Conference Championship Preview
The HBCU sports season is officially on, and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU GameTime will provide a weekly rundown on what’s happening on the field, and occasionally other sports-related topics. Let’s play!
Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime
It’s championship weekend.
As the HBCU football season winds down, four teams – two each from the SIAC and CIAA – get two play a little extra ball.
The SIAC championship game will take place in Atlanta and in a somewhat unlikely matchup Miles will take on Albany State. This is a rematch of the 2011 championship game, which Miles won 20-17.
The CIAA championship game will take place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina between two-time defending CIAA and Boxtorow national HBCU champion Winston-Salem State and Virginia State.
SIAC Championship Game
After struggling through the first half of the season, Miles has won four straight. The running game has been by committee effort and has been very productive, averaging 175 yards per game. David Thomas and Demetrius Price have shared time at quarterback and both have been efficient. But in the must-win scenario against Tuskegee last Saturday, head coach Reginald Ruffin went with the more experienced veteran Thomas who delivered, completing 30 of 40 passes for 312 yards with five touchdowns; he also rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Golden Bears 41-36 win.
Albany State is just as hot having also won four straight, including their must-win 19-10 victory over Fort Valley State in the annual Fountain City Classic in Columbus, Georgia. It was once again the “Dirty Blue” defense that was key for the Golden Rams, holding FVSU to 233 yards and forcing four sacks.
Albany State has a pretty solid offense led by Grambling transfer quarterback Frank Rivers. The Golden Bears are near bottom of the SIAC in total defense giving up almost 420 yards per game. The question becomes can the Golden Bears move the football against the stingy ASU defense?
Prediction: ASU defense plays big and the Golden Rams win.
CIAA Championship Game
Most people believe the Rams will make it three straight.
Not so fast.
Virginia State is also 9-1, their only loss coming to Benedict in the Urban League Classic in the second game of the season. Benedict caught VSU at the right time.
The Trojans have won eight straight and have beaten their last three opponents by a combined score of 108-17. Some might question the CIAA Northern Division’s toughness, but the Southern Division is tough and the Trojans are 3-0 against the South.
Trojans running back Jordan Anderson is a bruiser at 5-10, 220 pounds and has carried the ball 214 times for 1,142 yards and a league leading 20 touchdowns. Quarterback Justin Thorpe has been steady throughout the course of the year completing 61 percent of his passes for 1,296 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
As successful as Jordan has been and even with his size, the Trojans may have to use more of an air attack. WSSU not only has the No. 2 ranked defense in Division II, they are also No. 2 against the run, giving up only 66 yards rushing per game and only four rushing touchdowns all season.
The Trojans are very good against the run giving up only 95 yards a game and seven rushing touchdowns. The pass defense is an issue for the Trojans and as solid as WSSU’s run game is, they excel in the pass game. Quarterback Rudy Johnson leads the league in passing yards per game (230.7) and touchdowns (20) and completion percentage (62.8).
Prediction: VSU makes one more big play than WSSU and pulls off the upset.
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