With SAU’s Homecoming right around the corner, nobody is more pumped and ready to go then the football team. Gaining their first win of the season on Oct. 12 against Livingstone College gave a big boost to the team. Even with the obstacles the team is facing, having the head coach terminated and interim head coaches Okesa Smith and Reginald Cooper take over, the Falcons still left everything on the field, winning the game 20-12.
The Falcons were on a five-game losing streak until the Livingstone victory. They lost to Winston_Salem State on Oct. 19, but bounced back Oct. 26, stunning division leader Fayeteville State when Andre Labat (Fr./Miami, FL) booted a 26-yard field goal with five seconds left.
That victory left SAU with a record of 2-3 CIAA Southern Division, 2-6 overall. Beating Livingstone, which has a 1-2 CIAA record and a 1-10 record against SAU in its last 11 meetings. But the 23-21 victory over F ayetteville State as a shocker given that the Broncos (4-1 Southern Division, 6-2 overall) are the two-time defending Southern Division champs. They entered the contest unbeaten in the conference.
The Falcons (2-3 Southern Division, 2-6 overall) outgained the Broncos in total yards (368-324) and had fewer turnovers (2 to 3) and penalties (5 to 11). Yet, the Falcons found themselves trailing 21-20 with 59 seconds left in the game after a Broncos’ touchdown on a three-yard pass play.
It appeared the Falcons’ stellar effort was all for naught. But D’Ontre Gillard (Fr./Holly Hill, SC) ran 17 yards to midfield and Aakiel Greer (Jr./Kosciusko, MS) leaped high for a 39-yard catch. All of a sudden, the Falcons were at the Broncos’ 10 and well within the range of Labat.
With five seconds left, Labat calmly kicked the game-winning field goal.
“The players came with a business mentality that allowed us to pull out the victory,” Smith said. “I am so proud of our guys. They remained confident even in a dire situation. It was fantastic execution by the team.”
Heading into the Homecoming game Nov. 2 against Johnson C. Smith University, the team is looking forward to continuing their turnaround. The Golden Bulls have an overall record of 2-4, only winning against Benedict College and Lincoln University (PA).
The Falcons are bringing in tactics they used from previous years playing against JCU. In an interview with The Falcon Forum, freshman cornerback Vaughan Covington discussed some strategies they can use to help strengthen their game.
“We threw the ball the majority of the game and took advantage of their weak DB’s and on defense we forced them to throw the ball,” said Covington.
The team will be facing two challenges, the opposing team and the fact that this will be SAU’s first Homecoming football game without a permanent head coach. But this will not dampen the team’s spirit, Covington said.
“It’s different but it’s going to get better the more we get used to it,” he said. “I expect us to play a sound football game and come out with a win.”
The game is at 1 p.m. in the George Williams Athletic Complex.
— Nia Phillips