Miles misses playoffs despite win
Chambers' field goal wins SIAC title for the Golden Bears
The wow factor from Miles’ stunning 20-17 upset of Albany State in the inaugural Southeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title game is still rippling throughout the conference. Just how did Miles with a first-year coach knock off ASU, arguably the best team in the conference and who everyone assumed would make a seventh consecutive trip to the division II playoffs?
The Rams missed their potential game-winning field goal and Miles didn’t. When Patton Chambers made a 29-yard field goal with nine seconds left, that sealed the win for Miles, it marked the first time since 2000 that someone other than ASU or Tuskegee won the SIAC champion.
The selection committee, however, were not impressed. Sunday, ASU’s playoff streak was extended when it -- not Miles -- was picked as the conference’s lone playoff representative. The Rams (8-3) will play Saturday at North Greenville.
How surreal was ASU making the playoffs for a 15th time in school history following its loss? So much so that its players thought all was lost, too.
“I was definitely looking forward to the playoffs but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” Stanley Jennings, ASU’s quarterback said. “I wish it would have because we have a strong team and I think we could have made a run.”
The most improbable one goes to Miles (7-4) owed one this season. This season was just the school’s fourth winning season since 1963. The championship game was also the first time Miles had beaten ASU since 2002.
“When I interviewed for the job, we didn’t talk about just competing,” Reginald Ruffin, Miles’ head coach, said. “We talked about winning, and winning right now.”
MEAC: It was a historic Saturday for Norfolk State as well. Quarterback Chris Walley passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Norfolk State defense held Morgan State scoreless in the second half to lead the Spartans to a 47-14 win -- its first-ever outright MEAC football title and FCS playoff bid.
The Spartans (9-2, 7-1 MEAC) won its fifth conference football title of any kind, and its first since the 1984 team won the last of four CIAA titles while competing in Division II. NSU’s nine wins are the second-most in school history behind the 1984 team, which finished 10-2.
“I’m so proud of our players right now for working as hard as they have and making history like this,” Norfolk State’s head coach Peter Adrian said. “The chemistry on this team is great. They’ve been a special group to coach. All they talk about is winning, not about personal goals. They'll go down in history.”
NSU also secured the MEAC’s automatic berth in the FCS playoffs, which begins on Nov. 26. NSU has a bye this week, the final week of the regular season, before learning its playoff fate on Nov. 20.
CIAA: Winston-Salem State wrapped up a perfect season when it exploded for 28 second-half points and went on to beat Elizabeth City, 38-18, to win the CIAA championship game at Durham, N.C.
Winston-Salem State, who got 165 yards and three touchdowns from Nic Cooper, finished the regular season 11-0. It was the school’s ninth football championship and first since 2000.
Elizabeth City ends the regular season at 8-3, but its season is not over as it made the division II playoff. Saturday, the Vikings, seeded No. 4, will play at No. 5 seed California (Pa.). California, West co-champion of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference, will host despite being a lower seed because Elizabeth City did not submit a bid to host the game. If the Vikings win, it will play a familiar foe in Winston-Salem State, who is the No. 1 seed and earned a first round bye.
SWAC: The word of the week is IF in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. After last week’s play division championships remain unsettled. The race for the Eastern Division remained status quo with the top two eligible teams both lost -- Alabama State (7-3, 7-2) defeating Southern 26-23 and Alabama A&M (7-3, 6-2)defeating Jackson State 34-6. JSU (8-2, 6-2) is ineligible for the title because of academic deficiencies.
Grambling (6-4, 5-3) and Prairie View (5-5, 5-3) stayed tied atop the Western Division. GSU squeaked by Texas Southern 29-25 and PV (5-5, 5-3) blew out Alcorn 40-14.
That sets up a series of permutations that could take two weeks to shake out. Games that will factor into the division races will be Alabama A&M at Prairie View and Texas Southern at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5-5, 4-4), who is a game back of GSU and PV. Depending on what happens Saturday, Alabama State’s Turkey Day Classic game against Tuskegee and GSU’s matchup with Southern in the Bayou Classic could also factor into the picture.