DURHAM, N.C. (Nov. 4) – Saint Augustine’s University capped the football regular season with a 31-14 victory over crosstown rival Shaw University at Durham CountyMemorial Stadium on Saturday to claim the Raleigh Classic Trophy and earn a share of the CIAA Southern Division crown.
The Falcons (5-5 overall) tied Fayetteville State University for first place in the division at 5-2, but the Broncos won their head-to-head matchup on Oct. 21 to reach the CIAA Championship Game. The season was still a success for the Falcons, who won a division title for the first time in recent memory after winning a combined three games in the previous two years. They also finished .500 or better overall for the first time since 2012.
After posting a 1-4 record in their first five games, the Falcons gelled against their last five opponents in posting a 4-1 mark. They were especially dominant in their last two contests including Saturday’s matchup against the Bears (2-5 CIAA, 3-7 overall), who were looking to derail the title hopes of their biggest rival on Homecoming Day. The Falcons had other ideas, however.
Coming off a 24-0 Homecoming win over Johnson C. Smith University last weekend, the Falcons continued their dominant play against the Bears. On the opening possession, the Falcons scored on a one-yard run by Demetrius Lewis (R-Fr./Columbia, SC) to finish a 15-play, 78-yard drive. Sean Smith (Jr./Valdosta, GA) kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead. Lewis subbed for starting quarterback Darryl “D.J.” Johnson, who was injured on the first drive.
The Bears tied the score in the second quarter but the Falcons re-took the lead 14-7 right before halftime. Sam Boyd (Sr./St. Petersburg, FL) caught a 13-yard pass from Lewis for a touchdown and Smith booted the extra point.
The game turned in the Falcons’ favor in the third quarter. Capitalizing off two fumbles on the Bears’ first two drives, the Falcons scored 10 points to push their lead to 24-7. Anthony Gaskins (Sr./Greenville, NC) forced the first fumble which Justin Shaw (Sr./Durham, NC) scooped up for a two-yard touchdown. Smith kicked the point-after-attempt for a 14-point Falcons’ lead, and he later added a 20-yard field goal after Shaw recovered another fumble.
Jeremiah Miller (So./Miami, FL), who rushed for a game-high 142 yards, padded the Falcons’ lead when he scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Smith added the extra point.
The Bears scored their second touchdown, but the Falcons salted the game away for their third victory in their last four games against the Bears.
The celebration started in the final seconds when the players dumped a cooler full of water on Head Coach Tim Chavous – a la the traditional Gatorade bath. Minutes after the game ended, SAU President Dr. Everett B. Ward received the Raleigh Classic Trophy from Shaw Athletic Director Dr. Al Carter as the football team cheered. The players showed off the trophy to their fans who traveled to support the Falcons. This is the second year the trophy was handed to the winning team.
Miller was one of several players who keyed the Falcons’ victory. Boyd caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown and Gaskins tallied seven tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Gaskins is a defensive back who was an All-CIAA basketball standout last season.
Linebacker James Hickman (Sr./Antioch, CA) and defensive lineman Chasz Cosby (Sr./Charlotte, NC) both had five tackles and two tackles for loss, and Cosby added one sack. Demonte Hines (Fr./Washington, DC) blocked two field goal attempts and Jake Ford (R-Fr./Victoria, Australia) averaged 43.5 yards per punt.
Both teams gained under 300 offensive yards but the Falcons committed one penalty while the Bears were flagged for 11 infractions. The Bears also fumbled twice.
The Falcons closed out the regular season with two straight victories by a combined score of 55-14. They just missed making the CIAA Title Game when Winston-Salem State missed a last-second field goal against Fayetteville State but it does not overshadow their best season in recent years.
— Office of Sports Information