By Donald Hunt
Special To The Birmingham Times
Tuskegee University will face Alabama A&M, the No. 1 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) football team in the country on Saturday, Sept. 25 in Gulf Coast Challenge at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL. The kickoff will be at 4 p.m.
This will be quite a challenge for Tuskegee University (1-2) in this non-conference matchup. Alabama A&M (2-0), the top ranked team, according to the Boxtorow HBCU Football Coaches and Media Polls, is riding an eight-game winning streak that goes back to the spring season. The Bulldogs are loaded with talent with Aqeel Glass who is one of the top quarterbacks on any level of college football. Glass has completed 50-of-64 passes for 660 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Add to the Bulldogs passing attack a terrific ground game led by running back Gary Quarles who was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Player of the Week. Quarles had 27 carries for 101 yards while catching three passes for 46 yards to help A&M edge Bethune-Cookman, 30-27.
The running game could be a factor in this contest particularly for Tuskegee University. The Golden Tigers may want to control the tempo by running the football. Tuskegee’s leading rusher is running back Ivonte Patterson who has 197 yards on 44 carries and three TDs this season. Patterson had a career day in the 23-6 win over Edward Waters gaining 156 yards on 30 carries.
The Golden Tigers’ running game could open up the passing game for some occasional strikes down the field from wide receivers Steven Hodges and Keynon Webb who was just named the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Newcomer of the Week.
This contest should attract a lot of attention from HBCU fans in the state with the high-profile Alabama A&M Bulldogs in town.
In other action in the SWAC, Alabama State (1-1) will host Bethune-Cookman (0-3) on Saturday to open conference play. The kickoff will be at 5 p.m. This will begin a stretch of eight consecutive games against SWAC opponents.
The Hornets will be looking for their first conference win. Offensively, Alabama State running back Ezra Gray averages 6.7 yards a carry. Gray is the team’s leading rusher with 67 yards on 10 carries. On defense, cornerback Irshaad Davis is the Hornets’ leading tackler with 13 total and eight solo stops.
In the SIAC, Miles College (1-2) will entertain Central State (1-2) at 6 p.m. The Golden Bears should benefit from playing at home during this three-game stretch.
Miles College quarterback Claude Newell has been playing some great football connecting on 25-of-42 passes for 447 yards with five TDs and no interceptions.
Linebacker Mitchell Smiley continues to be one of the best defensive players in the conference amassing 22 total and 14 solo tackles this season. He was also named the SIAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Newell and Smiley should be key players in this matchup.
Alabama A&M 1-0 2-0
Jackson State 1-0 2-1
Alabama State 0-0 1-1
Mississippi Valley State 0-0 0-2
Florida A&M 0-1 1-2
Bethune-Cookman 0-1 0-3
Prairie View A&M 1-0 2-1
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 0-0 1-1
Alcorn State 0-0 1-2
Southern 0-0 1-2
Grambling State 0-0 1-2
Texas Southern 0-1 0-2
SWAC Schedule (Sept. 25)
Delta State at Jackson State 2 p.m. Jackson, Miss.
Alabama A&M at Tuskegee University 4 p.m. Mobile, Ala.
Grambling State at Prairie View A&M 4 p.m. Dallas, Texas
Bethune-Cookman at Alabama State 5 p.m. Montgomery, Ala.
Texas Southern at Rice 5:30 p.m. Houston, Texas
Sunday, Sept. 26
Southern at Mississippi Valley State 2 p.m. Itta Bena, Miss.
Savannah State 1-0 2-1
Albany State 0-0 2-1
Clark Atlanta 0-1 1-2
Fort Valley State 0-0 1-2
Morehouse 0-0 0-3
Benedict 0-1 2-1
Kentucky State 1-0 1-2
Lane 1-0 2-1
Miles College 0-0 1-2
Tuskegee University 0-0 1-2
Central State 0-1 1-2
Allen University 0-0 2-1
Edward Waters 0-0 1-2
SIAC Schedule (Sept. 25)
Fort Valley State at Allen University 6 p.m. Columbia, SC
Benedict at Kentucky State 3 p.m. Indianapolis, Ind
Alabama A&M at Tuskegee University 5 p.m. Mobile, Ala.
Morehouse at Savannah State 6 p.m. Savannah, Ga.
Central State at Miles College 6 p.m. Fairfield, Ala.
Lane at Edward Waters 7 p.m. Jacksonville, Fla.