Saturday, November 15, 2014

Virginia State Tops Winston-Salem State to Win CIAA Football Championship


The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's two highest scoring offenses hit the field for Saturday's CIAA Championship football game. It didn't matter though as the game also featured the conference's stingiest defenses, who dominated a close game. 

Virginia State recovered two first-half Winston-Salem State fumbles for touchdowns and got their only offensive score late in the game to end the Rams' 31-game CIAA winning streak and win their 11th conference championship, 21-17.

Freshman Niko Johnson, subbing for suspended starting quarterback Tarian Ayers, got the Virginia State offense on the board for the only time in the game with 2:59 left on a 25-yard touchdown run that proved to be the game winner.

"When I saw the opening, it was like the Red Sea parted," Johnson said in the post-game press conference. "I was very nervous at the start of the game, because I had some big shoes to fill. But after the game started I got in the zone." 

The championship win was the first for the Trojans since 1996 when they won their second consecutive CIAA title. Virginia State (9-2, 8-0 CIAA), which has won 14 consecutive conference games, has won 11 CIAA football championships.

Winston-Salem State, which had been on top of most Division II HBCU football polls throughout the season, is now 9-2, 7-1 in the CIAA, and is wondering what the loss will mean to their NCAA Division II playoff fortunes. 

The CIAA's two best offenses where largely held down by the conference's top defenses as both were held way under their season averages in points and yardage. Both were held under 300 yards of offense.

Virginia State was playing without Ayers who was suspended by the school. Ayers was charged with DUI, underage possession of alcohol and speeding last Sunday.

It was two huge first half defensive plays that spurred Virginia State early.  Dontrell Jones recovered a fumble and ran it back 62 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Then in the second quarter, Elder Hudson recovered a Winston-Salem State fumble on the goal line to extend the Trojans lead to 14-0.

The Winston-Salem State offense sputtered, but Phil Sims threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Eric Williams just before halfime and then Sims tied the game early in the fourth quarter on a 20-yards strike to Brenden Felder.  The Rams took their first and only lead of the game on Will Johnson's 29-yard field goal with 5:48 left in the game.

But Johnson, named Most Valuable Player for VSU in the game, led the Virginia State offense down the field and then into the end zone for the win.
"I'm proud of my team with the way they stayed poised and stayed tough, and I'm proud of Niko," said Virginia State head coach Latrell Scott. "We didn't change the offense much at all. We didn't throw as much. But he (Johnson) knows the system and the schemes." 

Johnson threw for 125 yards on 12-of-19 passing for the day, but rushed for 76 yards and a his touchdown.  Sims,who was named the MVP for the Rams, was 15-for-20 for 173 yards and two touchdowns for Winston-Salem State.  The Rams were held to 109 yards rushing on the day.

“It was a hard-fought football game — and it’s unfortunate somebody had to lose — but we came up on the short end of the stick,” Winston-Salem State head coach Kienus Boulware told the Winston=Salem Journal. “The team that made the fewest mistakes is going to win, so I want to congratulate Virginia State.

“It just wasn’t our time at the end.”

Virginia State entered the game ranked seventh in NCAA Division II Super Region I while Winston-Salem State was ranked fourth. The top six teams in the region will advance to the playoffs. The 24-team playoff field will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m.

Grambling-Southern Both Looking at This Week and Not Towards a Potentially Huge Nov. 29 Bayou Classic; MEAC Race Still Up For Grabs; Look at ALL the HBCU Football Action Today


One side of the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game may have already been decided as Alcorn State will be playing in Houston on Dec. 6.  But Grambling and Southern are battling down to the wire to see who will be in the Braves opponent.

Today, Grambling hosts Alabama State, a team that has been up and down all season at 5-5 and 4-4 in conference play, while Southern hosts Mississippi Valley State.  A Grambling win and a Southern loss gives the Tigers the SWAC West title and the slot in the SWAC Championship Game. 

