Saturday, November 16, 2013

Miles and Albany State to Decide SIAC Title; Big MEAC Game for Hampton, Bethune-Cookman; Rest of Today's HBCU Football Action

From The Albany Hearld

Championship football Saturday in the HBCU ranks has hit a big bump in the road with the cancellation of today's Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship game between 10-0 Winston-Salem State and 9-1 Virginia State after VSU players jumped on Winston-Salem State's quarterback in a pre-championship luncheon Friday.

But there is big HBCU football today.

In the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, surprising Miles College, which knocked off the nation's second-ranked Division II HBCU football team, Tuskegee, last week, faces surging Albany State in the SIAC Championship Game in Atlanta.

Albany State's road to the title game seemed like a dead end during October.  The Golden Rams lost four of their first five games, one of them to Miles.  But they finished the season with four straight wins, including last week's victory over Fort Valley State to put them in the title game.

Miles started out the season with losses West Georgia and one of the top teams in Division II, West Alabama.  But besides a surprising hiccup to Central State, the Golden Bears haven't lost since September.  And they upset Tuskegee last week.

Both teams derailed a possible rematch from last year's Tuskegee romp over Fort Valley State.  Now they will have a rematch from the 2011 championship game. 

"It's been Albany State and it's been Miles College two out of the three years," said Miles head coach Reginald Ruffin to "So, that says a lot about both programs. You guys can expect an exciting game. You won't be disappointed in either team. I can promise you that."

For the final couple of weeks of the regular season, every game is a big game for South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State and Hampton in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. With Bethune-Cookman losing last week and South Carolina State winning Thursday, the Bulldogs top the MEAC this week.  But Hampton, a game behind both teams, could make a mess of things with a win over Bethune-Cookman today while Delaware State hopes for a little help as they are also a game behind. 

"I don't have to remind the guys what's at stake," Hampton head coach Donovan Rose told The Daily Press. "They're 5-1 and we're 4-2, so we get an opportunity to tie them in the conference. There's some other things going on with other schools, but what a great situation to come back and play the defending champions and to be in a situation where you put yourself in the equation."

In the SWAC, the title game is still three weeks away but the match-up is already set. Jackson State, undefeated in the conference at 8-0 and 7-2 overall (forfeit from Grambling doesn't count in overall win total), will take on Southern (6-2, 6-4 overall).  

Jackson State will have a tough game on their hands this week as they take on the team trailing them in the Eastern Division, a very good Alcorn State team.  Southern will host Division II Clark Atlanta in a much easier contest.

Here is the complete schedule of HBCU football action today:

- Alabama State is at Mississippi Valley State
- Prairie View hosts Abilene Christian
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff visits Alabama A&M
- Howard is at Texas Southern

- Savannah State visits North Carolina A&T
- North Carolina Central hosts Norfolk State
- Delaware State is at Florida A&M

- Tennessee State hosts Murray State
- Langston hosts Wayland Baptist
- Glenville is at West Virginia State
- Lincoln (Mo.) hosts Southwest Baptist
- Central State is at West Alabama

Luncheon Altercation Leaves Winston-Salem State QB Injured and WSSU-Virginia State CIAA Championship Football Game Canceled


Photos by The Winston-Salem Journal
The images from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship game this today weren't supposed to be these.  A bloody Winston-Salem State starting quarterback Rudy Johnson being led away with an ice pack over his eye.  And five Virginia State players accused of beating him up.  A day before the game.

But that's exactly what happened.  And it has resulted in the unprecedented cancellation of an entire championship game weekend.

Johnson was beaten up in the bathroom during a pre-championship game awards luncheon by a group of Virginia State players.  One player, VSU running back Lamont Britt, has been arrested and faces charges of misdemeanor assault and inflicting serious injury. He was being held in jail with a bond set at $7,500.  His court date is Dec. 9.

