The Roar Is Restored At Lincoln (Pa.)

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: August 31, 2008

WEST GROVE, Pa. — Before a packed crowd of 2,511 enthusiastic fans, history was made on Saturday afternoon as sleeping Historically Black College and University (HBCU) football giant Lincoln University (Pa.) awoke from it’s 48-year football slumber to post a 34-7 victory over George Mason.

Powered by a pep-talk from 97-year old former Lincoln University quarterback Frank “Tick” Coleman (class of ’35), the Lions “Restored the Roar” as they posted Lincoln’s first victory in football since a 34-13 loss to rival Howard way back in November of 1960.

The George Mason Patriots drew first blood when Akeem Smith took back an interception from Lincoln’s quarterback Kareem Dennis 15 yards for the game’s first score in the first couple minutes.

But after the miscue, Dennis rushed 1 yard for Lincoln’s first score and the Lions settled down by posting 34 unanswered points including a 21-point barrage before halftime while holding the Patriots scoreless the rest of the way (Lincoln forced three turnovers and collected three sacks).

Lincoln’s comeback was built upon big plays with none bigger than a 36-yard fumble recovery return by Aaron Coleman. The sophomore from Pittsburgh, PA scooped up the fumble and rumbled into the endzone giving the Lions a 13-6 lead that they never relinquished and energizing the standing room only crowd.

Right before the half, the victory was sealed when Dennis found senior Steven Rudd with a 14-yard pass in the corner of the endzone further the Lions lead to 27-7. On the play, Rudd boxed out the George Mason defender in Randy Moss style and jumped up for the pass for an alley-oop score.

For the game, Dennis a junior and multi-threat quarterback from Philadelphia’s Abraham Lincoln HS finished with respectable passing numbers of 19-37, 188 yards, 2 TD with 2 INTs.

The second half didn’t feature much scoring as Lincoln posted one late fourth quarter score on a Dwight Williams 25-yard score. Ironically William’s score gave the Lions 34 points, which was the same amount that Howard had scored on them back in the 1960 loss, but this time the point total was in their favor.

Lincoln finished with 418 yards in total offense while limiting George Mason to 63 yards. But the win on the field was only part of the victory that went much further as a school and community were out in full force to celebrate the distinct brand of HBCU football.

Cries of “L-U, Pride” and “1-8-5-4, the First HBCU for Sure” filled Avon Grove High School Stadium as the facility came alive with HBCU good tidings.

Orange and Blue clad students and alumni were everywhere, sorority sisters and fraternity brothers congregated as they sported their Greek letters, the Orange Crush marching band was blaring and dancing, and most importantly the prideful crowd supported their team from the beginning to the end.

With a scene like this you can only imagine what homecoming will be like.

Lincoln president Dr. Ivory V. Nelson said after the game regarding finally getting back on the field and all of the preparations. “The thing that struck everybody in the stands was how disciplined the team was and how they performed.”

“You couldn’t ask for a better performance from your student-athletes, coaches, and everybody who put this together. He added “We are elated and we feel great.”

To complete the invigorating day, I had to go New School /Old-School Lincoln style. I first spoke with eloquent Lincoln sophomore running back Myles Fleming who said of Lincoln returning to football for the first time in 48 years, “It’s really a blessing, Lincoln has a strong legacy in football and as an institution”.

He added, “It is great to just be back on the field again, To have pride in your school”. I then tracked down Frank “Tick” Coleman affectionately known as “Mr. Lincoln University” who wrapped a bow on the day by saying, “The win today was a great return to a tradition that was once one of the biggest in the country”.