ASU receiver Octavius Staton makes a catch against wingate on Saturday. On Monday, the Rams, who beat Wingate, 49-28, moved up to No. 6 in the Division II poll.
ALBANY --- Albany State's steady climb up the Division II rankings continued Monday as the Rams moved up one spot to No. 6 in the AFCS Top 25 Coaches' Poll.
The Rams (2-0) started the season tied for ninth in the weekly poll but have moved up the last two weeks with wins against Division I Savannah State in Week 1 and then-No. 23 Wingate (N.C.) in Week 2.
Saturday's 49-28 home-opening win against Wingate wasn't even as close as the score indicated, and ASU coach Mike White and several of his players called the victory a "statement game."
ASU took apart a Wingate team that lost in double overtime to No. 12 Valdosta State on opening weekend, setting up a matchup between ASU and Valdosta State that will surely have the ASU Coliseum rocking Saturday night.
Valdosta State, a program White is just 1-8 against in the past 10 years, started the season ranked 20th in the AFCA poll but has moved up each of the last two weeks.
Minnesota-Duluth received 27 of the 29 first-place votes and remains the No. 1 team in the poll, which was released Monday. The rest of the Top 5, in order, are: Northwest Missouri St., Abilene Christian (Texas), North Alabama and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Grand Valley State fell out of the Top 5 and to No. 15 after a loss to unranked Hillsdale (Mich.), while Wingate dropped completely out of the poll.
WHO: No. 12 Valdosta State (2-0) at No. 6 Albany State (2-0).
WHAT: Huge rivalry, D-II Top 25 showdown.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.
RADIO: 98.1 FM.
LIVE UPDATES: Log on and follow the game at: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports
The Rams also moved up one spot to No. 5 in the 2011 Boxtorow HBCU Football Media Top 10 Poll, which ranks the top Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation.
The Rams were the SBN Black College National Champions last year, but sit behind unanimous No. 1 South Carolina State (1-1), No. 2 Jackson State (2-0), No. 3 Bethune-Cookman (1-1) and No. 4 Hampton (2-0) in the weekly media poll.
TUBBS SHINES: In a game full of offensive stars, Ronnie Tubbs shined brightest Saturday night against Wingate.
Tubbs caught six passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Stanley Jennings, who said there was only "more to come" from his junior receiver. All of Tubbs' touchdowns and 87 of his yards came in the second half.
"I feel like this was one of my better games, because I had a bad game last week," said Tubbs, referring to the season opener against Savannah State when he had just three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. "I feel like I made a statement this game."
Tubbs' performance surprised Wingate coach Joe Reich, who said he expected the Rams to come out running the ball.
"Their wideouts are good, probably better than what we thought," Reich said. "They did a great job just going up and playing the ball."
Tubbs' finest catch came three minutes into the fourth quarter on a third-and-24 near midfield when Jennings heaved a pass toward the end zone. The throw came up nearly 10 yards short, but Tubbs came back to the ball and made the catch in the middle of several Wingate defenders. Tubbs then turned up field and scored the 53-yard touchdown to give his team a 40-14 lead.
"The only thing going through my head on that play was my receivers coach telling me to attack the ball when it is short," said Tubbs, a Yazoo City, Miss., native who played football at Holmes Community College in 2007 and 2008 before taking two years off and then signing with Albany State.
Tubbs was one of the top receivers in Mississippi as a high schooler and originally signed with the University of Houston --- just one of several Division I programs that gave offers to the 6-foot-3 wideout.
However, because he was unable to meet freshman entrance requirements, Tubbs played two years at Holmes.
FIRST-HALF DOMINANCE: Nothing has been able to stop the Rams in the first 30 minutes of their two games this season.
Albany State outscored Savannah State and Wingate a combined 39-3 in the first halves, while the Rams' opponents have a 59-47 advantage in the second halves.
In the opening half of their season opener against Savannah State, the Rams outscored the Tigers, 19-3, and outgained them 221-145.
In the first 30 minutes against Wingate, Albany State had the upper hand in score (20-0), yards gained (220-124), time of possession (17:11-12:49) and first downs (11-9).
JENNINGS WINS SIAC PLAYER OF WEEK: Jennings was named the SIAC Player of the Week on Monday, the first time the senior has earned the award this year after winning it multiple times in 2010.
Jennings amassed 307 passing yards, completing 17 of 30 passes with a long of 53 yards, including four touchdown passes to lead the No. 6 Rams to a 49-28 win against then-No. 23 Wingate. He led the Golden Rams to 427 total offense yards.
But Jennings wasn't alone in picking up honors from the SIAC.
Tubbs was named Newcomer of the Week, while the Rams' Darvel Nelson was named Offensive Lineman of the Week. Nelson, of Franklin, anchored the ASU offensive line, which allowed the offense to produce 427 total yards, including 307 passing yards on 74 total plays. The ASU offense averaged 5.8 yards per play.
Honorable mentions went to former Monroe star Larry Whitfield in the defensive backfield. Whitfield led the "Dirty Blue" defense with nine tackles, including four solo, and a sack.
VOTE JENNINGS FOR NATIONAL PLAYER OF WEEK: Jennings was announced Monday as a nominee for the national football fan poll award, presented by The Heritage Sports Radio Network. Jennings was selected as one of four nominees for HSRN's Division II National Player of the Week award for his stellar performance against Wingate at the ASU Coliseum.
HSRN honors the top-performances on the gridiron for Division I FCS and Div. II each week. To add to the excitement, fans across the country can be a part of the action by casting votes for the player they think had the top performance in HBCU football. Fans can cast their votes for Jennings by visiting www.HSRN.com. Voting will be available on the HSRN.com home page and click on "Fan Poll" until Wednesday at noon.
In addition to the Albany State star quarterback, other Division II nominees this week are Kameron Smith, quarterback at Winston Salem State University, Carlos Ross, a running back at Langston University and Cade Berryman, a kicker at Kentucky State University.