HBCU Weekend Roundup: Week Three

By Tony McClean
Updated: September 5, 2008

FAMU TubasNEW HAVEN, Ct. — Only three years removed from Hurricane Katrina, the people of the Gulf Coast have had to endure another catastrophe this past week in the form of Hurricane Gustav.

The storm and its aftermath has put several sports events on hold for this weekend for Louisiana and the surrounding states. However, it appears that all activities for the 10th John Merritt Classic in Nashville, Tennessee are moving full ahead.

The game, to be played at LP Field, will match two teams who opened their season’s last week in total difference ways.

For Tennessee State, they defeated Alabama A&M and won their first season opener under head coach James Webster, with a 34-13 win at Louis Crews Stadium.

Pete Richardson’s Southern Jaguars weren’t as fortunate. Houston quarterback Case Keenum riddled the SU defense with five touchdown passes to lead the Cougars to a convincing 55-3 win over Southern.

The Classic, which was first played in 1999, honors John A. Merritt, the legendary Tennessee State coach who led the Tigers from 1963 to 1983. During 21 seasons, “Big John” won four undisputed national championships among historically black colleges ranked by the Sheridan Poll, compiled a lifetime record of 172-33-1.

He also built a powerful program that produced NFL stars like Richard Dent, the late “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Claude Humphrey and many others.

The Tigers are 6-3 overall in the classic, with the last three losses all coming against Alabama A&M in the last three years. The game, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, can be heard on the Internet at www.classicsportsradio.com and clicking on the listen live link.



The defending HBCU national champs open their season at home against the Golden Bears. The Golden Tigers come into the game with a 16-game win-streak, having lost their last game on October 28, 2006. TU has won their last four meetings against Miles including last year’s 40-6 thrashing in the Labor Day Golden Classic. In their season opener last week, Miles lost to Stillman, 38-12, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.


After a season-opening win against Virginia State, the Spartans take on the Wildcats in UK’s home-opener. The Wildcats have won 10 straight non-conference games including last week’s 27-2 win against state rival Louisville.


This intrastate matchup between host South Carolina State and visiting Benedict will be the third meeting since 2004. The contest renews a series that was interrupted after the Bulldogs pulled out of the Palmetto Capital City Classic following the 2004 meeting at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. SCSU leads the series 25-8-0 and has won all four meetings since the Tigers revived their program.


The Pirates will travel to Carbondale, Ill. to face a team that went 12-2 last year and was one game away from playing for the NCAA Division I FCS Championship Game, but fell short against the Blue Hens of Delaware. The Salukis will be playing their first game of the 2008 season at home against HU. SIU will enter this weekend’s game with a new man in Dale Lennon as head coach.


The Golden Rams were firing on all cylinders in their 27-10 opening win last week against Shaw University.They racked up 198 yards of total offense and only gave up 133 yards to the Bears. QB Kissan Flakes led the ASU attack with 111 yards passing for 1 touchdown on 11-of -17 passing. He also rushed for 34 yards on 12 carries and another TD. The Dragons rallied from a 10-0 deficit and defeated Kentucky State 32-16. QB Sherard Ellis led the LC onslaught with 147 passing yards, 77 yards rushing and two scores.


The Braves are coming off a hard-fought 34-28 home loss to Southeastern La., spoiling the head coaching debut of Ernest Jones. The two teams battled to the game’s fi nal play as ASU had a chance to tie and perhaps win the game, but Tim Buckley’s pass to Channin Pugh fell incomplete. T he Tigers opened the 2008 season with a 49-13 road loss at Nevada. GSU trailed 28-0 in the third quarter before breaking through on the scoreboard.


The defending SWAC Champions fell in their season opener to Hampton, 17-13, in the 4th MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando. The Tigers started strong, scoring a touchdown on their fi rst possession of the season. However, JSU would be kept off the board until the fourth quarter. Stillman defeated Miles, 38-12, last Sunday night in Birmingham’s Legion Field.


Delaware State 35, Florida A&M 28 (OT): Quarterback Vashon Winton ran for four touchdowns, including a six-yarder for the game-winner in overtime, as host Delaware State edged Florida A&M in MEAC football action Thursday night at Dover. Taking the ball first in overtime, the Hornets needed only three plays to cover the 25 yards. Winton completed two passes for a total of 19 yards before taking the ball himself around left end for the touchdown.

The Hornets then clinched the game on FAMUs first offensive play in overtime when Delaware State’s Kerome Strums intercepted a pass by quarterback Curtis Pulley. It was Strums’ second interception of the night. The contest was the season opener for the Hornets (1-0, 1-0 MEAC), the defending conference champions, who went 8-0 in league play last season. The Rattlers fell to 0-1 in the MEAC, 1-1 overall.

Winton ran for 73 yards on 14 carries while also completing 21-of-33 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. Pulley was seeing his first action at FAMU after transferring from Kentucky in preseason. Splitting time with Eddie Battle on Thursday, he completed 3-of-6 passes for 57 yards and ran for a team-high 87 yards on seven carries.