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ASU’s year ends with FCC loss; White denied #100

Fort Valley defensive end Christopher Spivey chases down Albany State backup quarterback Rodney Castlin, who came in for struggling starter David Kooi during the annual rivalry matchup at the Fountain City Classic in Columbus. The ASU offense sputtered in the 38-20, season-ending loss. (Kara Edgerson/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer).

Fort Valley defensive end Christopher Spivey chases down Albany State backup quarterback Rodney Castlin, who came in for struggling starter David Kooi during the annual rivalry matchup at the Fountain City Classic in Columbus. The ASU offense sputtered in the 38-20, season-ending loss. (Kara Edgerson/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer).

COLUMBUS — Fort Valley State took it all away from the Albany State football team Saturday afternoon.

An East Division title and an appearance in the conference championship game.

A ninth straight trip to the Division II playoffs.

The 100th career victory for ASU coach Mike White.

It all vanished in front of more than 20,000 fans at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium, where Fort Valley State won the 23rd annual Fountain City Classic, 38-20, to punch its ticket to the conference championship game next weekend and end the Rams’ season.

And it left White speechless.

“I did not see this coming,” said White, whose career record against FVSU — Albany State’s biggest rival — fell to 10-3. “This blindsided me. I don’t have a lot of words for what just happened. Guys who we usually count on who are pretty consistent ... it just wasn’t our game. Wasn’t our day.”

Saturday belonged to Fort Valley State quarterback Antonio Henton, the former Ohio State signee who torched the Rams (6-4, 5-2) for 236 yards and three touchdowns and completed 16 of 37 passes. Henton and the Wildcats (8-2,6-1) have now won five games in a row and advance to play West Division champion Tuskegee in Atlanta on Saturday.

“It feels great,” said Fort Valley coach Donald Pittman, whose Wildcats will be trying to win their first conference title since 1999. “ASU is a team that has been in some great games, and I can’t explain how good this feels. This builds our confidence, and it’s good for the program.”

Pittman, the ex-ASU assistant, said he didn’t talk to his former boss before or after the win about the stakes, but everybody knew what was on the line for White.

The long-time ASU head coach entered the game with a career record of 99-43 since taking over the Rams’ program in 2000.

Thousands of banners floated around the stadium with the words, “Go Coach White!!!” and “100th Win” printed in blue letters. The century mark will have to wait another season for the Augusta native.

“It would have been nice to give him that win, but coach White is going to get his win,” said ASU senior running back Nathan Hoyte, who finished the game with 38 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. “He didn’t get it (Saturday), but I’m sure he will get it at the start of next year.”

The Rams had won five games in a row after opening the season 1-3 just to put themselves in position for a possible postseason run. A win Saturday would have advanced them to a second straight conference championship game, and a win next weekend would have likely sent them to the playoffs for the ninth year in a row.

But now the Rams are going home earlier than they have in almost a decade with their worst winning percentage (.600) since 2001.

“It’s so disappointing that we never really showed up. The offense, defense and special teams never really showed up. We got behind early, and we knew we really couldn’t do that,” White said. “I feel bad for the seniors. I just think it’s a tough way to go out, not playing as well as we did. We had some distractions this week, but I did not see this coming.”

Hoyte, who finished his final season with 917 yards and 10 touchdowns, was still coming to grips with the end of his college career as he walked off the field.

“Game over. I’m just going back to the locker room to change my clothes,” Hoyte said. “It’s going to sink in more as time goes on, but I was aware it would be my last game if we lost. So I was kind of prepared for whenever that loss came.”

It all started to unravel for the Rams early in Saturday’s contest. The Wildcats scored on four of their first five possessions, including two first-quarter touchdown passes from Henton to Eric McCree and Rashad Tukes.

Rams senior running back Richard Watson found the end zone at the beginning of the second quarter on a 2-yard rush, but Fort Valley blocked the extra point attempt, ran it back for a two-point conversion and then scored 21 unanswered points to put the game away.

