COLUMBUS, Ga. — Tuskegee tied a school record that stood alone for 19 years, as they picked off five passes from Morehouse College en route to a 35-7 victory in the 80th annual Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The victory is the ninth in 10 tries under Willie Slater against Morehouse, and is the 11th victory in the last 12 meetings for Tuskegee in the series.
Tuskegee (5-1, 1-0 SIAC) started early and continued throughout the game disrupting the best offense statistically in the SIAC, as they picked off two passes in the first quarter.
The first came after a five play-40 yard drive that put the Golden Tigers ahead 7-0, when redshirt freshman Darius Holmes made an acrobatic interception at the Tuskegee 41-yard line. Holmes was able to fight through the Morehouse receiver on the play, tipping the ball in the air and coming down with it to kill a Maroon Tiger drive.
After Tuskegee went ahead 14-0 with 3:51 to play in the opening quarter, senior linebacker Jason Ashley got in on the act as he picked off a pass from Kivon Taylor and raced 29 yards for another Tuskegee touchdown just seven seconds later to push the lead to three touchdowns.
The Golden Tigers picked off two more passes in the second quarter to push their total to four for the game. Holmes picked off his second pass of the game with 8:23 to play in the half, and that was followed by an interception by Brandon Griffin – the first of his career – with just 55 seconds remaining in the half.
Just 87 seconds into the third quarter, sophomore Jonah McCutcheon picked off his fourth pass of the season and the fifth of the game for the Golden Tigers – matching a mark that was set in 1986 against Miles College.
Although the defense tied a school record for interceptions in game, there plenty of highlights for Tuskegee on the day.
Senior Tyree Brooks saw his most action of the season after missing the first three games due to injury, carrying the ball 10 times for 51 yards. He was able to score a pair of touchdowns, and narrowly missed out on a third as he was tackled inside the five as the clock was winding down in the fourth quarter.
A pair of players made their return from injury on Saturday with senior Dennis Norfleet carrying the ball five times for 31 yards, including scoring his first career touchdown as jumped over a pair of players for the seven-yard score. He also caught a pass, and returned a punt 35 yards – although he had a pair of long kick returns called back. Meanwhile junior Julian Morgan returned after missing the last three games to record four tackles and three quarterback hurries on the afternoon.
Tuskegee started early and scored often in the first half en route to building an insurmountable 35-point advantage in the first half.
The Golden Tigers jumped on top with 11:16 remaining in the opening quarter when Josh Matthews took a handoff and went up the middle for an eight-yard run and a 7-0 Tuskegee lead. The lead grew to 14-0 after Brooks’ first touchdown run of the day, an eight-yard run with 3:51 remaining in the opening quarter.
After Ashley’s touchdown made it 21-0 near the end of the first quarter, the Golden Tigers punched it in on the Norfleet run with 13:26 remaining in the half. The final points of the half, and the game, for Tuskegee came on a two-yard run by Brooks with 9:16 remaining in the opening half.
Morehouse (3-3, 1-0 SIAC) was able to get on the board in the third quarter when Taylor found a streaking Amyr Smith up the seam for a 42-yard score with 1:35 remaining in the quarter.
Offensively, Tuskegee was able to put up 197 yards in the air with junior Kevin Lacey connecting on 9-of-17 passing for 148 yards. Meanwhile, junior Nicholas Pope finished 5-of-8 in a back-up role for 49 yards.
Along with Brooks and Norfleet, junior Branden Wilson finished with 28 yards on four carries. Matthews finished with 26 yards on three carries, and Cameron Nash 23 yards on eight carries.
Senior Marquel Gardner led the Golden Tigers with three catches for 33 yards, while Desmond Reece led a trio of receivers with a pair of receptions.
Defensively, senior Jewell Ratliff finished – for the fifth consecutive game – with double digit tackles as he recorded 12 in the victory, on his way to being the Golden Tigers’ Most Valulable Player of the Game. He finished with a sack and two tackles for loss.
Jose Sanchez added six tackles, while Devonta Ramseur finished with five. The Golden Tigers finished with a pair of sacks, three tackles for loss, eight pass break-ups and eight quarterback hurries.