|UWG's Seth Hinsley runs through a Tuskegee tackle (photo by Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser)|
The Tuskegee Golden Tigers' second-ever NCAA Division II playoff appearance finished much like their first - a loss in a very close game.
In a tough, evenly matched football game, Tuskegee rallied late, but fell short as West Georgia defeated the Golden Tigers 20-17. West Georgia (10-2) goes on to play second-seeded Delta State next weekend.
Tuskegee was down 13-0 at halftime in an evenly matched game, but pulled to within six, on a third-quarter, 2-yard touchdown run by Michael Thornton. Trevor Wylie added an early fourth-quarter field goal to pull the Golden Tigers to within three, 13-10.
In a furious fourth quarter, West Georgia quarterback Dallas Dickey countered with a 27-yard touchdown toss to Shaq Hill with 9:20 left in the game, giving them a 20-10 lead.
Both defenses buckled down, but Tuskegee rallied again, with Thornton adding another touchdown with 2:37 left to again pull the Golden Tigers within three. But their onside kick was unsuccessful and West Georgia took the win.
"We made a lot of mistakes in the game," Tuskegee head coach Willie Slater told the Montgomery Advertiser. "I thought there were moments in the game that could have turned things around, but we didn't take advantage of them."
Tuskegee finishes the season 9-3. This was the Golden Tigers' second consecutive playoff appearance, which also have been their only two NCAA playoff games. Last season they lost another tight game, this one to 30-27 to North Alabama.
"We need to get past the first round," Slater told the Advertiser. "This program is good enough to do that. I've been on a lot of playoff teams, and I'm not used to losing this early. These kids fought very hard all season, and I'm very proud of our guys."