A swollen and bloody Johnson was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

“Rudy’s fine, and he’s keeping ice on it, so the swelling will go down,” WSSU head coach Connell Maynor told the Winston-Salem Journal. “The team is upset, and they are in shock, and they wanted to play the game. I couldn’t guarantee that I could keep all 55 of my guys in check for the game, and all it would take would be one comment or something like that. So no coach could guarantee that.”

That's why CIAA officials cancelled today's huge football conference championship game between Virginia State and host Winston-Salem State and the CIAA volleyball championships, also to be held at WSSU this weekend, after the Friday altercation.

"On the eve of such an important weekend for dozens of our student-athletes, many of whom have waited a lifetime for such a moment, we are left to focus instead on what might have been," said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter.

"Our singular focus is on the safety and security of the CIAA's student-athletes and those who follow them," she said. "It is important that everyone involved in the CIAA embody our mission every day by acting as upstanding individuals on and off the field. We must work together to hold each other to higher standards of responsible judgment and conduct because we must demand that if we are to succeed.

"We did not make this decision lightly, as its impact is far and wide - affecting our student-athletes, alumni, fans, sponsors and more. But the CIAA has long had policies to encourage responsible behavior, and must consider what is necessary to assure days like today are not repeated, ever."

Virginia State officials, who still had ticket information for the game up on their website Saturday morning, have been tight-lipped about the situation.

"Virginia State University is aware of an incident involving student-athletes from Winston Salem State and Virginia  State Universities," the school said in a statment on their athletic department website. "VSU officials are fully cooperating with the CIAA in their investigation, and as a result, will not be able to comment any further.

"In light of the incident, the CIAA has cancelled the Championship Football game. We ask that any inquiries regarding the game should be directed to the CIAA."

But there is no question about what happened in the mind of WSSU Chancellor Donald Reaves

"I am saddened to report that at [Friday's] CIAA pre-championship game luncheon held at the Anderson Center of the WSSU campus that our starting quarterback, Rudy Johnson, was viciously beaten by one or more members of the Virginia State football team," Reaves said in a statement.

"There is no excuse for the behavior of the Virginia State players," he said. "One suspect has admitted to his role in the attack and has been arrest on criminal assault charges. The University Police Department is attempting to identify the other VSU players who were involved. Today's event was supposed to be a celebration for both teams and for all the players who were being recognized for an outstanding season. The actions from the Virginia State players certainly changed the outcome for everyone."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

ECSU's Rosetta Becerra Leads All-CIAA Volleyball Honors

ECSU's Rosetta Becerra
Elizabeth City State's Rosetta Becerra, who led the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in kills per set and was the CIAA's second-best in kills overall, has been named the conference Volleyball Player of the Year.

Becerra, a junior sports medicine major, led the Vikings in points and digs and ranked in the CIAA's top ten in kills per set, kills, digs per set, digs and was 11th in hitting percentage.

She leads the All-CIAA Volleyball team, which had three Winston-Salem State players on the first team squad (Katelin Wensley, Olivia Owens and Kayla Brass) and another, Avoni Seymour, on the 2nd team.

Virginia State freshman Diamond Simpson was named Rookie of the Year while her coach, Ivana Rich, was named Coach of the Year.

The full All-SIAC squads are listed here

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bethune-Cookman and Tuskegee Both Upset on Saturday; Recap of All HBCU Football Action From Saturday


A wild HBCU football day saw the nation's top Division I-FCS HBCU football team lose and the second-ranked Division II HBCU team go down.

First, Norfolk State ran out to a 20-point lead and withstood a late Bethune-Cookman rally to defeat the Wildcats 27-24 in a huge national and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference upset Saturday.

Norfolk State, which had only won two games all season, the last in early October, jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead before Isadore Jackson's 35-yard touchdown run pulled the Wildcats to a 10-7 deficit that made the home crowd breathe a little easier.

But the Spartans ran off 17 straight points on 2-yard Tyler Clark touchdown pass Natturner Harris 31-yard fumble return for touchdown (which put Spartans up 24-7 at halftime) and a third-quarter Cameron Marouf field goal.

