Tuskegee, AL – Edward Waters receiver Arsiah McCorker wrestled a hail mary pass from the arms of Tuskegee linebacker Malik Moore in mid-air with no time remaining on the clock to score the winning touchdown in the most unbelievable fashion.
“We told these kids at the beginning of the game that the message was You gotta believe,“ said Edward Waters Coach Toriano Morgan. “it was a moment where they could have had some despair and they could have checked out at 14-0 but they didn’t.
Playing in front of a sold-out homecoming crowd, Tuskegee’s first two touchdowns were scored in such dramatic fashion it appeared the after-party was the focus.
The Golden Tigers took the opening possession 60 yards on 4 plays. Christopher Roberson’s 38-yard pass to Corey Petty accounted for a large chunk. Running back Johnny Morris followed up a 14-yard run on his first carry with a four-yard burst into the end zone.
Tuskegee’s defense fed off that energy limiting the visiting Tigers to three plays and minus two yards. Of course, the shed was rocking.
A short punt gave the Golden Tigers a short 45-yard field to work with. Again it was Morris with the theatrics. The 190 lb sophomore hit a lick, and shed several arm ta
ckles as he sprinted 28 yards for a second touchdown. Morris finished the day with 66 yards on 13 carries. As a team, the Golden Tigers gained 178 yards but lost 44 yards on sacks.
It was a sack of Roberson by Ed Waters defensive lineman Jaren Wilson that gave the Tigers their first touchdown of the game. Wilson knocked the ball from Roberson during the sack and senior defensive lineman James Gary chased the bouncing pigskin into the end zone before diving on it.
Jonathan Gregory intercepted Roberson with less than a minute to play in the first quarter to return the ball to the Tigers’ offense. Alcorn State transfer quarterback Jyron Russell converted the interception into points in five snaps. After two completions and a 6-yard run from DeShaun Hugee, Russell ripped off a 36-yard dash to the end zone.
New Ball Game
Later in the quarter, Tuskegee was gifted another short field after Irving Friedman’s punt traveled a scant 25 yards before going out of bounds at midfield. Similar to their second possession, the Golden Tigers mounted another assault. Aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty on De’Angelo Sapp, the short field was made even shorter. Four plays later, Tuskegee was standing inside the 10-yard line. A second pass interference on the EWC defense gave the Golden Tigers a first down at the 2.
While the band stood behind the opposite end zone and the clock ticked below 1 minute to play, the touchdown that should have been never happened. Tigers senior linebacker Widmyer Garcon stopped Morris in the backfield for a 1-yard loss. Fellow linebacker Jonathan Nesbitt followed his teammates’ lead sacking Roberson for an 11-yard loss. First-and-goal at the two became fourth and goal from the 14 after an incomplete pass from Roberson. Tuskegee Head Coach Aaron James opted to salvage the drive sending kicker Lorcan Ryans in for a 31-yard field goal.
The seesaw scoring continued in the third as both teams scored in spectacular fashion. A short pass from Russell to freshman receiver Nathan Rembert turned into an 85-yard play. The 5’8 cheat code wore a towel with YAC (Yards After Catch) Boys printed on it. Rembert finished with 4 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. Well done sir.
Johntarrious Thomas capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge behind a big push from the o-line.
Tuskegee avoided falling behind by two scores thanks to a defensive offside penalty that nullified a 48-yard pick-six combo by Sapp with the lateral assist from Vashaun Stockman.
Roberson corrected his read of the defense error on the next play. The junior from McComb, MS dropped a 59-yard pass into the outstretched hands of Antonio Meeks like manna from heaven.
Edward Waters took their biggest lead of the game in the middle of the fourth quarter marching 99 yards down the field for one score and converting another Tuskegee turnover for a second touchdown in the span of 58 seconds.
The Tigers used a trick play to score the second touchdown. Receiver Yanez Rogers took the handoff right while Rembert stopped blocking and drifted behind the defense. The gloved Rogers floated the ball over the defense to Rembert for an easy touchdown.
Golden Tigers Claw Back
Once again it was the Roberson-Meeks show. Roberson found Meeks for a 45-yard catch and run to the Ed Waters 18. The duo repeated the pitch and catch for 11 yards on the next play. Roberson capped the drive three plays later with a 7 yard run to pay dirt.
Tuskegee’s defense forced the Tigers to punt the ball back to the offense with 2:21 to play.
It was enough time to score the touchdown they needed but would the Golden Tigers leave any time for Ed Waters to respond?
First things first, score
The Golden Tigers faced a fourth-and-nine with 35 seconds remaining. Convert or score? Roberson and Meeks to the rescue with a 17-yard catch to the 11-yard line. With 29 seconds left, Roberson went back to the air only this time he found Corey Petty waiting in space at the 5-yard line. The sophomore receiver eluded two defenders on his way into the end zone. Lead restored.
Edward Waters needed to move from their 35 to at least the TU 25 for a game-tying field goal attempt. Clearly, the Tigers had another idea. With just 20 seconds remaining, Rembert hauled in another pass from Russell, made a move, and scampered out of bounds in Tuskegee territory. With 10 seconds left, Russell launched a pass into the end zone but the Golden Tigers knocked it to the ground.
Everyone in Cleve Abbott Stadium knew what was coming next with 2.1 seconds on the clock. Tuskegee set up with two defenders deep and four more midway between the defensive line and the end zone.
There’s a saying in football, “Prevent defenses only prevent you from winning”. It held true as McCorker came down with Russell’s second Hail Mary and ignited pandemonium on the visitor’s sideline.
“I knew if I had enough time to throw it up and give my guys a chance they would make a play,” said Russell. “All I did was give those guys a chance. We didn’t lose faith. We knew as long as the clock didn’t have zeroes on it, it had 2 seconds on it, we knew we had a chance.”
Tuskegee Head Coach Aaron James acknowledged just what went wrong. “We have to do a better job at defending it (the ball) at the highest point,” said James. Catching the ball at its highest point would have made it difficult for McCorker to get his hands on it before coming back down.
All photos by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports