Chairman Calvin Smyre (left) presents Fort Valley State University Wildcats’ coach Donald Pittman (right center), President Larry E. Rivers (far right) and First Lady Betty Rivers (left center) with the Fountain City Classic trophy.
November 7, 2012 – The Fort Valley State University Wildcats and the Albany State University Golden Rams had more than just bragging rights on the line when they met in the 23rd annual Fountain City Classic on Saturday, November 3 in A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ga.
FVSU (8-2, 6-1) drowned their arch rival, ASU (6-4, 5-2) in a lopsided 38-20 victory, which gave the Wildcats the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference East Division title, and is sending them to the SIAC Championship which will be played next Saturday, Nov.10 at 8 p.m. in Atlanta’s Lakewood Stadium.
In addition to catapulting the Wildcats into the championship game, the win was extra special for FVSU Head Coach Donald Pittman, because it was his second win against his former team since taking over as Wildcats head coach in 2009. “It feels great to beat Albany State,” said Pittman. “The entire team has hung in with me through the tough times, and it just feels good to get this win.”
When it comes to tough times, the Wildcats did not have many during the Saturday afternoon matchup. FVSU pounced on the Golden Rams on the game’s first possession with a 70-yard drive for a touchdown. The opening drive was highlighted by quarterback Antonio Henton connecting with wide receivers Christopher Slaughter and Eric McCree. Slaughter’s 53-yard reception set up the 13-yard touchdown grab byMcCree. Slaughter’s catch gave the Peach County native over 1,000-yards receiving for the season.
“Coach considers me a big-time playmaker, so I just wanted to go out there and play well for my team,” said Slaughter.
With just 4:17 left in the first quarter, the Wildcats struck again. This time, Hentonconnected with receiver Rashad Tukes for his second touchdown catch of the season, putting FVSU up 14-0.
At the start of the second quarter, ASU tried to cut into the early deficit. Running back Richard Watson’s two-yard touchdown run with 14:54 remaining in the quarter provided a trickle of momentum but that leak would be quickly plugged when the Wildcat defense blocked the extra-point attempt and Tracey White returned it 98 yards for a Wildcat safety which expanded the FVSU lead to 16-6.
After the Golden Rams miscue, FVSU poured it on by scoring 19 unanswered points. Senior kicker Justin Rosenbaum nailed a 38-yard field goal later in the quarter, andHenton connected on his third touchdown pass of the game when he found Joshua Harris on a 14-yard touchdown reception to cap an 11-play, 66-yard drive to give the Wildcats a 26-6 halftime lead.
“We’ve had a big lead at halftime before, and we wanted to keep the pressure on them so we wouldn’t let them back in the game,” said Pittman.
After the intermission, running back Seth Hill continued the Wildcats’ downpour with a seven-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats’ defense continued to drench ASU after aRosenbaum punt landed within the Rams five-yard line. FVSU capitalized on ASU’s poor field position when it registered its second safety of the game and pushed the lead to 35-6.
In the fourth quarter, ASU went to running back Nathan Hoyte to try to keep their heads above water. Hoyte kept the Golden Rams afloat with two touchdowns. One was a nine-yard sprint, and the other was a one-yard plunge. However, the 35-20 deficit would be as close as the Golden Rams would get. FVSU answered with a 32-yard field goal byRosenbaum to cap the ASU comeback attempt and sealed the East Division Championship for the Wildcats.
During the post-game ceremony presentation, Henton was named offensive player of the game with 236-yards passing on 16 completions and three touchdowns. Slaughter contributed almost half to Henton’s total passing yards with a five-catch, 115-yard performance.
Linebacker Leron Furr won the defensive player of the game, finishing with seven tackles, one interception and a sack.
After late breaking news from the SIAC Office, the Wildcats now know who they will face in the conference title game on Nov. 10. They will meet the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee in a tussle for the conference crown after Tuskegee defeated prohibited favorite Miles College. It will be the second meeting of the season between the teams with Tuskegee winning the first. On Saturday at 8 p.m. the second matchup will be for the conference title and a chance to advance to the NCAA playoffs.
For ticket information for the SIAC Championship game, visit the FVSU Cashier’s Office, located on the second floor of the Cornelius V. Troup Administration Building or call (478) 825-6433.
Horace Holloman III, contributor
FVSU Office of Sports Information