By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
If it gets a bit confusing when the game announcer mentions a play by Ivy, be sure to listen for the first name during the Mississippi Valley State - Jackson State game.
The quarterback for Mississippi Valley State is Patrick Ivy while the quarterback for Jackson State is his younger brother, LaMontiez Ivy.
But that isn't the only thing causing a buzz around this game.
Mississippi Valley State head coach Rich Comegy was the head coach at Jackson State before school officials fired him last December, even though he was 55-35 in eight seasons at J-State. A Jackson State spokesperson cited the need for a change in the direction of the program and a need to recruit local and to have players with discipline as part of their DNA.
But don't bring any of that up to Comegy now. He is just focused on getting a win.
"I would love to feel different about it and make it something that
seems to be very exciting but I'm worried about how our team performs,"
Comegy said Monday during the SWAC Coaches Teleconference. "......Maybe
later on the week, when we get going and really pushing toward the game,
that excitement will slowly come back because I want them to be
excited…..I don't want to take any of that from them……I'm sure that
piece will be there, that excitement about going back and playing but at
this moment there's more things on my mind about getting better as a
Mississippi Valley State is in need of a win. The Delta Devils are winless in conference play and 1-5 overall and have lost five straight games. They give up the most points per game in the SWAC and score the least of all conference teams.
There are bright spots. The Patrick Ivy-to-Julian Stafford connection has been a good one for MVSU, as Stafford leads the conference in receiving yards per game (94.3) and is fifth in receptions per game (4.5). And the defense is ranked fourth in total defense in the SWAC. They held high-powered Texas Southern last week to 20 points and 257 yards of offense in losing by only four points.
And Comegy said he see some chinks in the Jackson State armor.
"We can exploit some things that they do," he said. "I saw some film
(Monday) that we can exploit, and some ways we can get after them."
The MVSU defense is the second best against the pass, an area where Jackson State has excelled. LaMontiez Ivy is the SWAC's leading passer while tossing a conference-leading 11 touchdowns so far this season.
The J-State is ranked fourth in the SWAC, but they've given up at least 30 points in four of their six games.
"We're struggling right now. One of the guys we've been hoping to anchor
the defense, Coleman Johnson, he's been hurt (with a hand injury) all
year," defensive coordinator Derrick Burroughs told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper. (Ted Terrell) he's been hurt all year, hasn't been
able to play much."
SIAC's Two Top Teams, Tuskegee and Morehouse, Meet in the Nation's Oldest HBCU Classic
It's Morehouse, a team that's 4-1 with their only loss to FCS' Howard three weeks ago. The Maroon Tigers have been looking to regain the form that took them to the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2010. Injuries and other issues have plagued head coach Rich Freeman the past three seasons, particularly as they bottomed out in 2013 with a 2-8 record.
This season, they lead the SIAC in total offense, mainly on the strength of the conference's top passing game. But the triggerman, sophomore quarterback Monquavious Johnson, is out this week with an ankle injury, putting senior Jordan Tarver at the controls.
He'll have two solid receivers to throw to Lake McGuffie, who is second in the SIAC in receptions per game, and Devon Mann, a stalwart receiver who had 203 yards and three touchdowns against Central State last month.
Tuskegee is a tough defensive squad that is fourth in total defense in the SIAC, but tougher against the run. El'Malik Chunn is the SIAC's fourth leading tackler with 47 while Jewell Ratliff has picked off three balls this year, returning one for a touchdown.
On offense, Kevin Lacey and Justin Nared have shared the quarterback slot this season. It's a duo that works as they are third in passing in the SIAC, accounting for six touchdowns and over 1,000 yards passing this season.
The Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic kicks off at 5 p.m. CST and will broadcast live on the Aspire network.
Here is a look at the rest of today's HBCU football schedule
Stillman at Benedict (The SIAC's second leading passer, Cameron Stover, is looking at a matchup, on paper, that he may be favored in. Stillman has the second-worst pass defense in the SIAC. But then again, Stillman's Jovantae Thurmon could be saying the same as Benedict gives up 196 yards rushing per game)
Paine at Limestone College (
College of Faith at Clark Atlanta (College of Faith is probably just what Clark Atlanta needs right now. They are a team that is 0-5 and hasn't been close in their games this year. Clark Atlanta has lost their last three games, including a 27-7 defeat at the hands of Morehouse last week. Montavious Taylor leads a CAU rushing game that is the best in the SIAC. They'll need him. The Panthers are last in passing)
Kentucky State at Fort Valley State (Kentucky State needs a win These are two teams that mirror each other offensively and defensively, except in pass defense where Kentucky State suffers. It could be an opportunity for Fort Valley's offensive dynamo, quarterback Otis Brown, to shine)
Central State at Miles (
Lane at Albany State (
Delaware State at Norfolk State (
North Carolina Central at South Carolina State (
Howard at Bethune-Cookman (Howard has had a tough season so far, losing their last three games with their only win being over Division II Morehouse. But Greg McGhee continues to lead a potent offense that
Savannah State at Florida A&M (One thing is for sure in this game - at least one of these squads will be getting their first win of the season. Both teams are 0-5 and mirror each other in many ways. Both struggle to score and neither is great on defense, though the Rattlers are giving up 15 points a game less than Savannah State's league worst 47 points per game. Savannah State's Leon Prunty does lead a SSU pass offense ranked in the top half of the MEAC)
Fayetteville State at Shaw (
Lincoln (Pa) at Virginia Union (
St. Augustine's at Livingstone (
Winston-Salem State at Johnson C. Smith (
Elizabeth City State at Virginia State (
Bowie State at Chowan (
Southern at Alabama A&M (
Alabama State at Prairie View A&M (
Alcorn State at Grambling (