Tuskegee, Alabama- Conceding a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Edward Waters was left with just :25 to respond. Driving down to the Tuskegee 46-yard line with :02 remaining, Jyron Russell fired up a Hail Mary, which was answered by Arsiah McCorker, giving the Tigers a monumental 41-38 victory over the Golden Tigers on their Homecoming, Saturday afternoon at Cleve L. Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium. The victory for the Tigers extends their winning streak to four in a row, gives them their first victory in four tries over Tuskegee, and gives the Golden Tigers their first conference loss of the season.
Edward Waters (4-3, 4-2 SIAC) had to withstand an early attack from Tuskegee (5-2, 4-1 SIAC) as the Golden Tigers scored on their first two drives of the contest. Tuskegee got into the scoring act quickly on their opening drive, on a three play, 60 yard drive that was capped off with a four-yard rushing TD to take an early 7-0 lead. After an Edward Waters three and out on their opening drive, the Golden Tigers doubled up their lead, thanks to a 28-yard rushing TD to give them a 14-0 advantage. The EWU offense stalled once again, forcing a punt to the Tuskegee 16-yard line. On the drive opener, Jaren Wilson knifed into the backfield, hitting the TU quarterback which caused a fumble that James Gary recovered in the end zone, giving the visitors their first points of the contest at 14-7. Back-to-back three and outs occurred for both squads, setting the Golden Tigers up with a 1st & 10 at the Tuskegee 33-yard line. The quarter closed with Jonathan Gregory recording his first interception of the season, putting the ball at EWU’s 34-yard line.
Quarter #2 saw the Purple & Orange drive down to the Tuskegee 36, where Russell, who appeared to be sacked, never went down and was able to break away for a 36-yard touchdown to knot the scoring up at 14-14. Tuskegee was able to drive down and kick a 31-yard field goal with :29 remaining in the half to take a 17-14 halftime lead.
The third quarter scoring was opened by Johntarrious Thomas, who capped off a five play, 91-yard drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown that gave Edward Waters its first lead of the game at 21-17 with 7:27 remaining. Tuskegee wasted no time, scoring on a 59-yard touchdown pass to quickly retake the lead at 24-21 with 6:19 remaining.
The frenetic fourth quarter scoring opened at the 6:34 mark, when Nathan Rembert hauled in a 13-yard TD reception on a WR pass from Yanez Rogers, allowing EWU to retake the lead at 28-24. On the ensuing kickoff, it appeared that Edward Waters recovered a Tuskegee fumble and would have the ball deep in Golden Tiger territory, but the official indicated that the returner was down prior to the ball being fumbled. Edward Waters was able to force a fumble on the Tuskegee running back on the first play from scrimmage, setting them up at the Golden Tiger 28-yard line. Taking two plays, DeShaun Hugee scored on a 21-yard rushing TD to give EWU their largest lead of the contest at 35-24 with 5:27 left. The Golden Tigers would not go quietly, especially on their Homecoming as they fired back immediately on a five-play, 63-yard drive, taking all of :54 and finishing with a seven-yard rushing TD to cut into the Tiger lead at 35-31 with 4:26 left.
Edward Waters was charged with trying to bleed as much time on the clock to escape with victory, but were only able to take off 1:59, and punting the football back to TU with 2:21 remaining. With the ball placed at the Tuskegee 30-yard line, the Golden Tigers began a march of 10 plays and 70 yards which was topped off with an 11-yard, go ahead touchdown with :25 remaining, making it a 38-35 TU lead and setting up the penultimate drive. The Purple & Orange took over at their 35-yard line and got to work, ultimately driving to the Golden Tiger 46-yard line with :10 remaining. Russell’s first attempt a Hail Mary was broken up in the endzone, leaving just :02 remaining. The Golden Tigers went into a prevent defense, with their defenders standing within the TU 20-yard line looking to end the contest again with another pass breakup. On the Tigers’ final attempt, Russell heaved up a prayer toward the endzone as time expired, where McCorker was able to snatch the football away from a Golden Tiger defender, sending the EWU sideline into a frenzy, and giving Edward Waters its most enthralling victory since the program was reinstituted in 2001.
The Tigers offense took some time to get started, but was able to eclipse the 400 yard mark in total offense for the sixth time in seven contests, finishing 428 yards. As has been the case throughout the season, the bulk of the offense output came through the air, posting 354 yards passing, while 74 yards came on the ground. Russell finished his afternoon, going 17-31 passing for 341 yards and a touchdown. For the second straight contest, Nathan Rembert went over the 100-yard receiving mark, finishing with four catches for 123 yards and a touchdown, while Johnny Jones finished with seven snags for 58 yards. Defensively, Edward Waters was able to force four takeaways in the contest with three fumble recoveries and an interception, despite surrendering 461 yards of total offense. Jaren Wilson led the Tiger defense with six tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble. Freshman LB Ahmarion Moultrie also had his best contest of his young EWU career with six tackles and one forced fumble while Alabama native Quintorio Powell and LB Jonathan Nesbit also recorded sacks. Jonathan Gregory also stepped in front of a pass his first INT of the season.
The Tigers win also keeps them within one game of a top two spot in the SIAC and keeps them alive for a potential SIAC Championship Game berth. Edward Waters returns home next Saturday evening, October 21st for a 6:00pm kick against Albany State at the Nathaniel Glover Community Field and Stadium. The contest is designated as EWU’s Breast Cancer Awareness game and supporters are encouraged to were pink to show support of those in the fight against the disease.