ATLANTA – The 17th-ranked Tuskegee University Golden Tigers used every facet of the game to pull away from Clark Atlanta University 36-13 in the season opener at Panther Stadium in front of a capacity crowd Saturday night.
Tuskegee (1-0) used four interceptions to set the stage for the offense and it started on the first possession of the game. The Golden Tigers gave up a big play on the first play from scrimmage, but on the second play, Darnell Hill picked off a pass from Vanderbilt transfer Johnathon McCrary to stop the Panthers drive and give Tuskegee the ball. [easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”y” identifier=”B00PBD9M3C” locale=”US” tag=”hbcusports-20″]
The Golden Tigers responded on their first drive, marching 92 yards on 11 plays to take a quick lead. The drive took 7:23 off the clock and culminated with a quarterback sneak from the one, giving the Golden Tigers a 6-0 lead. During the drive, Tuskegee was able to run the ball eight times and used three completions from Lacey to jump on the scoreboard.
Tuskegee turned to special teams on the next Clark Atlanta possession.
A bad snap went through the hands of Panthers’ punter Ty Woods and into the end zone, where the freshman was able to fall on it after being tackled by Osband Thompson. The junior linebacker was almost able to strip the ball from Woods, but tackled him the end zone for an 8-0 Tuskegee lead with 5:27 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Golden Tigers weren’t done in the opening quarter, using good field position and taking just two plays for a 15-0 lead. Lacey hit senior tight end Leo Gilbert with a 38-yard touchdown pass after a short run from scrimmage with 4:30 left to play in the quarter.
Clark Atlanta ended an 11-quarter scoreless streak by punching into the end zone as time expired in the opening quarter, trimming the Tuskegee lead to 15-6.
However, the Golden Tigers responded when junior linebacker Quavon Taylor intercepted a McCrary pass and raced 37 yards into the end zone for the first defensive touchdown of the game, and a 22-6 Tuskegee lead with 8:50 remaining in the half.
After Clark Atlanta closed to within nine at the half, the Golden Tigers were able to pull away in the second half for the victory. Josh Matthews scored from one-yard out with 8:57 remaining in the third quarter for a 29-13 lead, and the scoring was complete when Jamarcus Ezell hit a diving Javarrius Cheatham in the back of the end zone with 11:28 remaining for the 36-13 lead.
Lacey led the Golden Tigers attack with 179 yards passing, pacing an offense that totaled 405 yards in the win. The senior quarterback did not miss a pass, finishing 8-for-8 on the night; while Ezell came off the bench to finish with 93 yards and a touchdown through the air. On the ground, Jayjerien Craig led the way with 61 yards on eight carries, while Kenny Gant finished with 53 yards on 10 carries for the Golden Tigers.
Thompson led the Golden Tigers defensively with 16 tackles, including eight solo and three tackles for loss. Tuskegee was able to force two sacks and 10 tackles for loss, while having four different players with interceptions on the night.
Tuskegee returns to action next Saturday in the Whitewater Classic against Albany State. Kickoff is set for 5 pm (est) at Garrett-Harrison Stadium in Phenix City (Ala.) and can be seen on the Tuskegee Digital Network.
Courtesy: Tuskegee Athletics