That's exactly why Southern is focused so much on the 2-8 Delta Devils and not a potentially huge nationally televised, annual match-up with Grambling in the annual Bayou Classic on Nov. 29.

"We tell our guys not to get caught up in social media. Look at what's in front of you. Let's take care of business," said Southern head coach Dawson Odums, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune. "One thing we know is that if we keep winning, everything else will take care of itself. Mississippi Valley is a good team. Their record may not indicate it. But if you watch them on film they're getting better.''

Mississippi Valley State has the least productive offense in the SWAC and has lost three in a row. But they played decently well in losses to Arkansas-Pine Bluff (24-14) two weeks ago and Grambling (38-23) last week.

Southern has won five in a row, but has given up at least 20 points in each of those games -- four of them fairly close games.

Meanwhile, Grambling will try to stop the nation's sixth-leading rusher in Malcolm Cyrus, who has 1,320 yards and eight touchdowns rushing this season.  Cyrus is has been added to the Walter Payton Award watch list, which monitors the contenders for the award for the nation's top running back. Grambling will also have to watch for ASU quarterback Daniel Duhart who has thrown for more than 1,700 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014.

Grambling sports the SWAC's third-best rushing defense, but gives up 29 points a game.  Alabama State broke a four-game losing streak with a 26-10 win over Jackson State last week.

Kickoff for the Grambling-Alabama State game is 2 p.m. while Southern-MVSU begins at 6 p.m. eastern.

Here is the rest of the HBCU football action for today:


Prairie View A&M at Alabama A&M (Prairie View is looking to end the season at the .500 level, along with a potentially 5-4 winning SWAC record, today. The Panthers have won four of their last five, led by quarterback Jerry Lovelocke (2,106 yards and 14 touchdowns) and running back Johnta Hebert (935 yards and ten TDs).  Defense is the Panther problem as they give up 35 points a game and are next to last in the SWAC in total defense.  Alabama A&M is looking to get to the .500 mark in the conference play. They are fair on offense as quarterback Jaymason Lee averages 200 yards passing a game and has thrown 15 touchdowns.   The Bulldogs do play good defense as they rank fourth in the SWAC)

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Alcorn State

Jackson State at Texas Southern (These are two teams on bad streaks. Jackson State has lost five straight games and is now 3-7 this season while Texas Southern, which started out 4-0 and won five of their first six, have lost four in a row. At 5-5, they are hoping to squeeze out a winning season today)


South Carolina State at Morgan State (South Carolina State have have gotten some breathing room in the MEAC race as Bethune-Cookman lost Thursday, leaving the Bulldogs and North Carolina A&T in first place.  But Morgan State has been deep in the mix for the top spot, only one game out, but looking up after losing 45-0 to North Carolina A&T last week. South Carolina State needs to win today and next week and hope for a North Carolina A&T loss if they want to claim the title)

Howard at Central Connecticut

North Carolina A&T at Savannah State (North Carolina A&T, the top team in the ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS Top Ten poll, can win the MEAC title if they win today against winless Savannah State and next week at North Carolina Central.  Savannah State is looking to pull off a big upset, which would be a big lift to an otherwise dismal season)

North Carolina Central at Norfolk State (Norfolk State is still smarting from last week's close loss to Bethune-Cookman, but the Spartans are looking to win their home finale and try to win a couple of games to get to a .500 record overall this season and still finish in a second place tie in the MEAC.  North Carolina Central also has a 4-2 conference record and is looking for their sixth win of the season)

Florida A&M at Delaware State (These are two two-win teams with disappointing seasons who are hoping to end 2014 with a couple of wins.  FAMU has lost three in a row, but looked good in losses until they ran into South Carolina State last week. Delaware State shocked Norfolk State four weeks ago and only lost by a touchdown to Howard last week)


Bacone at Langston (Langston is the 17th ranked team in the NAIA and 4-0 in the Central States Football League.  They are 6-3 and have won five straight. They play a Bacone team that has lost their last four and are 3-7 overall)

