Tuskegee needed a 10th game to make sure they would be eligible for the NCAA Division II football playoffs. They got the game. But they didn't get a win.
The bruising Virginia State rushing game was in full effect as Trenton Cannon rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and Kavon Bellamy added 82 yards as Virginia State improved their own playoff resume with a 45-33 win over Tuskegee Saturday.
What would have been Tuskegee's 10th game had been Stillman College. But Stillman dropped football and Tuskegee couldn't find anyone willing to play them in the thick of conference play. Had Tuskegee had not been upset by Kentucky State in October, the Golden Tigers would have played in Saturday's SIAC championship game, giving them a tenth game. But that didn't happen.
Albany State had agreed to play Tuskegee since they lost to Fort Valley State in a game that determined who would have played Kentucky State in the SIAC title game. Albany State lost that game last weekend, but two days later decided not to play Tuskegee for a second time this season.
Tuskegee officials, who were denied a waiver by the NCAA, furiously started calling around this week. Virginia State accepted Tuskegee's invite to come to Alabama and play the Golden Tigers.
It turned out to be a good thing for Virginia State and not so good thing for Tuskegee Saturday.
Tuskegee only led once, 7-3 in the first quarter after Kevin Lacey's 16-yard pass to Desmond Reece. But Virginia State answered and put the game away with 21 unanswered points on second quarter touchdowns from Tarian Ayers (a 2-yard touchdown pass), Marcus VanHook (79-yard punt return) and a 75-yard kickoff return for a TD by Cannon that opened the second half.
Tuskegee couldn't get any closer than ten points the rest of the way.
Ayers finished with 150 yards and a touchdown passing and 50 yards and a touchdown rushing for Virginia State. Lacey and Jamarcus Ezell combined for 242 yards and three TDs passing for Tuskegee. Reece finished with one TD rushing and two receiving. Osband Thompson had 15 tackles for Tuskegee, with Quavon Taylor adding ten.
Tuskegee, who had been ranked No. 6 in Super Region II last week, awaits Sunday's 5 p.m. NCAA announcement of the latest Super Region rankings. The top seven teams in each of the four Super Regions make the Division II playoffs. Virginia State is also hoping to make the playoffs, but both their losses came to Winston-Salem State, who was ranked tenth in Super Region I, and Bowie State, who was ranked ninth.