Jacksonville, Florida-The Edward Waters University football squad seems to have quite the flair for the dramatic. For the second straight contest, a late fourth quarter touchdown pass with less than :10 remaining gives the Tigers a SIAC win. This time, it was Jyron Russell’s1-yard pass to Deven Thompson with :08 remaining, giving Edward Waters a 31-27 victory over Albany State, Saturday evening at the Nathaniel Glover Community Field & Stadium. The victory. for the Tigers, extends their win streak to five in a row, and clinches at worst a .500 record for the first time since the 2012 season. It was also Edward Waters’ first victory over Albany State since 1967, the year in which the program went dormant until its return in 2001.
Edward Waters came out of the gates strong, capping off an eight play, 72 yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown to Johnny Jones on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. From there, Albany State took control, responding with an opening drive TD of their own to tie things up at 7-7 with 10:12 remaining in the 1st quarter. Things got tough for the Tigers on their ensuing drive as after a three-and-out, a bad snap that went over punter Irving Friedman’s head, went out of the back of the end zone giving the visitors a 9-7 lead with 8:27 remaining. After the EWU free kick, Albany State extended their lead thanks to a three-yard rushing TD to take a 15-7 advantage. The Golden Rams added a two-point conversion to push the lead to 10 at 17-7. The Golden Rams added another touchdown to their tally with another run of 17 yards and pushed their advantage to three scores at 24-7 with 9:46 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
The Tigers were finally able to break the Albany State scoring spree with 1:00 remaining before halftime when Johnny Jones hauled in his second TD of the game, this one from four yards out to cut the deficit back to 10 at the half at 24-14.
The EWU defensive unit was the unsung hero of the contest as after conceding 24 first half points to Albany State, Edward Waters only gave up three points in the second half. Edward Waters cut the lead down to seven at the 1:40 mark of the third quarter, thanks to a 22-yard field goal from Friedman, making it a 24-17 ballgame heading to another frenetic fourth quarter finish. The Golden Rams cashed in with an 18-yard field goal to push the lead back to 10 at 27-17. From there, it was all Purple & Orange as Russell capped off another long TD drive, this one spanning 85 yards on 11 plays with a four-yard TD from DeShaun Hugee to cut the deficit to three at 27-24. The Tiger defense was called into action once again, desperately needing to force a three-and-out from Albany State and put their red hot offense back on the field. EWU was able to rise to the occasion to get the football back to the offense with 2:06 remaining in the game.
Edward Waters would need to go 84 yards to set up another thrilling victory. Russell and the offense drove down to the one yard line, and with :08 remaining, found Deven Thompson to give EWU a 31-27 lead. Albany State could only try a series of laterals on the ensuing kickoff, only for it to fail and Edward Waters would have their second straight thrilling finish and an upset of another SIAC “blue blood” program.
The Tigers finished the contest with 391 yards of total offense with 281 through the air and 110 on the ground. Albany State finished with 282 total yards, 185 rushing and 97 passing. With Jyron Russell’s effort tonight, he becomes the new modern era single season passing yards leader with 2,220 yards so far this season. He also eclipsed the single season passing TDs mark with his three passing touchdowns, giving him 18 passing TDs on the year. Both marks surpass former Edward Waters QB Dexter L. Davis who had 2,132 yards and 17 touchdowns during his senior season in 2004. Russell finished the contest 22-34 passing for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Nathan Rembert led the Tigers with four catches for 79 yards, while Jones finished with eight receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Hugee was the Tigers’ leading ball carrier with 12 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Widmyer Garçon turned in another tremendous tackling display with 13 tackles and one tackle for loss, while Ahmaud Jordan had 10 total tackles for the Tigers.
Edward Waters will hit the road for the final time in the 2023 regular season on Saturday, October 28th just outside of Columbia, South Carolina as they will face the Yellow Jackets of Allen University in the 4th annual AME Football Classic. Kickoff is slated for 2:00pm.