Golden Tigers rout Lane to get back on winning track



Even though Tuskegee QB Justin Nared (17) was under severe duress on this particular play from Lane's Gabriel Mass (55), that still did not prevent Larry Cobb (19) from finishing Saturday's game with five receptions for 96 yards.

JACKSON, TENN. - A one-point lead was broken open with 27 consecutive points by the Golden Tigers in the second half, and Tuskegee improved to 3-1 overall with a 42-14 victory over Lane College Saturday afternoon in the first conference game between both teams this season.

The game was broken open on the two touchdown plays by Tuskegee in the third quarter.  Michael Thornton had a 14-yard run to push the lead to 22-14, before Joshua Crowescored on a 21-yard run about five minutes later.  The final score of the game was a 29-yard reception late in the fourth quarter from Rashard Burkette to Marquel Gardner, giving Tuskegee their fourth consecutive touchdown of the second half with 27 unanswered points.

Tuskegee Coach Willie Slater said that there weren't any major speeches given or any major attitude adjustments amongst the players during the halftime break, when the Golden Tigers only had a 15-14 lead.  Instead, minor adjustments in coaching made a major difference.

"We really didn't tell the guys anything," Slater said.  "We had long drives during the first half, so we weren't going to change anything.  We just had to execute better.  All we did was make a couple of adjustments on defense."

Half of Lane's points during the contest came on a muffed punt return by Tuskegee, giving the Dragons their best field position of the day.  This allowed them to score on the first play of the second quarter, when George Landrum caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Chris Rini.

"That mistake was one that could be a potential momentum changer for a lot of teams," Slater said.  "But, the thing about that mistake was that it was a bad decision on our part.  We were ultimately trying to make something positive happen, and things didn't work out.  We still managed to string together long drives in the first half, and it all came down to making the proper adjustments."

Tuskegee had a total of 546 yards of offense during the contest, as compared to 251 yards for Lane.  The big advantage Tuskegee had was the ground game, as the Golden Tigers had 304 yards off of 41 carries.  By comparison, Lane couldn't get the ground game going, as they only had 48 yards for the entire contest.

Five different Tuskegee players had a minimum of 40 yards rushing on Saturday, led by Michael J. Thornton's effort of 71 yards off of six carries.  But, the biggest attribute in the running game was the return of two key offensive linemen that did not play in the first three games of the season in Christopher Tolbert and Ryan Jackson.

"A lot of it had to do with two of our starters from last year returning on the line," Slater said.  "They are a key part of what we have to do, and Chris played in his first game after sitting out the first three games due to injury."

Tuskegee's 35-13 loss against Winston-Salem State in the Cleveland Classic two weeks ago was the worst loss for the Golden Tigers since a 20-0 loss in October, 2011 against Kentucky State in Frankfort.  But, Slater attributed proper preparation for that game in carrying over for his players to achieve prime performance last Saturday.  He also said that the victory in Tennessee was a far more important game, since it was the conference opener for the squad in 2013.

"This was our first conference game, so win or lose, I was really concerned about how we would come out this week," Slater said.  "We were fortunate enough to fly to the Cleveland game, and that helped us focus more on football.  This win is the first step towards what we want to accomplish, and we just have to take it a week at a time and begin to focus on Fort Valley State."

The Wildcats are the reigning SIAC East Division Champions, and are currently the only unbeaten team from that division in conference play.  They pulled to .500 overall this week after suffering their first two losses of the season against reigning NCAA Division II National Champion Valdosta State and NCAA Division I FCS foe Savannah State.  Next Saturday's game marks the first meeting between the schools since Tuskegee swept the first-ever season series between the two schools in 2012. 

The Golden Tigers defeated Fort Valley State 49-18 in the second home game of the season before winning the SIAC Championship in Atlanta by a score of 55-24 in the November rematch.  The Wildcats have won their two conference matchups over the past two weeks by a total of eight points, first by defeating Clark Atlanta 12-9 on the road in double overtime.  On Saturday, they defeated Benedict 35-30 in their final road game before their home opener this week. 

Kickoff of the upcoming game between Tuskegee and Fort Valley State will take place this Saturday in Fort Valley, Georgia, beginning at 6:00 p.m. Eastern/5:00 p.m. Central.

BY: Michael Stewart, Sports Information Director, Tuskegee University

© 2013 Tuskegee University 

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