Lincoln (Mo) at Missouri S&T (The Blue Tigers close out their season in the snow today, looking for a win to help sooth the pains of a 2-8 record. Missouri S&T is 3-7 and 2-5 in conference play, a game ahead of Lincoln which has lost three straight games. Missouri S&T has lost four in the row)

Cheyney at Seton Hill

Tuskegee-Albany State in the SIAC and Virginia State-Winston-Salem State in the CIAA Make Up a HUGE HBCU D-2 Championship Saturday

Tuskegee makes a tackle in their win earlier this season over Albany State (photo by Tim Morse/Albany Herald)
It's championship Saturday in HBCU Division II football with two huge title game matchups, one a rematch from earlier this season and another where a big title battle didnt even get played last year.

In the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the conference's two biggest football names in Albany State and Tuskegee square off in Montgomery, Ala., to see who is the SIAC's best this year.

It's a chance for Albany State (7-2, 7-0 SIAC), the defending conference champs, to avenge their last lost this season, a 20-12 decision to Tuskegee in mid-September.

Since then, the Golden Rams have run off seven straight wins where the most they've given up has been 21 and that was to Fort Valley State last week.  Albany State has the SIAC's top defense, giving up 229 yards and 14 points a game this season. They are led by junior linebacker Tavarius Washington who is third in the conference in tackles with 79 and had five sacks.

Jarvis Small,the SIAC's leading rusher, heads the offense with 1,129 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Frank Rivers has been steady at quarterback, throwing for more than 1,700 and nine touchdowns.

“We were hoping to get the opportunity to play one of them again,” Albany State head coach Mike White told the Albany Herald. “They’re a good football team and they’re playing well. They are putting up major points, and they’re confident, you can tell by what they’re doing offensively. The ball is going everywhere, deep, short, they’re running inside, running outside, it’s hard for teams to slow them down right now.”

Last week, Tuskegee (8-2, 7-0 SIAC) knocked off Miles 48-33, for their seventh win in a row.  During that streak, they've averaged 43 points per game. The Golden Tigers have the SIAC's top offense as Hoderick Lowe and Michael Thornton have combined for nearly 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing.  The Golden Tigers also boast the conference's second best defense that gives up only 18 points a game.

Last year Tuskegee missed out on this match-up when Miles surprised in Tuskegee and earning a berth in the SIAC title game.

"I think [his seniors] realize, we had this same opportunity last year and just blew it," Tuskegee head coach Willie Slater told the Montgomery Advertiser. "I don't think they want to blow the opportunity. We might not be good enough to beat them, but I think we're going to be ready to play."

CIAA Championship - Virginia State vs. Winston-Salem State

Last season, both Winston-Salem State and Virginia State were undefeated in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association play at 7-0 as they headed into the CIAA Championship game.  But a bizarre attack of WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson by some Virginia State players during a pre-championship game luncheon led to the cancellation of the game everyone had been waiting for.

This year, the battle between the two teams will finally make it to the football field.

Again, both teams are 7-0 in conference play with Winston-Salem State sitting atop the national HBCU Division II football standings all year, with their only loss all season coming in a close battle with national power Valdosta State.  Virginia State lost their first two games, non-conference matchups with California (Pa) and Lenoir Rhyne) but ran off eight consecutive wins to take the CIAA North title.

Virginia State will be without their starting quarterback, Tarian Ayers, who was suspended for a violation of teams rules for this game. Ayers was arrested and charged with DUI, speeding and underaged possesion of alcohol last Sunday.  Ayers, the CIAA's second-ranked passer, has thrown for 1,827 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

The Trojans have had the second-highest scoring offense in the CIAA this year, averaging 32 points a game. Backup quarterback Niko Johnson, who has only thrown three passes this year, will step in to run the offense.  He will get help from dependable rusher Kavon Bellamy, who has run for 723 yards and ten touchdowns this season for the CIAA's third-best rushing offense. Earl Hughes has added nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

"Niko will be fine," VSU head coach Lattrell Scott told The Hopewell News Patriot. "Niko is an accomplished quarterback, but he just hasn't had the opportunity to play a lot because of our quarterback situation ... He's done a great job of being ready every week and he'll surprise people."

