Mobile, Ala. – After a 20-year hiatus, the 5th Quarter Classic proved to be worth the wait as the 13th-ranked Tuskegee University Golden Tigers scored with just over two minutes to play, coming from behind for a 20-17 victory over FCS-member Florida A&M University on a rainy Saturday night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Tuskegee (3-0) trailed for much of the second half, by as many as four with just 4:11 left to play in the game and Florida A&M (0-3) in possession of the ball. The Golden Tigers relied on a defense that forced a three-and-out for Florida A&M, forcing the Rattlers to punt.
The punt, off the foot of Colby Blanton, found its way to Ladarell Pettway at his own 40-yard line. The redshirt freshman weaved his way through defenders to the Florida A&M 33-yard line, and looked as though he was able to keep his knee off the ground and racing into the end zone. However, the officials say his knee touched and gave Tuskegee the ball at that spot and they didn’t waste any time.
Kevin Lacey took the first play from scrimmage, rolling to the right and finding his way to a first down with a 10-yard rush. He followed that up a strike to senior receiver Desmond Reece, the offensive MVP in the game, for a 23-yard touchdown down the seam with 2:21 to play in the contest. The touchdown and extra point gave Tuskegee a three-point lead at 20-17.
However, Florida A&M came back quickly as they moved the ball down the field on Tuskegee with time ticking away. After a long pass play was brought back due to a personal foul on the Rattlers, they needed a big play to keep the drive alive. Kenneth Coleman hit receiver Kevin Troutman, who was stripped by Tuskegee’s Darnell Hill. The ball was recovered Hill, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
As the clock ticked down on fourth down, Lacey knelt for the final play and the Tuskegee fan base charged the field as the Golden Tigers claimed victory over a FCS school.
Lacey finished 13-for-25, throwing for 137 yards and touchdown for the Golden Tigers, while Jayjerien Craig led the way on the ground with 62 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown for an offense that put 328 yards up on Florida A&M. Meanwhile, the Rattlers struggled on offense, held to just 169 yards of offense and their scoring drives all started inside the Tuskegee 30-yard line.
Tuskegee took an early lead in the game after a Florida A&M field goal went wide left, the Golden Tigers took the ensuing drive 60 yards in six plays – highlighted by a 44-yard run from Lacey on the first play from scrimmage. The Golden Tigers took a 3-0 lead when Dalton Hall connected on a 32-yard field goal with just over six minutes to play in the opening quarter.
The Golden Tigers extended the lead to six when they drove 65 yards in 10 plays, finishing off a drive with a 31-yard field with 1:49 to play in the first half. Florida A&M took their first lead of the game, at 7-6, when Coleman hit Brandon Norwood from 28-yards out on the first play from scrimmage after a miscue from the Golden Tigers with 6:01 remaining in the opening half.
Tuskegee went 65 yards in nine plays on their next possession to take a 13-7 lead with 2:29 remaining in the half. Craig took the handoff from Lacey, after a third down pass interference call gave Tuskegee a first down, racing around left end for the 19-yard touchdown.
Florida A&M scored on two possessions after inheriting the ball inside the Tuskegee 30 to take the 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for the final minutes.
Defensively, Quavon Taylor led Tuskegee with 10 tackles (all solo) and Osband Thompson with five. As a team, Tuskegee finished with 11 tackles for loss and one sack on the night, while Darius Holmes – the defensive MVP – finished with four tackles and two for loss from his defensive back position.
Tuskegee will play their first home game of the season against Lane College in an SAIC West Division showdown next weekend. The kicks off at 1 pm (cst) at Cleve L. Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium, and can be seen on the Tuskegee Digital Network.
Courtesy: Tuskegee Athletics