By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
A 2016 football season that was full of highs and a couple of stunning lows for Tuskegee wrapped up Thanksgiving weekend as the Golden Tigers completed their NCAA Division II football playoff run with a big loss to North Greenville. The loss came after a big win over second-seeded Newberry.
Not many people expected Tuskegee, a team that after steamrolling through the first part of the 2016 football season but stumbling to two losses in their last four games, to give 10-1 Newberry much of a challenge on the road.
But the Golden Tigers led most of the way in defeating Newberry 35-33 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs on Nov. 19.
Kenny Grant rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown while Kevin Lacey threw for 188 and two scores for Tuskegee. Most importantly, they kept a strong Newberry offense in check, only giving up 204 yards passing and 154 yards rushing.
Osband Thompson had a big day with ll tackles and a sack while Daryl George had two sacks and three tackles for losses for the Golden Tigers.
Tuskegee again had to hit the road on Nov. 26 for a second round matchup with North Greenville, a 9-3 team seeded sixth in the playoffs to Tuskegee's seventh.
But Tuskegee fell behind 28-0 in the first quarter as North Greenville's Will Hunter threw two touchdowns during that span. North Greenville also recovered a fumble for a touchdown. The lead was too much for Tuskegee to overcome as the Golden Tigers fell to North Greenville 45-26 to end their season at 9-3.
Lacey threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns as Tuskegee tried in vain to catch up. Javarrius Cheatham caught nine passes for 148 yards and a touchdown while Desmond Reese hauled in nine passes, one for a touchdown. Thompson had 14 tackles and forced a fumble while Kalil Gray had 12 tackles and Carl Matthews had ten.
North Greenville, which now visits North Alabama in the quarterfinals, was led by Hunter's 272 yards and three touchdown passes. Tracy Scott had 128 yards and a touchdown rushing with Ashton Heard adding 92 yards rushing for a team that had 511 yards of total offense.