Virginia State also sports the CIAA's second-ranked defense, led by Brandon Robinson who had 61.5 tackles, four sacks, ten tackles for losses and two recovered fumbles this season. Darion Thomas leads a ball-hawking secondary with four interceptions this season, part of the CIAA-leading 14 picks the Trojans defense had in 2014.

"I couldn’t be more proud of this team this season," Scott told the Winston Salem Journal after last Saturday's win over Virginia Union. "We came into the season saying that we had unfinished business — and now we get another chance at the CIAA title."

While VSU is great on offense and defense, Winston-Salem State led the CIAA in both categories in 2014.

Quarterback Rudy Johnson, the player who was jumped in that attack last season, injured an ankle last week in their win over Fayetteville State but said he would play this week.  But he has been part of a quarterback tandem this year with Phil Sims.  Splitting time, they've combined for 2,668 yards and 23 touchdowns passing.

Maurice Lewis (633 yards, 7 touchdowns), Mustafa Green (456 yards, 6 TDs) and Tyree Massey (388 yards and 6 TDs) have provided a solid running game to go with the spectacular passing game.

On defense, the Rams interestingly don't have a tackler in the CIAA's top 20 as linebacker Terry Ross leads the team with 55 stops and two sacks. But Winston-Salem State has the nation's sixth-ranked defense, giving up only 274 yards to opposing teams as they've only allowed 12.6 points per game and have sacked quarterbacks 27 times this season. 

While last year's altercation and cancellation (Virginia State was ruled ineligible for the championship giving Winston-Salem State the 2013 CIAA title) is still on the minds of both teams, both sides say the focus is on winning the game, the CIAA title and heading into the NCAA Division II playoffs.

"It's win or go home," WSSU head coach Kienus Boulware told the Winston Salem Journal. "We know that if our season is to continue, we can’t slip up in this game,” Boulware said. “And it would be a shame because we are very good shape and I think we are set up to make a run (in the playoffs)."

"We’re much better than we were in week one and week two," Scott said, according to the Winston Salem Journal. "We’re finishing games now. It’s been a really humble group, a very focused group. Because we all know how it can all be taken away from us in one second."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hampton's Jerrell Antoine's Tosses Five TD Passes to Give Hampton a 45-30 Win Over Bethune-Cookman and Derail Their Title Hopes

Photo by The Daily Press (Va)
Bethune-Cookman has been rolling through this season and outside a MEAC loss at South Carolina State and one to Division I Central Florida, the Wildcats seemed primed for a run at a MEAC title and another NCAA FCS playoff berth.

That was until Thursday night when they went to Hampton.

The Pirates, who only had two wins all season, rode the arm of freshman Jerrell Antoine and his five touchdown passes to win a wild back-and-forth game 45-30 over Bethune-Cookman.

The loss knocks Bethune-Cookman (8-3, 5-2 MEAC) out of a first-place tie with North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State and leaves them hoping for a lot of losses from a lot of people this week and next week if they are going to eake out a conference title.

“Tonight, a lot of things caught up with this football team,” Bethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins told the Daytona News Journal after the game. “They played fundamental football, and we didn't. They just flat-out beat us. We're out of playoff contention, out of championship contention. We can do nothing but wipe the egg off our face and get ready to play another good football team in FAMU.”

Bethune-Cookman leads FCS football in total defense.  But the Pirates had their way with the Wildcats as Antoine was 21-of-34 for 249 yards in the air.  On the ground another freshman, Eric Carter added 120 yards.

“We had to keep the defense guessing,” Antoine told The Daily Press newspaper. “We couldn’t be a one-dimensional team. We had to be able to run the ball, pass the ball, do everything. That’s what we had to do.”

