Say one thing about a Miles football game in 2018…leaving before the final second has ticked off the clock will probably mean you missed something.
The Golden Bears scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Smith to Leonard Tyree with 1:45 remaining, then forced four incomplete passes on the ensuing series – the last coming with 16 seconds left – to defeat Tuskegee 31-27 in front of a capacity Senior Day crowd at Sloan-Alumni Stadium. The win made Miles (4-6, 4-2 SIAC West) the SIAC Western Division winners and earned it a spot in the league championship game next week against Albany State.
Miles erased a 17-point deficit, the team’s largest comeback win since climbing from a 21-point hole against Fort Valley State in the 2016 Labor Day Golden Classic. It was also the second straight week that Tuskegee (5-5, 3-3) blew a double-digit, second-half lead. The Golden Bears had just 61 yards of total offense in the first half but held the Golden Tigers to just 56 yards of offense after they scored on the opening drive of the third quarter to open a 24-7 advantage with 10:36 left in the third quarter.
The comeback started on Miles’ next drive. On the third play, Smith connected with Malik Campbell for a 59-yard touchdown to give the Golden Bears their first offensive score of the contest. On Tuskegee’s ensuing drive, it took just two plays but Miles was back in the end zone. Jaylun Thomas popped Tuskegee running back Kenny Gant (162 rushing yards) and the ball came free. Linebacker Mitchell Smiley scooped the loose ball, weaved through some traffic, and scored on a 21-yard fumble return. Less than three minutes after trailing by 17, Miles was now down just 24-21.
On the Golden Bears’ next drive, they converted three third downs – including two to Tyree (four catches, 77 yards) that were longer than 10 yards – to keep the drive moving. Jackson Spradlin would nail a 24-yard field goal to tie the game with 13:46 remaining,
The defenses for both teams held serve until the Golden Tigers caught a break. A mishandled snap by punter Jake Anderson gave Tuskegee the ball at the Miles 12-yard line with a chance to put the Golden Bears in a tough hole. But the Miles defense held firm and allowed just a 37-yard field goal the gave the Golden Tigers a 27-24 lead with 5:23 left.
But if any team was capable of putting a late score on the board, it is this year’s Golden Bears. Miles got the ball and began to move up the field. The biggest play came as Miles was facing a 3rd-and-19 from its 36. There, Smith (241 yards passing) hit Tyree for 22 yards to move the chains. Four plays later, the two made touchdown magic for the ninth time this season to give the Golden Bears the lead for good.
Miles got off to a great start. LeAnthony Robinson returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Golden Bears a 7-0 lead. But Tuskegee quarterback Ahmad Deramus threw two second-quarter touchdown passes to Peyton Ramzy and Huskic Arnes made a 45-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to send the Golden Tigers into the half with a 17-7 lead. That advantage increased to 24-7 when Deramus scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down on Tuskegee’s opening drive of the second half.
Justin Hardy had a team-high 66 yards rushing, Montavious Tinch had four catches for 32 yards, and Kendrell Walker (nine tackles, two pass breakups), Austin Stephens (eight tackles, one tackle for loss) paced the defense for Miles.
Courtesy: Miles Athletics