Fort Valley State completed an improbable turnaround Saturday with a 33-30 double overtime victory against Kentucky State in the SIAC Championship Game at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.
The Wildcats (5-6) began the season 1-6 under first-year coach Kevin Porter and going nowhere fast a month ago before reeling off four consecutive wins. Their culmination victory avenged a 26-10 loss to Kentucky State (4-7) and gave them their first SIAC championship since 1999.
Fort Valley came into the championship game riding a wave of momentum. The Wildcats won the East Division title by rallying from a 17-point halftime deficit against archrival Albany State in the Fountain City Classic for a 20-17 win a week ago. However, that momentum disappeared against Kentucky State, which has not win the championship since entering the conference in 1997. The Wildcats trailed by 14 points twice in the first half, and they were down by seven points going into the third quarter.
Kentucky State led 14-0 midway through the first quarter after Jules St. Ge connected with Reginal Harris on a 40-yard touchdown pass and Lavelle Cloyd’s 58-yard scoring run.
Chauncey Jackson breathed life into Fort Valley with a two-yard touchdown run with 3:17 left in the first period. But Kentucky State stretched its lead back to 14 points on Darmontre Warr’s five-yard scoring run.
The score was tied three times in the second half and overtime. Juan Serna’s 37-yard field goal for Fort Valley midway through the fourth quarter tied the score at 24-all, and the teams remained deadlocked through the end of regulation time. Fort Valley went on offense first in the first overtime period, and Serna booted a 43-yard field goal to put the Wildcats on top 27-24. Bill Rose sent the game into a second overtime period with a 34-yard field goal for Kentucky State that knotted the score at 27-all. Rose put the Thorobreds on top 30-27 with a 32-yard field goal. Jackson ended the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Otis Brown.
Winston-Salem State 43, Bowie State 33 – Running back Kerrion Moore led an overpowering rushing attack as the Rams captured the CIAA championship. The Rams piled up 272 yards on the ground with Moore gaining 177 on 22 carries. Moore scored on a 68-yard touchdown run at 8:19 of the fourth quarter with Winston-Salem leading 37-27 helped keep Bowie State at bay. Justus Pickett and Joe Wright ran for 54 and 50 yards, respectively, for Winston-Salem.
Quarterback Rod Tinsley passed for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Amir Hall had a big game for Bowie State in a losing effort. Hall completed 27 of 46 attempts for 348 yards and three touchdowns. However, he threw four interceptions. Robert Chesson gained 107 yards on the ground for Bowie State as the Bulldogs gained 610 total yards while running 98 plays. Nyme Manns had 10 receptions for 176 yards and Jordan Garrison had six for 111 yards.
Virginia State 45, Tuskegee 35 — The Trojans coupled a strong running game with breakdowns in the Golden Tigers’ special teams play for a victory in an inter-conference matchup that was added to the schedule at the 13th hour. Virginia State (9-2), the runner-up in the CIAA North Division championship race, gained 229 yards on the ground while averaging 5.9 yards per rush. Trenton Cannon led the Trojans with 99 yards on the ground. He averaged 7.6 yards a carry and scored two rushing touchdowns. Kavon Bellamy chipped in with 82 yards, and quarterback Tarian Ayres added 50, including a 17-yard touchdown run. The Golden Tigers (8-2) were selected for the playoffs despite the loss. They will play at Newberry College. The Wolves are champions of the South Atlantic Conference and the No. 2 seeds in Super Region 2.
They have won 10 straight games since losing their season opener to Florida Tech. Special teams breakdowns contributed heavily to Tuskegee’s undoing. Marcus Van Hook returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown with 1:21 left in the first half to give Virginia State a 17-7 lead. Cannon returned the second half 75 yards for touchdown to increase the Trojans’ lead to 24-7. Midway through the quarter, Tuskegee, trailing 24-14, recovered a blocked punt at Virginia State’s 33. The Golden Tigers ended up attempting a 50-yard field goal that was blocked and returned to the Tuskegee 25. Cannon scored his third touchdown of the game on first down for a 31-14 lead. Tuskegee’s defense was never able to stop Virginia State on critical downs, and the teams matched touchdowns.
The contest was added to the schedule on Monday so that Tuskegee could meet the NCAA’s postseason eligibility requirement of a 10-game regular season schedule. Tuskegee was left a game shy of the required number after Stillman announced it was discontinuing football following the 2015 season and the Golden Tigers were unable to fill the opening on their schedule. Tuskegee sought a waiver from the NCAA but it was denied. Albany State had verbally agreed to play the Golden Tigers but backed out after losing to Fort Valley State last week in a showdown for the SIAC East Division championship.
Southern 44, Prairie View A&M 34 – SWAC career rushing leader Lenard Tillery ran for a career-high 245 yards as the Jaguars eliminated the Panthers from West Division race with a road victory. Tillery was the workhorse for Southern (7-2, 7-0 SWAC), carrying the ball 29 times to lead the Jaguars to their seventh straight win and keep them tied with Grambling atop the West standings. Tillery had runs of 52 and 54 yards to set up scores for Southern. Quarterback Austin Howard riddled Prairie View’s defense for touchdown passes while completing 15 of 28 attempts for 295 yards. Wide receiver Willie Quinn was Howard’s No. 1 target. Quinn hauled in five catches for 114 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown reception. Prairie View (6-4, 6-2 SWAC) had a productive offensive game, generating 491 total yards. However, the Panthers hurt themselves with four turnovers. They threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles.
Hampton 28, Savannah State 24
Florida A&M 22, Morgan State 21
Norfolk State 13, South Carolina State 10
North Carolina A&T 45, Delaware State 14
North Carolina Central 30, Howard 21
Alabama A&M 27, Jackson State 20
Alcorn State 61, Mississippi Valley State 7
Texas Southern 27, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 10
Edinboro 66, Cheyney 8
Edward Waters 42, Virginia-Lynchburg 6
Langston 54, Wayland Baptist 10
Point University 22, Benedict 7
Southwest Baptist 50, Lincoln (Mo.) 12
Tennessee Tech 44, Tennessee State 16
West Virginia State 37, West Liberty 30