By Donnell Suggs
The Morehouse College Maroon Tigers won their third game of the season on Saturday night, defeating visiting Kentucky State 31-21 in what could easily be described as a tale of two halves. Morehouse is now, more importantly, 3-1 in the SIAC, a cushion that head coach Rich Freeman, his staff and team will need as they prepare to play consecutive road games against Tuskegee University in Columbus, Georgia and at Albany State University.
En route to not allowing a point during the fourth quarter, the Morehouse defense forced three punts and a fumble to seal the win. With Morehouse ahead by only three points halfway through the period, Kentucky State would fumble a punt that would lead to a Maroon Tigers touchdown that sealed the deal.
Kentucky State had come to Atlanta on a two-game winning streak with wins over Kentucky Wesleyan and in their conference opener against Central State University (The two teams played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sat., September 23). The Thoroughbreds looked like a winning team, at least on offense, when they would end the first quarter tied at 14 with the Maroon Tigers. The Morehouse scores came on their first drive of the game -11 plays, 77 yards- that culminated with a Kivon Taylor touchdown pass on a screen to freshman running back Frank Bailey. Taylor would throw four touchdowns in the game while going 22-40 for 373 yards. Bailey would miss the entire second half with a sprained left ankle, but not before continuing his strong start to the season with 20 yards rushing and five receptions for 31 yards. Fellow freshman Amyr Smith (seven receptions for 72 yards) would score the second touchdown of the quarter for Morehouse on a 23-yard connection with Taylor.
Only three points were scored during the second quarter as both teams squandered good field position. Only Morehouse freshman kicker Fernando Sdelamora’s 37-yard field goal with 25.4 seconds remaining in the half kept the two teams apart.
That three-point advantage would not last long as Kentucky repeated Morehouse’s opening drive of the first half, this time going seven plays for 60 yards and with a lead-stealing 24-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Brett Sylve. The Thoroughbreds were ahead 21-17 and would not score again as Morehouse scored 14 unanswered points on touchdown passes from Taylor to sophomore receiver Ricci Nuckles in the third quarter and to sophomore Tremell Gooden with 4:16 remaining in the fourth. Gooden would finish with a team high 107 yards receiving (and three receptions) while Nuckles, who caught four passes, would close the game with 103 receiving yards.
Seniors Bundrea Conway and David Smith lead the way for the defense with 10 tackles each. Smith also intercepted a pass but he wasn’t the only Maroon Tiger to do that. Junior college transfer and New York native Kamari Jones-Hunter had a sack to go along with a tackle and his interception of a Kentucky State fleaflicker attempt.
Tuskegee is undefeated in conference play after defeating Lane College 28-23 on Saturday. The game between Morehouse and Tuskegee will be played at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. The stadium is named after the former Columbus mayor and civil rights leader who passed away at the age of 90 in 2002.