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Rams' goal after loss to VSU: Move on, bounce back

ALBANY -- Disappointment.

It was etched on the faces of Albany State's football team as it stood on the field after Saturday night's 30-27 loss to Valdosta State and listened to the band play the Rams' alma mater.

Their eyes weren't as confident and their strides weren't as sure when they walked out of the locker room after their first regular-season defeat in more than a year.

The sixth-ranked Rams (2-1) were stunned, frustrated and at a loss for words. But the Rams never stopped fighting Saturday night, and don't expect them to stop now.

That's how ASU coach Mike White and his team plan to bounce back from the setback to 12th-ranked Valdosta State (3-0) -- by just going back to work.

"You just have to (bounce back)," White said after the game. "It's not a matter of how, we just do."

It was also the first regular-season loss for both first-year offensive coordinator Uyl Joyner and second-year quarterback Stanley Jennings in their current roles at ASU.

Joyner, whose offense came back from two 14-point deficits to eventually tie the game but gained just 40 yards in the fourth quarter, said the loss will make the Rams tougher.

"It's a loss, but we saw something in our guys. We saw them continue to fight no matter what," Joyner said. "I am happy with our guys, offensively and defensively. We fought, and we fought hard. We made the Ram proud. It was just a tough way to go out.

"There are some things I have to do better as a coordinator. I am going to go back and evaluate myself and evaluate the guys. We are going to come back (Sunday) and go right back to work. We are going to treat it just like we won."

Jennings, coming off a game where he threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns against Wingate, connected on just 17-of-36 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns and threw a game-ending interception.

Jennings said it was a loss that he and his team "needed" to get better.

"We gotta get better," Jennings said. "We gotta go watch film and learn from our mistakes. It's a loss that is going to make us learn from our mistakes. I think we needed that loss to better ourselves."

PUNTER DOWN UNDER: Luke Jones, ASU's newest kicker and punter, took the first snap of his football career with 8:37 left in the second quarter.

Jones, a former Australian Rules football player who joined the team from Adelaide, Australia, less than two weeks ago, had never played a football game in his life before arriving at ASU.

His first kick was a 42-yard punt that was returned by Quin Roberson. Roberson's return went for 34 yards.

Jones punted the ball four times with an average distance of 36 yards, while starting punter Ryan Latner, who kicked the first three punts of the game for ASU, averaged 34.7 yards per punt.

Overall, the two kickers averaged just 31.1 net yards per punt.

RUNNING GAME WOES: Last season, ASU runners Robert Welton, LiRonnie Davis and Kareem Hess combined for 1, 664 rushing yards, and the Rams galloped for more than 100 yards in each of the first two games this season.

However, the running game went nowhere on Saturday. Starting running back Nathan Hoyte ran for just 28 yards on 18 carries, while Darryl Carey, who started in the backfield the first two games, had 14 yards on four carries.

As a team, the Rams rushed for 57 yards and averaged 1.7 yards per carry.

SIDELINE ENERGY: Joyner started Saturday's game calling offensive plays from high atop the press box, but he didn't stay there long.

The Rams' first three offensive drives went nowhere and Joyner bolted for the sidelines, where he said he was able to motivate his players better.

With Joyner on the field, Jennings and the ASU offense immediately responded. After gaining just 15 yards on their first three possessions and falling behind 14-0, the Rams put together a 12-play, 34-yard drive that was capped off by a Hoyte two-yard rushing touchdown.

Joyner, who was on the field Sept. 3 against Savannah State but in the press box Sept. 10 against Wingate, stayed on the sideline for the rest of the game.

"I just wanted to get a little bit more energy into the guys. It's about trying to bring energy into the sidelines and get the guys going," Joyner said. "It worked for us (Saturday), and it's just something that happens. It might happen again before the season is over, though, I hope not. It's just something we may look at. I may go down to the field and send another coach up."

DEFENSIVE LEADERS: While the Rams surrendered 28 or more points for the third time this season, there were several individuals on the ASU defense that had good performances.

Linebacker Demonte Queen led the Rams with nine tackles, while lineman Antorio Wells forced and recovered a fumble. Defensive backs Rashad McRae and Gary Howard each had interceptions, and Howard had a game-high two pass break ups.

With Saturday's three take-aways against a Valdosta State team that hadn't turned the ball over in its first two games, the Rams have now forced eight turnovers this season.

NEXT UP: Albany State hits the road for the second time this season Saturday to face Miles College in their SIAC opener. Miles enters the game 1-2.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Fairfield, Ala.

Last season, Albany State routed Miles at home, 34-7, during homecoming.

Comments

The_Dude 3 years ago

From a VSU fan, Rams have a good team. We will meet again... in Valdosta. Go win the SIAC and we'll see you again in two months.

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