All three Fort Valley touchdowns in the first half came on third-and-longs when Henton was able to buy time in the pocket and find an open receiver.

“That got us, the third-down conversions got us,” ASU senior defensive end Justin Blash said. “We don’t have an excuse. They just converted on us.”

The Rams trailed, 35-6, with nine minutes left in the game and were in danger of their worst loss to Fort Valley in the 68-year history of the rivalry, but two Hoyte rushing TDs in less than four minutes and an onside kick recover by Dexter Moody brought ASU to within two possessions with 5:48 remaining.

After forcing a Fort Valley three-and-out, ASU backup quarterback Rodney Castlin threw one of his three interceptions with 2:58 left in the game, ending any hope the Rams had of a miracle comeback.

Castlin played the end of the second quarter and the entire second half after starter David Kooi got benched for starting the game 2-for-10 with 43 yards and an interception. Castlin didn’t fare much better under center, completing 8 of 26 passes for 128 yards and turning the ball over four times.

“It’s tough,” Kooi said. “It’s tough to have your last outing be like that. We didn’t get it done, that’s what it comes down to.”

Kooi, the Division I transfer from FAU who finished the season with six TDs and six interceptions, said he was surprised to not see any snaps after halftime.

“I expected to go back in, but it was (offensive coordinator Uyl Joyner’s) decision and I didn’t,” Kooi said. “At that point you just have to pump your team up and try to get everyone else into it. Everything is way beyond me. It’s not just about me. It’s about the team. It was coach’s decision to take me out, and I just had to respect it and try to get everybody else ready. And make sure (Castlin) sees some stuff and help him make reads that maybe he didn’t see.”

Fort Valley star receiver Christopher Slaughter had his moments and caught five passes for a game-high 115 yards, but the senior with NFL talent was held out of the end zone for just the fourth time this season.

Moody, who plays strong safety, got beat once on a deep pass, but most of the time Slaughter and his fellow receivers did their damage against the Rams’ linebackers

“Nobody underestimated these guys,” Moody said. “We came out, and we knew it was going to be a battle from the first whistle to the end of the game. But (FVSU) came out with more fight and more will to win.”

White said an ASU win would have vindicated a season that looked bleak after three straight losses in September.

“I thought with a win today we could have called this a pretty successful season to get back to the conference championship game,” White said. “But right now, finishing the way we did, this season doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.”

Comments

Covingtonian 1 year, 5 months ago

A fan sitting next to me had this to say "Kooi wasn't good enough to start in Div I so that tells me he isn't that great a quarterback", maybe not for div I but he had enough promise to QB in div I albeit as a backup and in my opinion had a big enough arm to be Albanys starter. The problem with being a pocket passer for ASU is the offensive line doesn't give the qb time to setup and look for open recievers down field. That's where quality and innovative coaching comes in to play. ASU needs to look outside of former players to coach and look for some football minds that can recruit and use the talent they put on the field. The coaching staff lost at least one game early in the season when they didn't replace the kicker soon enough and lost a game by going for short yardage when a field goal could've given them a win. How many Linemen did we start the season with? Someone needs to ask the tough questions. And coach white's comment that he was blind sided by the loss, 'come on man"! If you would turn and watch the game as it is being played you would have saw this coming a long time ago.

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dominiquedamac 1 year, 5 months ago

You don't know football because Kooi had times where he could throw passes to wide receivers but he missed them! It don't matter if he was in Div 1 because if he was good enough, he would never left FAU. ASU sucks and that is all. Fire the whole coaching staff! Coach White hasn't done nothing outside of black college football. He has won only two playoff games in his whole head coaching career and that is sad.

