PEMBROKE, N.C. – The 17th-ranked Tuskegee University Golden Tigers fell for the first time this season, dropping a 29-17 contest to UNC-Pembroke that was decided in the final minutes of the game.
After battling from behind against the Braves, Tuskegee (4-1, 1-0 SIAC) took the lead early in the fourth quarter before UNC Pembroke came back to score two late touchdowns.
Kenno Loyal led the Golden Tigers rushing attack with 75 yards on 12 carries, including one touchdown. The rushing attack this week, with the field conditions and UNC Pembroke defense was held to just 89 yards rushing as a team. Meanwhile, Kevin Lacey passed for 153 yards with six passes to Desmond Reece for 50 yards, and four to Marquel Gardner for 54 yards.
Defensively, Jewell Ratliff finished with 11 tackles; while Ricky Norris, Daryl George and Jason Ashley each finished with six in the loss.
The Golden Tigers trimmed the lead to one possession at 16-10 with 5:21 to play in the third quarter. An 11-play drive covering 40 yards got down inside the five with three passes to Gardner. Tuskegee was able to get into the end zone but it was called back to an illegal formation, ultimately leading to a 20-yard field goal by Kemuel Lawrence.
Tuskegee took the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 12 play-80 yard drive which consumed 5:51 on the clock and gave the Golden Tigers their first lead of the game. The drive was highlighted by a couple of big plays by Leo Gilbert. The junior tight end picked up a first down on a nine-yard run, before making the big play of the drive. After a drop in the end zone by Gardner, Gilbert hauled in a pass at the two yard line which led to Lacey going over right guard for a score.
However, UNC Pembroke was able to come right back down the field with a big return on the kick setting the Braves up at their own 46-yard line. UNC Pembroke went 54 yards in eight plays, which ended when Rontonio Stanley scored from a yard out put the Braves back on top at 22-16.
And the game was sealed when UNC-Pembroke went 46 yards for the final score of the game.
After UNC-Pembroke kicked a field goal to open the second quarter and put Tuskegee behind 10-0 before the defense stepped up in a big way. The Golden Tigers forced a fumble inside the UNC-Pembroke 10-yard line with just under 10 minutes to play in the opening half, leading to a nine-yard touchdown run by Kenno Loyal on the first play from scrimmage to trim the deficit to 10-7 with 9:21 to play in the half.
UNC-Pembroke added to the lead with 3:21 to play in the opening half. The Braves picked off Lacey on the first play from scrimmage, driving 56 yards (on four plays) culminating with a 38-yard touchdown run by Rontonio Stanley to push the lead to 16-7 for UNC-Pembroke (the score at the half).
For just the second time this season, Tuskegee trailed after the first quarter as UNC-Pembroke took the opening kickoff down the field 59 yards on a six plays. The Golden Tigers forced UNC-Pembroke into a fourth down, before the Braves rolled quarterback Patrick O’Brien to the left where he found JoJo Spann for a 27-yard touchdown completion.
Tuskegee returns to action next Saturday in the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic at A.J. McClung Stadium in Columbus.