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Rams recall bittersweet '04 season

ASU offensive coordinator Uly Joyner remembers the last time Albany State beat Valdosta State. He was the quarterback of that team.

ASU offensive coordinator Uly Joyner remembers the last time Albany State beat Valdosta State. He was the quarterback of that team.

ALBANY -- Somewhere in Albany there's a game tape dated 11/27/04 collecting dust.

Nobody wants to touch it, especially not Uyl Joyner.

Joyner, the current Albany State offensive coordinator, is the only quarterback in Rams' history to beat Valdosta State. He and ASU dropped Valdosta State, 24-22, in the 2004 season-opener three months before the two teams met again in the Division II quarterfinals in Albany. The Rams, undefeated at the time, ran out to a 24-0 halftime lead and looked well on their way to the school's first semifinal playoff appearance.

Then came the second-half meltdown.

The Blazers scored 38 unanswered points in the final two quarters to win, 38-24, en route to its first D-II national title.

"There's a lot of folks that still talk about that game down here," Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. "I've never been a part of a game that changed like that one did."

It was Albany State's only loss of the season and one that still burns to this day.

"I'll never, ever pick up that film," Joyner said about the playoff loss. "I'll never watch it."

He glanced over at defensive backs coach Chris Henderson, who was the safety on the field for the first-ever win against Valdosta and the devastating playoff loss, and said, "I'm pretty sure Coach Henderson feels the same way I do."

"Just a sour taste," Henderson said of the memory from that game.

Albany State, ranked No. 6 in the AFCA Coaches' Poll, renews the series with No. 12 Valdosta State Saturday at home after a three-year hiatus in a huge top 25 non-conference matchup. Joyner would relish the chance to beat the Blazers as a coach to help further remove the sourness that remains from the 2004 loss.

"Was sick is not the right word," Joyner said. "I'm still sick. I try my best not to push it on these guys, but I'm still sick."

Rams' head coach Mike White joked this week that maybe having the only signal caller to beat the Blazers on staff will help ASU do it again.

"I sure hope it helps us," said White. "I don't know if it does at all, but I hope it does."

Joyner, though, believes he's got another quarterback that can do it again. Rams' senior Stanley Jennings, the 2010 Harlon Hill nominee, knows about the bittersweet '04 ride and what a win in this series would mean. Jennings was named SIAC and BoxtoRow National Player the Week after throwing for 307 yards and four touchdowns last weekend against Wingate.

"Stanley is going to erase everything we did over here," Joyner said. "I hope he erases it."

Dean recalls Joyner's proficiency with the ASU offense and sees it in Jennings when watching the Rams' 2011 offense on film.

"I remember Uyl being a good operator for what they did offensively," said Dean, who was the offensive coordinator for VSU in '04. "You can see now that he's doing a good job coaching the offense and their quarterbacks. With the tutelage that he's had and been in that system, I think that carries over and you can see he's doing a very good job."

Joyner, though, knows this game is another non-conference matchup just like the first two wins of the season over Savannah State and Wingate. He also knows none of the Rams have ever played in a game against Valdosta State.

"We don't want to put too much pressure on the guys," he said. "It's just like last week, another big game. None of these guys have ever lost to Valdosta. All of our guys are 0-0 against Valdosta and that's the only thing we're worried about is trying to be 1-0."

Joyner has beaten VSU and, of course, wants his offense to feel that feeling and finish the season in a better fashion than his '04 team did. The Rams OC did end up with a ring years after that season, one he's proud of, but he still wonders if he could have added another.

"You get where we are now and look back," Joyner said. "(2004) was a great year, but we didn't finish the way we wanted to. (I've) got a wedding band instead of a national championship ring."

Comments

Somebody 2 years, 11 months ago

Pretty sad that your one bittersweet moment was your one victory over VSU in 2004. What's the big deal? Some teams you play well against, other teams you don't. It happens! One's football career doesn't center around VSU, there are a lot of other games to be played.

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