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dmyers80 1 year, 5 months ago

To me it looked like the QB had the Aron Brooks syndrome... One game he looks like an all pro QB... the next game you're wondering why is he even on the team!! We lost 2 All-Conference offensive linemen before the season started, one to injury and one to acedemics. As far as coach White not doing anything outside of black college football... He has turned down several D1 offers over the years ( I know this personally) and if you look at the stats... His defense is in the top 10 or 15 in the nation every year. The man is a defensive genius... And he took ASU deeper in the D2 playoffs than any other HBCU in history... Now offensively there needs to be a change, the offensive coordinator cant call 35 to 40 pass plays a game when your QB cant hit the side of a barn... But in the QB's defense yo o-line had him running for his life for most of the season!! I went to all of the home games this season, against Clark Atlanta, there might have been 5 times the entire game where he didnt get hit!!

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dominiquedamac 1 year, 5 months ago

He still didn't win when it matters! Btw, WSSU had played in the semifinals last year. WSSU went further than any HBCU. They has won more playoff games in one season than ASU has won in their whole football history. ASU sucks just like every other HBCU's team. You know and I know it...the end!

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TRUTH101 1 year, 5 months ago

This is not true...WSSU went further than ASU (by one game) has in one year but does not have more total playoff wins than ASU

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dominiquedamac 1 year, 5 months ago

ASU has won 3 playoff games(1997,2004, and 2010) in their whole football history. WSSU had won 3 playoff games last year. ASU ans WSSU has the same amount of all time playoff wins. WSSU won that amount in one season. LOL! ASU sucks!

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dmyers80 1 year, 5 months ago

ASU played in a semi final... that was the year they lost to VSU 2004

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dominiquedamac 1 year, 5 months ago

For you to be an alum, you don't know what the hell you are talking about. ASU had lost to VSU in the quarterfinals. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=1920965 ASU has won 3 playoff games in their whole football history and they all won them games in the second round because they had a first round bye because they went undeafeated. ASU sucks....the end!

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rorschach 1 year, 5 months ago

At the end of the season in each division ther will be only one team left. To be that team you have to be very good and some times even a little lucky as well. ASU may never be the last team standing but they have proven over the years that they are one of the top teams in their division. Coach White has done a great job as ASU's head coach. I look for them to start another playoff run next year.

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dominiquedamac 1 year, 5 months ago

Playoff run? You act like ASU wins playoff games every year! ASU just participates in the playoffs but they don't win! ASU has won only two games in the playoffs under Coach White. Black College Football is weak . Why do you think the same teams has winning records all the time? There is no consistent competition in black college. ASU is a top dog in the SIAC but they are one of the worst in the Division 2 playoffs. Coach White has done a good job in black college football but he hasn't done anything in the playoffs. Please sit down until ASU wins another playoff game.

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countryque 1 year, 5 months ago

Ok it looks like some people don't know their history, so here's a quick lesson. FAMU won the 1978 D-1 AA National Championship (now known as FCS) and tied to win the 1962 Division II National Championship. Also in 1973 Tennessee St. won the Division II National Championship. Now last year WSSU made it to the D2 semi-finals last year. Ok now that the lesson is over, I can drop some opinionated facts. Coach White is a very good DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR, NOT a head coach. Coach white doesn't do the small things to move the program to the next level. For example, there is No Mike White radio, internet or tv show. ASU has a mass comm department that could edit and produce the show. The airing of these show would give the football program and the university MUCH need publicity and advertising. Students do this at other D2 AND smaller D1 schools. What is new with the program besides the opening of the stadium in 2004? NOTHING. The football facilities (weight room/locker room) look worst than some middle schools.You may say to yourself "that's a job for the AD". well folks when your program brings in over 50 percent of the athletic budget...You can "DEMAND up grades". Finally, 38-24 in 2004 Playoffs, 66-35 in 2007 playoffs, 28-7 in 2010 playoffs, 63-14 in 2011 playoffs, 41-6 in 2012 home lost, these are just a few of the worst loses in his 13 years at ASU. If ASU moved to the Gulf South, we(cause I am a ram) would be .500 or 6-4 every year. Im sick of getting my hopes up and sayin this is the year we become like the FAMU's and TSU's of the world, only to lose in the 1st round.

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