Tuskegee has had some improbable wins among its 673 all-time victories, but it hard to imagine any being more improbable than the Golden Tigers’ 21-16 home triumph over UNC-Pembroke Saturday at Abbott Stadium.
Trailing 16-0 with a little more than nine minutes remaining in the contest, the Golden Tigers (5-0), ranked No. 11 in NCAA Division II, scored 21 unanswered points in a span of 4 minutes, 23 seconds to knock the unbeaten and 21st-ranked Braves (4-1) from the unbeaten ranks. Tuskegee scored 14 points in a span of 19 seconds in the comeback. The winning score came on a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Lacey to Desmond Reece with 3:55 left in the game.
“We knew we could do it,’’ said Golden Tigers senior linebacker Osband Thompson. “We didn’t get down on ourselves, and we knew the offense would find a spark. Sure it was 16 zip. So what?’’
The Golden Tigers gained 186 yards in the fourth quarter after only generating 164 in the first three periods. Tuskegee’s comeback began with a 12-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that ended on Jayjerien Craig scoring on an eight-yard. Craig added a two-point conversion with a sweep around left end that made it a one-possession difference at 16-8.
Tuskegee’s defense got in on the act when UNC Pembroke got the ball back. Kali Gray and Thompson sacked quarterback Patrick O’Brien and stripped him of the ball in the process. Thompson came away with the ball at the Braves’ 18 yard line. Quarterback Lacey connected with Reece for a touchdown on the Golden Tigers’ first play following the turnover. However, Tuskegee was still on the short end of the score, 16-14 with 8:13 remaining when the two-point conversion failed.
The teams traded possessions with Tuskegee getting the ball at its 24-yard line, setting the stage for Lacey and Reece to team up for the winning play.
UNC Pembroke had one last shot at pulling the game out when it got the ball with just under a minute remaining. However, Eugene Leach killed the Braves’ hope for a miraculous finish with an interception.
N.C. Central 31, Bethune-Cookman 14 – The Eagles came up with a dominating second-half performance en route to an MEAC road victory. North Carolina Central (3-2, 2-0 MEAC) ended a six-game losing streak to Bethune-Cookman (0-4, 0-2) with the victory and dealt the winless Wildcats’ championship hopes a serious blow. The Eagles found themselves in a 7-7 tie at the half after only mustering 154 total yards in the first two periods. They exploded for 335 yards in the second half and the game became a rout. North Carolina Central held the Wildcats to 121 total yards in the second half, with only 13 coming on the ground. North Carolina Central quarterback Malcolm Bell passed for 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns while accounting for 325 yards. Sophomore running back Ramone Simpson rushed for a career high 116 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run for the Eagles’ final points with 1:59 left in the game. The game was delayed for 2 hours, 46 minutes because of lightning with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter and North Carolina Central leading 17-7.
Grambling State 36, Prairie View A&M 16 – The Tigers road an unrelenting running game to victory in a SWAC West Division showdown in the State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The G-Men (3-1, 3-0 SWAC) ran for 296 yards while recording their third straight victory while handing Prairie View (3-2, 3-1 SWAC) its first conference loss. Jestin Kelly led Grambling’s ground game with 117 yards on 20 carries, and he scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Devante Kincade added 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns, running back Martez Carter chipped in with 69 yards.
The G-Men averaged 6.2 yards a carry. Prairie View led 16-0 in the first quarter thanks to a safety, a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trey Green to Demarquo Lastro and Dawanyo Tucker’s 33-yard touchdown run. The score was tied 16-all at the half. Kincade tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chad Williams for the Tigers’ first score. Kincade came back with an 11-yard touchdown run, and Grambling pulled even when the center snap sailed over punter Owen Hoolihan’s head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Tennessee State 34, Tennessee Martin 30 – Senior quarterback Ronald Butler threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Smith with 18 seconds remaining to lift the unbeaten Tigers to a home OVC victory. Butler, starting for the first time this season, was 4-for-4 on the drive. He finished the game with 223 yards and three touchdowns. Lane Clark kicked the two longest field goals in school history for Tennessee State (4-0, 1-0 OVC), making good on boots of 57 and 54 yards. His 57-yarder is the longest in Division I this season.
North Carolina A&T 31, Hampton 9 – Senior running back Tarik Cohen exploded in the second half Thursday night as the Aggies won their MEAC opener at home. Cohen, the 2016 Black College Offensive Player of the Year, rambled for 204 yards in the second half en route to a 256-yard effort and set a pair of school records in the process. He scored on a 94-yard run with 2:35 remaining in the game for the longest play from scrimmage in school history.
Cohen also scored on runs of 15 and 30 yards. His three touchdowns for the night give him the school career record with 44. The Aggies (3-1, 1-0 MEAC) weren’t sharp for large chunks of the game despite Cohen’s scintillating performance. They were penalized 10 times for 82 yards and gave up 388 passing yards to Hampton quarterback Jaylian Williamson. The Pirates (1-2, 1-1 MEAC) weren’t able to capitalize on their ability to move the ball through the air as they were 1-for-5 in red zone scoring opportunities. They also committed four turnovers and were penalized 10 times for 88 yards.
Florida A&M 19, Savannah State 14
Howard 33, Norfolk State 28
Morgan State 20, Delaware State 17
Alabama State 41, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 21
Arkansas 52, Alcorn State 10
Jackson State 16, Mississippi Valley State 14
Texas Southern 34, Alabama A&M 31
Bowie State 37, Fayetteville State 3
Chowan 47, Johnson C. Smith 14
Elizabeth City State 28, Shaw 21
Virginia State 47, Livingstone 0
Virginia Union 50, Saint Augustine’s 21
Winston-Salem 51, Lincoln (Pa.) 0
Albany State 35, Miles 33
Alderson Broaddus 33, Fort Valley State 9
Clark Atlanta 37, Morehouse 36
Gardner-Webb 45, Benedict 0
Arizona Christian 34, Langston 10
Bacone College 35, Texas College 26
Lincoln (Mo.) 12, Lane 9
Stroudsburg 54, Cheyney 12
Valdosta State 48, Kentucky State 10
Virginia-Wise 39, West Virginia State 37