless for most of the first half until Grambling State (3-1) mounted a 12-play, 71-yard drive that had an interesting ending.
The Tigers drove to Prairie View's 3 but came up short after quarterback Larry Kerlegan was stopped at the 3. On fourth-and-goal with the team lined up in field goal formation with 1 second left, GSU gambled and executed a perfect fake field goal capped off with a Kovarus Hill shuffle pass to John Carter.
The Tigers went up 14-0 margin at the 7:36 mark in the third quarter when quarterback Brandon Landers found wideout Clyde Edwards in the end zone for a 41-yard score.
Then Prairie View (2-2) rallied.
Quarterback Mark Spivey passed 38 yards to Shaun Stephens to cut the deficit to 14-7 early in the quarter. On GSU's next drive, Gary Hicks intercepted a Landers' pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
The Tigers then went into ball- control mode and rode the backs of freshmen running backs Cornelius Walker and Frank Warren. The duo, who set up Manuel's game-winning field goal, combined to lead the Tigers on a 16-play, 76-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock.
Prairie View had a chance to tie but Nigel Copeland blocked a 57-yard field goal attempt to seal the victory.
Grambling's Cornelius Walker rushed for 109 yards, and Brandon Landers passed for 173 yards and a touchdown.
Clyde Edwards, who caught seven passes for 100 yards, hauled in a 41-yard TD from Landers that put the Tigers ahead 14-0 midway through the third.
Mark Spivey threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Shaun Stephens that brought Prairie View within 14-7 with 11:02 remaining.
Less than a minute later, Gary Hicks intercepted a pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.
Grambling then drove for the winning score by converting all three of its third down conversions on a 76-yard drive.
Walker's 23-yard run to the 3 set up Manuel's game-winning kick.