HBCU Football Wrap

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    The rematch between Tuskegee and Fort Valley State in Atlanta Saturday night was no match when the teams met in the SIAC Championship Game at Lakewood Stadium.

    The rematch between Tuskegee and Fort Valley State in Atlanta Saturday night was no match when the teams met in the SIAC Championship Game at Lakewood Stadium.

    Tuskegee, playing at home, routed the Wildcats 49-18 in a regular season contest, and the Golden Tigers did it to them again – this time 55-24 – for their 26th conference title. It is their eighth championship since 2000 – the first since 2009 – and comes after they were 4-6 a year ago.

    “It’s great to win it,’’ Tuskegee Coach Willie Slater said. “When I reflect on last year, all those games we lost, we had a chance to win. We just couldn’t finish. We went into the winter program on that. They got better.’’

    Despite the loss Fort Valley (8-3) earned a berth in the Division II playoffs as the No.6 seed in Super Region 2. The Wildcats will play Lenoir Rhyne, the No. 3 seed, Saturday.

    Tuskegee (9-1), No. 16, is not eligible for the playoffs because of plays Alabama State in the Turkey Day Classic on Thanksgiving in the Golden Tigers’ regular season finale. The Golden Tigers will end their season with an appearance in the Pioneer Bowl December 1 against a representative of the CIAA.

    The conference championship is the fifth in seven seasons at Tuskegee for Slater.

    “This is the first one that we had to play for,’’ he said, pointing out that this is only the second year that the SIAC has played a championship game. “We won the others because we had a better record. Even though we had a better record (7-0 in the SIAC), we still had to play for it. I think it is more special (than the other championships).’’

    The Golden Tigers, who have a nine-game winning streak since losing to Alabama A&M 7-6, used the same formula – turnovers and big plays – in their second victory they employed the first time around.

    They scored touchdowns on a 75-yard run and a 74-yard pass in the championship game and had interception returns of 78 and 50 yards for scores among the four turnovers that they forced.

    The Golden Tigers came up with five turnovers and produced five plays that cover 40 yards or more in their regular season win against Fort Valley.

    “They did a study on it,’’ Slater said. “The team with the most big plays and the least turnovers wins 100 % of the time.’’

    Derrick Washington, the running back who transferred to Tuskegee from the University of Missouri, was the Golden Tigers’ big-play man. Washington rushed for 224 yards on 16 carries. He also caught two passes for 107 yards. His 75-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter that put Tuskegee ahead 34-15 ad broke the game open. He later scored on a 74-yard pass reception.

    “Derrick Washington is the best one I’ve ever coached,’’ Slater said. “He kind blew it open for us.’’

    Cornerbacks Adam Lucas and William Buford returned interceptions 78 and 49, respectively, for touchdowns.

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