JACKSON, Tenn. – The 18th-ranked Tuskegee University Golden Tigers overcame a sluggish start to defeat Lane College 41-14 in the SIAC opener on an overcast Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Tigers outgained Lane on the afternoon 481 yards to 230 yards. The game was balanced as Tuskegee gained 240 yards through the air, and 241 on the ground.
Kevin Lacey led the way with 81 yards rushing, and all 241 yards passing on 10-of-18 with a pair of touchdowns. Kenno Loyal chipped in with 68 yards on eight carries, while Desmond Reece led all receivers with 110 yards on three receptions.
Defensively, Jewell Ratliff led the way with 9.5 tackles including a tackle for los, while Jason Ashley and Osband Thompson added six each in the victory.
Tuskegee (4-0, 1-0 SIAC) came out quickly in the second half, using one play to get on the board. Junior quarterback Kevin Lacey dropped back and hit senior Desmond Reece streaking down the field for a 67-yard touchdown just 21 seconds into the second half.
The play was the fifth longest touchdown for the Golden Tigers this season, and was the second longest play from scrimmage this season – only trailing a 79-yard touchdown reception by Van Powell.
Lane was able to take six minutes off the clock in the third quarter as they went down the field, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown pass by Marcus Reynolds. The touchdown was the first in four quarters against the Tuskegee defense, and just the fourth this season in four games.
Tuskegee answered right back in the third quarter.
After a touchdown reception was called back, and a pair of dead ball fouls the Golden Tigers restarted the drive from their 37-yard line. Lacey scrambled around and through the Lane defense for a 17-yard touchdown run and a commanding 27-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Golden Tigers added a pair of touchdowns late for the final margin.
Although the Golden Tigers struck early and often in the second half, the first half did not start out the same way. After a sluggish start from both teams that saw two turnovers on their first two possessions, the Golden Tigers settled in late in the first quarter.
Tuskegee was forced into a turnover in two of their first three plays, both interceptions by Kevin Lacey; however, they were able to move the ball on their third possession. They moved the ball 48 yards in six plays, highlighted by a 53-yard pass from Lacey to freshman Peyton Ramzy. The drive stalled with 6:05 play, and although Tuskegee missed a field goal, it was a sign of things to come.
The Golden Tigers continued to move the ball in the first half, getting on the board with just 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Following a Jonah McCutcheon interception, the Golden Tigers were able to convert 18 yards later with a 35-yard field goal from Kemuel Lawrence.
Tuskegee was able to get things going on their second drive of the second quarter.
The Golden Tigers used a 7-play, 50-yard drive highlighted by a 17-yard pass from Lacey to Jerome Lewis. Following the pass and a short running play, Lacey danced around in the pocket and evaded a snap before scampering seven yards for a touchdown with 4:40 to play in the half.
Near the end of the half, Tuskegee moved the ball down the field with a 23-yard pass from Lacey to Desmond Reece and a 19-yard run by Lacey. The junior quarterback hit Marquel Gardner in the back of the end zone with five seconds remaining, however, it was called back due to illegal touching. As the clock wound down in the half, Lawrence drilled a 36-yard field goal to end the half and give Tuskegee a 13-0 advantage.
Tuskegee returns to play next week at UNC Pembroke, with kick scheduled at 2 pm (est).