Bethune-Cookman fought back in the fourth quarter with Nick Addison returning a fumble 14 yards for a touchdown, Jonathan Cagle's field goal and Jackson's second touchdown run, an 11-yarder, followed by a successful two-point conversion, to pull within a field goal.

But the Wildcats rally fell short.

Clark finished with 151 yards passing and a touchdown while Rolandan Finch had 110 yards rushing and a TD.  The Norfolk State defense held the conference's top offense to 272 yards total offense on the day, forcing a fumble and three intereceptions.

The loss, Bethune-Cookman's first Division I-FCS loss this season, gives South Carolina State a share of the MEAC lead with Bethune-Cookman.

Bethune-Cookman (8-2, 5-1 in the MEAC) hosts Hampton next week while Norfolk State is at North Carolina Central.

Miles Jumps On Tuskegee Early to Claim SIAC West Division Title

Miles College led by as many as 27 points early and held on to upset the nation's second-ranked HBCU football team, Tuskegee, 41-36 to win the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference West Division and go on to the SIAC Championship Game.

David Thomas had four first half touchdown passes and one rushing TD to lead the Golden Bears to a 34-7 lead in the second quarter.  The Golden Tigers countered with three Micha Thornton touchdown runs to cut the lead to seven points heading into the fourth quarter.

Thomas threw another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.  Thomas finished with 312 yards and five touchdowns passing along with 104 yards rushing and another touchdown to lead the Golden Bears.  Linebacker Julanta English had eight tackles and forced a fumble for the Miles defense.

Thornton had three touchdowns while Hoderick Lowe rushed for 107 yards for Tuskegee.  Rasha Burkette added 322 yards and a touchdown passes for the Golden Tigers.

The loss leaves 8-2 Tuskegee, the defending SIAC champs, waiting to see if they will be extended a bid to the Division II playoffs.  Their only other loss was to the nation's top Division II HBCU team, Winston-Salem State.

Miles, 6-4 on the season, counts a victory over Albany State (a 19-10 winner over Fort Valley State to claim the Eastern Division title), their opponent in the SIAC Championship game next week at Atlanta's Lakewood Stadium. 

- Johnson C. Smith 26, Central State 24
- Virginia State 46, Virginia Union 3
- Winston-Salem State 28, Fayetteville State 14
- Shaw 32, St. Augustine's 14
- Livingstone 36, Virginia-Lynchburg 13
- Chowan 77, Lincoln (Pa) 14
- Bowie State 30, Elizabeth City State 21 

- Mississippi Valley State 20, Texas Southern 17
- Alcorn State 50, Prairie View 35 -- Alcorn State scored 33 unanswered points to down Prairie View 50-35 and deny the Panthers an opportunity to play in the SWAC Championship Game.   The West Division title goes to Southern.
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff 45, Grambling 42
- Jackson State 26, Alabama A&M 20
- Southern 31, Alabama State 28

- Stillman 42, College of Faith 0
- Clark Atlanta 35, Edward Waters 28
- Albany State 19, Fort Valley State 10 -- In a battle for the SIAC East Division crown and a place in the SIAC Championship game, Albany State defeated Fort Valley State 19-10.  The win is Albany State's fourth straight.
- Lane 48, Benedict 7
- Kentucky State 44, Morehouse 0

- Morgan State 24, North Carolina A&T 23
- Hampton 29, North Carolina Central 21
- South Carolina State 25, Florida A&M 21
- Howard 42, Savannah State 14

- Lincoln (Mo) 42, Northeastern State 33
- Shippensburg 42, Cheney 0
- Tennessee State 31, Austin Peay 6 -- Ronald Butler threw for two touchdowns while the Tennessee State defense held Austin Peay to 92 yards total offense as the Tigers broke a two-game losing skid to defeat the Governors 31-6.  The Tigers, now 8-3, host Murray State as the Tigers hold onto hopes for a NCAA Division I-FCS playoff bid.