Morehouse Hopes to End Tuskegee Streak in Classic
Written by Roscoe Nance, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com Friday, 07 October 2011 04:18
There’s an old cowboy saying that “there ain’t a horse that can’t be rode, there ain’t a cowboy that can’t be throwed.’’
Morehouse coach Rich Freeman would like to think that applies to his team Saturday when the Maroon Tigers face Tuskegee in the 76th Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Tuskegee has won 19 of the last 25 Classic matchups, including the last seven in row. On top of that, Freeman is 0-10 against Tuskegee. That mark includes four consecutive defeats as coach of the Maroon Tigers and six losses while he was an assistant at Miles, Alabama State and Lane.
“It’s a personal hurdle with several different schools,’’ Freeman says, noting that his goal when he came to Morehouse was to defeat Albany State, Fort Valley State and Tuskegee – the Big Three in the SIAC.
The Maroon Tigers have knocked off Albany State and Fort Valley State with Freeman at the helm, but they have yet to come close against the Golden Tigers.
They came into last year’s Classic sporting a 5-0 record and were nationally ranked in NCAA Division II. The Golden Tigers came away with a 31-15 victory.
This time around, Morehouse comes in with one of the top offensive units in Division II. The Maroon Tigers are No. 24 in scoring, averaging 35.6 points a game, and No. 15 in rushing with 230.8 yards a game. Junior running back David Carter is No. 7 in rushing in Division II with 688 yards and 137.6 yards a game.
On the other hand, Tuskegee is off to its worst start since 1995 with a 1-3 record and has yet to score more than 19 points in a game.
That’s of little solace to Freeman.
“They’re still Tuskegee,’’ he says, “and in their eyes we’re still Morehouse, a team they’ve dominated. They’re a school that heavily funds athletics and it shows. They have rich history and tradition in football.’’
Tuskegee has a 66-27-7 edge in the overall series with Morehouse that began in 1902. The Golden Tigers have won more games than any other HBCU with 631 victories. They have captured 28 SIAC championships, including four of the last five, to go with eight Black College National titles with the last coming in 2007.
Still Freeman finds his team’s inability to beat the Golden Tigers baffling.
“Personally I feel we had more talent and better talent the last three years, but we still lost,’’ he says. “We were 5-0 last year and we lost to them. They lost by a three touchdowns to a team (Fort Valley) that we beat. We have a tremendous mental challenge. It has nothing to do with physicality.’’
Tuskegee coach Willie Slater, who is 52-10 in six seasons with the Golden Tigers doesn’t have an explanation for his team’s success against Morehouse.
“I don’t know what it is,’’ he says. “The kids play hard and will keep playing hard. I hope it’s good to win.’’
This is clearly a down year for Tuskegee, which has already lost more games this season than it did in any season since 2003 when the Golden Tigers finished 5-6.
Offense has been Tuskegee’s failing, particularly its quarterback play. Coach Willie Slater has started three different signal callers but appears to have settled on freshman Justin Nared. However, Slater says defense will be the key to the Golden Tigers’ success.
“They’re a good team,’’ he says. “They’re big, fast and strong. What we need to do is pretty obvious. We need to stop the run and control the ball.’’
Freeman isn’t buying into the notion that Tuskegee is down, no matter what the Golden Tigers’ record says.
“One thing that I’ve noticed is they’re still very stingy on defense and they control the ball on offense,’’ he says. “They are very scary. I’m a Tuskegee fan. They won’t throw towel in. They’ve been in every game. A couple of mistakes here and there kept them from winning a couple of games. They’re a different team when we play them. The last three years you look at the tape and say we should do pretty good against them and we lose by 14.’’
Prairie View A&M (3-2, 3-1 SWAC) at Southern (2-3, 2-1 SWAC): First place in the SWAC West is on the line in this one. Prairie View, the 2009 SWAC champion, has a half-game lead over the Jaguars. Prairie View has won four of the last five games in the series. Prairie View coach Heishma Northern is a native of Baton Rouge, La., home of the Jaguars, and a Southern alumnus, and he was a candidate for the Jaguars’ job before Southern hired Stump Mitchell.
Both teams are coming off close wins in which their backup quarterbacks rallied them to victory. Jonathan Troast came off the bench in the second half in relief of injured starter Jerry Lovelocke and threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns in the Panthers’ 31-23 victory against Grambling State. Freshman J.P. Douglas threw for 223 yards and touchdown after replacing Dray Joseph in the second half of Southern’s 28-21 win against Mississippi Valley State.
Ala. State (4-1, 4-0 SWAC) at Texas Southern (2-2, 1-2 SWAC): Alabama State takes a seven-game regular season conference winning streak into this rematch of the 2010 SWAC Championship Game. Texas Southern defeated the Hornets 11-6 in the title game. Alabama State is 4-0 in the conference for the first time since 2005 and is in first place in the SWAC East. Texas Southern is in a must-win situation in the West Division for the remainder of the season with its two conference losses.
Miss. Valley State (0-5, 0-4 SWAC) at Alabama A&M (3-2, 2-1 SWAC)
Norfolk State (4-1, 2-0 MEAC) at Delaware State (2-3, 0-2 MEAC)
Virginia State (3-2, 2-1 CIAA) Fayetteville State (1-4, 1-1 CIAA)
Princeton (1-2) at Hampton (2-2)
Chowan (1-4, 0-3 CIAA) at Lincoln (Pa.) (1-4, 1-2 CIAA)
Savannah State (1-4, 1-1 MEAC) at Morgan State (2-3, 1-1 MEAC)
Johnson C. Smith (2-3, 1-1 CIA) at Shaw (1-4, 1-1 CIAA)
Elizabeth City State (3-2, 1-1 CIAA) at Virginia Union (4-2, 2-1 CIAA)
West Virginia Tech (1-4) at Virginia Univ. of Lynchburg (1-4)
West Virginia State (1-3) at West Liberty (0-5)
North Greenville (3-2) at Central State (0-5)
Fort Valley State (1-4, 1-2 SIAC) at Kentucky State (3-2, 0-2 SIAC)
Bethune-Cookman (2-2, 2-1 MEAC) at N.C. A&T (2-2, 1-0 MEAC)
Winston-Salem State (5-0, 4-0, CIAA) at Saint Augustine’s (2-3, 1-2 CIAA)
N.C. Central (1-3, 0-1 MEAC) at S.C. State (2-3, 2-1 MEAC)
Albany State (4-1, 2-0 SIAC) at Lane (2-3, 0-2 SIAC)
Panhandle State (0-4) at Langston (3-2)
Livingstone (1-4) at Edward Waters (1-3)
Howard (2-3, 1-2) Florida A&M (3-2, 1-1)
Cheyney (1-4) at Bloomsburg (4-0)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (3-2, 2-1 SWAC) at Jackson State (4-1, 2-1 SWAC)
Texas College (0-5) at Concordia-Selma (3-2)
Benedict (1-4, 0-2 SIAC) at Stillman (4-1, 3-0 SIAC)
Lincoln (Mo.) (1-4) Missouri Western (3-2)
SE Missouri State (1-1, 1-1 OVC) at Tenn. State (1-4, 0-2 OVC)
Miles (2-3, 1-1 SIAC) at Clark Atlanta (2-3, 1-1 SIAC)
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