By ADD SEYMOUR JR
Two big CIAA games last weekend have led to a rematch - a rematch that will actually be played this year -- in the conference championship game this Saturday.
Virginia State went down 6-0 to Virginia Union in the first quarter but ran off 26 unanswered points and went on to win 33-12 to claim the CIAA Northern Division title for the second consecutive season.
Tarian Ayers threw three short touchdown passes - he only had 42 yards passing the entire game - and rushed for 61 yards to lead VSU. Andrew Faison Jr. had eight tackles, two tackles for losses, forced one fumble and recovered two others to lead the Trojans defense.
The 8-2 Trojans - undefeated in CIAA play wiht a 5-0 record - will take on reigning champion Winston-Salem State in the title game. The Rams (9-1, 5-0 CIAA) defeated Fayetteville State 17-7, but had a tougher time as the Broncos looked to make their own appearance in the championship game.
The Broncos (5-5, 4-1 CIAA) jumped out to first half 7-0 lead on a first quarter 87-yard punt return for a touchdown by Michael Johnson. But Winston-Salem State's defense was up to the challenge, only allowing the Broncos 162 yards of total offense on the day, including just 58 yards passing.
Phil Sims, who only threw for 141 yards all day, threw his only TD pass, a 12-yarder to Eric Williams, to tie the game in the third quarter. Tyree Massey added a 15-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter as the Rams defense continued to shut down the Fayetteville State offense.
Now Virginia State and Winston-Salem State can erase the memory of last year's ugly championship game weekend in which the game was called off after a pre-championship game luncheon fight led to an injured Rams quarterback in Rudy Johnson after five Trojans players beat him up in a bathroom. One player, Lamont Britt, was charged with misdemeanor assault and ended up being pleading guilty to simple assault and apologizing in court to Johnson.
But now all are focused on part two of this rivalry.
“The past is the past,” Johnson told the Winston Salem Journal said about last year. "But I’m definitely
going to come out with a lot of passion and fire, and they will see me
on the field.”
Tuskegee Avenges Last Season's Loss to Miles to Make SIAC Title Game With Albany State
Tuskegee took care of one goal last weekend -- they defeated Miles 48-33, avenging last year's loss that knocked them out of the SIAC Championship game.
Now they will get to try to knock out their next challenge -- battling for the conference championship on Saturday, against defending champion Albany State.
It took some work.
Miles led Tuskegee 27-13 midway through the third quarter, looking primed for another upset. But Tuskegee's Michael Thornton had three touchdown runs after that while the Golden Tigers' Hoderick Lowe added a 92-yard kickoff return and a 48-yard touchdown run of his own to lead a quarter and a half 35-6 run to get the title.
"Last year we got upset at our house, and this year we had the
opportunity to come back and do the same thing to them at their home," Thornton told the Montgomery Advertiser. "We got down at the
beginning of the game, but we have a team full of veterans and just kept
our composure, and kept playing Tuskegee football."
Now the clash of the SIAC's titans can take place.
The championship game features the SIAC's top offense in Tuskegee against the conference's top defense in Albany State. ASU's Tavarius Washington leads the defense with 79 tackles and five sacks while Tuskegee's offense is paced by Lowe and Thornton in the backfield and Kevin Lacey at quarterback. Albany State's Jarvis Small led the SIAC in rushing this season with 1129 yards and 12 touchdowns.