Tuskegee scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to deliver a 35-17 win over Johnson C. Smith in the inaugural Inner City Classic at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
The newest Historically Black Colleges and Universities Classic on the block is the product of former NFL and CFL wide receiver Danny Buggs.
Trailing by 4 at the half, the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee needed a jolt of energy. University of Missouri transfer Derrick Washington provided that and more. Washington rushed for 130 of his 155 yards in the second half on 11 carries. “We had no intensity in the first half,” said Washington. “We kind of got away from the run game, but the second half we stuck to what was working and we started moving the ball scoring touchdowns.”
Defensively the Golden Tigers picked it up as well holding the Golden Bulls to 126 yards of offense and two turnovers in the final two quarters.
“We just had too many mental mistakes,” said backup Golden Bulls quarterback Andre Alexander. Alexander played the entire second half in place of injured starting quarterback sophomore Keahn Wallace. “We had a fumble and then an interception and then we had second and short – second and 4 and we had a false start,” said Alexander. “Seems like we just couldn’t establish a rhythm”.
The first fumble by the Golden Bulls special teams led to Washington and Tuskegee’s first touchdown of the game. Gene Moody’s punt sailed over the head of Dedrick Anderson where Tuskegee cornerback Adam Lucas alertly pounced on it at the Johnson C. Smith 5 yard line.
Tuskegee added another touchdown five minutes later on an 8 play – 83 yard drive. Justin Nared’s 58 yard pass to a streaking Ben Miller accounted for most of the yardage. Miller was dragged down out of bounds by defensive back Kerry Hartley at the JC Smith 16 yard line. Desmond Reece busted it in from 9 yards out to give the Golden Tigers a 13-10 lead.
The lead lasted all of three and a half minutes. JC Smith’s offense matched their counterparts, in the all black uniforms, with a 12 play, 76 yard drive to retake the lead 17-13. Wallace capped the drive with a perfect over the shoulder throw to Matthew Jeffries for a 35 yard touchdown.
Before leaving the game at the half with an unspecified leg injury, Wallace passed for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 of 17 passing.
"When you start adding those types of turnovers and not tackling like we should it can come back to haunt you," said JC Smith's fourth year head coach Steven Aycock.
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