FORT VALLEY–Ga. Tuskegee University didn’t run up 50 points like it did last week, but instead pulled off a 13-6 defensive showcase against Fort Valley State to claim the 2017 SIAC Championship.
The Golden Tigers claimed its 31st Conference Championship in school history behind a steady dose of Hoderick Lowe. who rushed for 124 yards and scored two touchdowns. Lowe’s first score was a six-yard option pitch that put TU up 7-0 with 5:26 remaining in the first quarter.
That would be the only touchdown of the first half for either team, FVSU kicked a field goal in the second quarter for a 7-3 score at halftime. The defense continued to hold steady for both teams as neither squad was able to score in the third quarter. Kevis Jones led FVSU with seven tackles, while Osbond Thompson had another double-digit day for TU. The senior linebacker racked up 14 tackles and Kevin Dawson had 12 of his own.
Tuskegee’s best drive came in crunch time as it put together an 81-yard series ending with Lowe’s second touchdown. A missed extra point had TU up 13-3 with 7:44 remaining in the game.
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) November 11, 2017
Wildcats couldn’t close gap
Fort Valley State managed another field goal to pull within seven, however, and had an opportunity to potentially tie the game. Jarmon couldn’t find any receivers facing a 4th and 20 with under two minutes to go and was tackled by Thompson after an 8 yard rush. Three plays earlier Thompson had knocked away a pass that could have gone for a first down.
Tuskegee was still forced to punt with seconds remaining, after not being able to run the clock completely out. Fort Valley wasn’t able to make any magic on the return, however, as the clock struck zero and the visitors began their championship celebration.
Tuskegee’s season should continue with a bid to the upcoming NCAA Division II playoffs. The Golden Tigers were ranked ninth in last week’s Super Region Two poll and should they move up to at least number eight they would be granted “earned access” for winning the conference championship. Coach Willie Slater couldn’t guarantee a bid was forthcoming but said he felt pretty good about the team’s chances.
Tuskegee has finished this part of its season with a 9-2 overall record, playoffs or not, as well as an unbeaten conference record. The loss to Albany State didn’t count as a conference game. TU also garnered two wins against SWAC opponents in the 2017 season.
Fort Valley State finishes the year at 5-5 after its second straight appearance in the SIAC Championship game. Coach of the Year Kevin Porter appears to have the Wildcats headed in the right direction, even if they came up short on Saturday. Porter has been to the championship in each of his two seasons at the helm.
Saturday’s attendance was listed at 8,317 as the SIAC has returned to the championship game being hosted at school venues and out of Montgomery. The game will be held at the home field of the SIAC Western Division champion next season.