Albany State falls in the first round
Rams have lost eight consecutive first-round matches
Last Saturday, the Division II playoffs turned out to be brief cameos for HBCU teams.
Elizabeth City State and Albany State saw strong seasons end with even stronger losses as they were routed by 44 and 49 points respectively. Elsewhere in HBCU action, significant matchups were all over.
SIAC: Albany State’s game against North Greenville was one for the record books and not in a good way. In a game at Tigerville, S.C., the Rams, runner up in the Southern Intercollegiate Conference title game, were blown out 63-14 by North Greenville.
It was the same sad first round story for the Rams (8-4). Coming into the game Albany State had lost it last eight first round games over the past decade. That streak lives on. More dubious records would also fall. The 49-point loss was Albany State’s third-worst in school history, the worst postseason loss ever, and the worst loss in head coach Mike White’s tenure -- all at the hands of a team playing its first playoff game in it first season of Division II eligibility.
Demonstrators around the country should take a page from the Crusaders (10-2). They Occupied The End Zone in virtually every way imaginable and buried Albany State with an impressive first half.
They led 21-0 midway through the second quarter before its special teams kicked in with a 62-yard punt return. After going ahead 35-0, allowed Albany States’s lone score before immediately answering that touchdown with a 75-yard kickoff return and a 42-7 lead.
“We just keep getting better every week, and I think we showed yet another complete game this week,” Jamey Chadwell, NGU head coach, said. “Our defense has been solid all week, but our special teams were awesome today. That’s the first time we’ve scored on a punt return and a kickoff return in the same game, so we were clicking on all cylinders.”
Its defense smothered the Rams intercepting four passes – three from starter Stanley Jennings and held ASU to minus-11 yards rushing. ASU had just 55 yards in total offense.
CIAA: After what happened to it Saturday afternoon, Elizabeth City State would have really liked it if California (Pa.) had held the Mayo – and the Smith for that matter. Thomas Mayo and running back Lamont Smith each scored three touchdowns in a 44-0 blasting of the Vikings.
"They are a very excellent football team," Waverly Tillar, Elizabeth City State head coach, said. "They match up well with Winston Salem State. That could be a great game."
Elizabeth City State’s best scoring opportunity went by the boards when Rickey Jarman’s 33-yard first quarter field goal attempt was blocked. Running back Daronte McNeill was stopped on a season-low 67 rushing yards on 20 carries after a season where he rushed for 143.6 yards per game. The Vulcans also forced four Vikings turnovers on their way to their first shutout of the season.
The Vikings (8-4) had an excellent season despite losing to Winston Salem State twice and Delta State before the Cal game. The Vulcans (10-2) advance to play Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion WSS (11-0) next Saturday.
SWAC: One division winner is in, one more to be determined.
Alabama A&M, (8-3, 7-2) won a nail-biter against Prairie View (5-6, 5-4), 17-15, and claimed the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Eastern Division title. It won the division despite ending with an identical conference record with idle Alabama State (7-3, 7-2), because the Bulldogs beat the Hornets, 20-19, in the Magic City Classic.
Jackson State (9-2, 7-2) crushed rival Alcorn, 51-7, in the Capital City Classic, but NCAA Academic Progress Rate sanctions preclude it from postseason play. Still, knowing they had little to play for, the Tigers were outstanding this season – especially quarterback Casey Therriault. Therriault, who threw for 539 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Braves, ends his JSU career with single season records most passes completed (372), passing yards (3,808) and total offense (3,911).
The Western Division will be decided in New Orleans this coming weekend at the Bayou Classic. Currently, Grambling (6-4, 5-3) leads Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-5, 5-4) and PV (5-6, 5-4). A GSU win and it advances to the SWAC title game. If it loses, and since it lost to PV in a head-to-head matchup this season, the Panthers will earn the championship game berth.
MEAC: Bethune Cookman finished its regular season with a most satisfying 26-16 victory against instate rival Florida A&M in the Florida Classic played in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.
The Wildcats (8-3, 6-2), who won their sixth game in a row, held out hope that its record would good enough to earn the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference a second participant in the playoffs with an at-large berth. It was not to be. Norfolk State (9-2), who secured the conference’s automatic berth with its first-ever regular season championship will be the lone MEAC representative and will play Old Dominion (9-2) at ODU’s Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
BCC’s Isidore Jackson, the Classics’s Most Valuable Player, rushed for 88 yards and Anthony Jordan added two touchdowns.