Bethune-Cookman actually outgained Hampton -- 483 yards to 422 -- as Anthony Jordan rushed for 81 yards and three touchdowns, Michael Jones ran for 92 yards and a TD and quarterback Quentin Williams added 52 yards on the ground. Williams also threw for 194 yards.

But Hampton moved the ball when they needed.

“We don’t have any quit in us,” Hampton head coach Connell Maynor told The Daily Press. “What we always say is that we’ve got to find a way to win a game in the fourth quarter, and make plays late and finish, and that’s what we did today.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Morehouse Wins 7th Consecutive SIAC Men's Cross Country Title While Benedict Women Are Back-to-Back Champs


The only bad news for the Morehouse cross country team this past weekend is that they didn't win the individual men's SIAC Cross Country title. Other than that, they dominated, as usual.

The Maroon Tigers had six of the top ten finishers in the SIAC Conference Championship meet to easily win their seventh consecutive championship.

Morehouse runners finished second, third, fourth and fifth (Dahir Mohamed, Chris Wilder, Gerald Jones and Shinlola Agbede) and ninth and tenth (Novian Middleton and Michael Wooten) to easily outpoint the field in the team category.  Benedict finished second while Kentucky State was third.

Benedict's Bessie Demlew, the SIAC's top-ranked runner heading into the meet, lived up to top billing as he won the individual overall meet with a time of 25:37.011.
On the women's side, Benedict's women were just as dominant as they placed five in the women's top 11 to win the women's team title, their second consecutive title. Jonnise Pierce (2nd), Jenella John (4th), Mikarla Swann (5th) and Astacia Watkins (7th) all finished in the top ten. 

Claflin's Carrie Byrd finished first to win the women's overall title with a time of 20:25.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Final Regular Season ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT D-2 Football Top Ten Sees Top Four Battling for Titles; MEAC's Final Two Weeks Likely Will Determine FCS Top Spot

Winston-Salem State head coach Kienus Boulware

The final regular season Division II ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT Football Top Ten finds the top four team squaring off against each other in conference championship games this weekend.

Top-ranked Winston-Salem State and No. 3 Virginia State will battle in the CIAA championship game at 1:30 p.m. EST Saturday while second-ranked Tuskegee and fourth-ranked Albany State square off later that day in the SIAC title game at 7 p.m. central time.

While their battles determine whether there will be back-to-back champs in the SIAC (Albany State) and CIAA (Winston-Salem State) or not, the rest of the D-2 Top Ten has seen the end of the 2014 campaign.  Only Virginia Union is hanging on to slim hopes for a NCAA Division II playoff berth.  Seventh-ranked Morehouse is happy with a 6-4 season that comes after two disappointing losing years while Miles will look back at a bad start in which they lost three of the first four for sinking their postseason hopes.

In the FCS poll, there are still two more weeks left in the season.  North Carolina A&T holds on to the top spot, but South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman all could lay claim to the top spot as the three only have one conference loss -- to each other.

Streaking Grambling, ranked fourth after seven straight wins, faces 10th ranked Alabama State Saturday and then what could be a huge regular-season finale against sixth ranked Southern a week later as they battle for the SWAC Western Division crown and a spot in the SWAC Championship game against fifth-ranked Alcorn State.

So this Saturday will be a HUGE weekend.

Here are the entire ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS/DIVISION II Football Top Ten polls:

1) North Carolina A&T
2) South Carolina State
3) Bethune-Cookman
4) Grambling
5) Alcorn State
6) Southern
7) North Carolina Central
8) Norfolk State
9) Morgan State
10) Alabama State


1) Winston-Salem State
2) Tuskegee
3) Virginia State
4) Albany State
5) Virginia Union
6) Miles
7) Morehouse
8) Fayetteville State
9) Fort Valley State
10) Stillman

CIAA Set For Championship Game Rematch While SIAC Has Best Offense Against Best D in Title Game


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.