NEW HAVEN (BASN) — This weekend begins the first phase of Championship Saturdays that will occur in Black College Football over the next few weeks of action.
While the race to next month’s Celebration Bowl in Atlanta is still being decided, the SIAC and CIAA will crown their champions on Saturday. We’ll also take a peek at the races in the MEAC and SWAC as they wind down.
But first, let’s start by taking a quick look at the title game tilts.
ONCE MORE WITH FEELING
For the second straight season, Winston-Salem State (8-2, 7-0) and Bowie State (7-3, 6-1) will meet for the CIAA Championship. In last year’s title game, the Rams overcame a 14-0 deficit and nipped the Bulldogs 17-14.
Will Johnson’s 23-yard field goal as the clock expired gave WSSU its third crown in five years. Similar to the year’s contest, Bowie State enters the game with the league’s best offense.
The Bulldogs flexed those offensive muscles more than once last week as they clinched the Northern Division crown with a convincing 56-7 thrashing of Elizabeth City State.
BSU’s attack is led by the CIAA’s Offensive Player of the Year, Amir Hall. The sophomore quarterback led the CIAA in several passing categories including completions (161) and attempts (259) and ranks second in yards per game (305.1).
He also threw at a 62.2% accuracy rate along with 2,136 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Hall was one of the many cogs of an offense that averaged a league-best 41.8 points per game and churned out over 500 yards per game.
As for the Rams, it’s been their defense that’s sustained them while adding another Southern Division for a sixth straight season. WSSU has allowed just 18.7 points and 313.4 yards per game, both second-best in the CIAA.
The contest will kick off at 2:00 p.m. ET at Salem Stadium in Salem, Virginia and will broadcast live via the ASPiRE TV Network. But that’s just the opening act of Championship Saturday.
THOROUGHBREDS, WILDCATS PLAY FOR SIAC CHAMPIONSHIP
When Kentucky State (4-6, 4-3) defeated Fort Valley State (4-6, 4-3) 26-10 at Wildcat Stadium just over a month ago, no one could have predicted that the contest would be the building blocks for a championship game rematch in Montgomery.
The win over Fort Valley was the start of a three-game winning streak for John L. Smith’s squad. The Western Division champs would also defeat defending league champion Miles College and hand Tuskegee their lone loss of the season along the way.
Among KSU’s standouts is freshman quarterback Jules St. Ge. The SIAC’s Freshman of The Year, the 6-1 freshman from Lakeland, Fla. started every SIAC contest this year and tallied 896 yards of total offense.
St. Ge has recorded six touchdowns and had his best game of the season against Fort Valley State where he completed 10-of-17 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, senior linebacker Travon Spencer made history by eclipsing the 100 tackle plateau, finishing the season with 103 wrap-ups. No Thorobred has reached the 100 tackle mark since the program started competing as a Division II institution.
The Wildcats would end the season on a three-game winning streak including a 21-17 win last week over Albany State in the Fountain City Classic to clinch the Eastern Division crown.
Fort Valley overcame a 17-0 deficit to win the game. Otis Brown’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Bodarius Johnson with 9:45 left in the game was the game-winner. It completed a five play, 56-yard drive.
A catalyst during FVSU’s winning streak after taking over from Damontray Jones in a loss to Florida Tech, Brown has taken snaps at under center (34 of 74, 5 TDs) while doubling as the team’s top receiver (23 catches, 7 TDs)
The game, scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. ET start at Cramton Stadium, can also be seen live on the ASPiRE Network while national radio coverage will be provided by the Heritage Sports Radio Network.
GOLDEN TIGERS GET EXTRA GAME
The Tuskegee University athletic department has announced that the Golden Tigers have reached an agreement to face Virginia State University on Saturday in the 10th game of the regular season for Tuskegee.
Tuskegee (8-1) and Virginia State (8-2) will meet at Cleve L. Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium at 12 noon ET on Saturday.
The Golden Tigers enter the contest ranked sixth in Super Region 2 and are in the midst of competing for a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive year in NCAA Division II.
Fort Valley State has won 12 SIAC football titles. What year did FVSU win its last SIAC crown?
North Carolina A&T (8-2) and North Carolina Central (7-3) are still undefeated (6-0) in conference play and continue to move towards their meeting next weekend in Durham for the MEAC title. Saturday, A&T is on the road at Delaware State (2 p.m.) while Central hosts Howard (2 p.m.).
It’s a three-team race in the Western Division, as Grambling State, Southern and Prairie View A&M all have a chance at the division crown. This week, that race may have a clearer picture, as Southern heads on the road to face Prairie View.
A win by the Jaguars would wipe out the Panthers’ chances for SWAC title. SU brings in a high-powered, bring an explosive offensive into Saturday’s 1:00 p.m. CT game, averaging more than 465 yards per game and averaging more than 38 points per contest.
The game can be seen live on the SWAC Digital Network.
In the East, Alcorn State and Jackson State are still deadlocked (3-4) atop the standings. Before they end the regular season against each other next weekend in Lorman, they’ll have to take care of business Saturday.
The Braves travel to Itta Bena to meet Mississippi Valley State (1-8) while JSU will host Alabama A&M (3-6)
In 1999, the Wildcats went 10-2 under Kent Schoolfield and were SIAC champions. In the Division II playoffs, Fort Valley would lose to Catawba in the first round.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.