Albany State took control of its destiny by defeating Morehouse 14-10 and winning the SIAC East Division.
The Maroon Tigers started the season dropping six straight but entered the contest on a three-game winning streak. Albany State started the day with only one loss courtesy of the undefeated and second-ranked Blazers of Valdosta State.
It took a quarter for either squad to change the readout on the scoreboard. A 10-yard run by sophomore running back Marcuis Fulks gave the Rams the ball at the M-Tigers 4-yard line and its first scoring opportunity of the day. The opportunity was squandered when the snap from center sailed over the head of quarterback Dionte Bonneau. Defensive tackle Marquis Deweert (#55) recovered the fumble for Morehouse.
Morehouse returned the turnover favor four plays later. Michael Sims’ pass intended for sophomore receiver Albert Connell was intercepted by defensive back Deshazio Williams at the Rams’ 30.
Miscues including a 10-yard sack kept the Rams from capitalizing on the turnover. On their next possession, Bonneau found Calvin Lewis, V along the sideline. The senior receiver picked up 22 yards on the play and set up the Rams’ first touchdown of the game. Two plays later, fellow receiver Javon Wooten ran a fade route to perfection and Bonneau dropped it in over his shoulder.
Ball-hawking defensive back Armani Maddox snagged his fourth interception of the season in the end zone to snuff out a late threat by the Rams just before the half. Maddox picked off Bonneau twice, the second interception set up the game’s dramatic finish.
The M-Tigers’ defense continued to play inspiring football. Defensive back Daniel Norman made a big play to give Morehouse the ball deep in Rams territory. Norman chased Bonneau from the pocket and slapped the ball out of his hands. The junior from Oakland, California beat Bonneau to the ball recovering it at the 2. Sims’ bullet to Strickland in the middle of the end zone evened the score.
Kam Ward put the Rams back in the lead with a 5-yard touchdown run at the top of the fourth quarter. The sophomore from nearby Powder Springs (Hiram HS) posted his first-century mark rushing game of the season with 106 yards on 19 carries.
Morehouse came right back driving the ball 59 yards to the Rams’ 16. Albany State shut the door to the end zone but Fernando Sdelamora split the uprights from 33 yards to close within 4.
Albany State only needed to run out the four minutes remaining on the clock. Instead of running the ball, Bonneau dropped back and fired a strike towards Tyree Taylor…but ended up in the waiting hands of Maddox at the Rams’ 46.
The M-Tigers made it as far as the Albany State 21 before the Rams’ defense closed the door.
Albany State finishes up the regular season with its annual rivalry game against Fort Valley State in the Fountain City Classic. A win could propel the eighth-ranked Rams into solid positioning for a playoff spot. Morehouse will look to win the battle of the AUC when they take on West End neighbor Clark Atlanta University. The Panthers dropped a 21-24 heartbreaker to Benedict College on Saturday.
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All images by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports