Albany State senior running back Nathan Hoyte, playing in his final Homecoming game, dives across the goal line for a touchdown Saturday during the Rams’ 36-9 rout of Clark Atlanta. Hoyte finished with 82 yards on the ground as Albany State won its fourth game in a row. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Albany State senior running back Nathan Hoyte, playing in his final Homecoming game, dives across the goal line for a touchdown Saturday during the Rams’ 36-9 rout of Clark Atlanta. Hoyte finished with 82 yards on the ground as Albany State won its fourth game in a row. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

ALBANY— It took awhile, but once the Albany State football team seized control of Saturday’s Homecoming game against Clark Atlanta, they never let go.

The Rams came back home from a three-game road trip in style and never let off the gas in the 36-9 victory.

Not even on the last play.

Junior defensive back Quintory Braswell put the exclamation point on a dominating Albany State performance with a 105-yard interception return for a touchdown as time expired, a play that is likely the longest in the history of the program.

“It had to be a record,” ASU coach Mike White said.

Nobody was catching Braswell, and it looks like nobody is catching the Rams, who have won four games in a row and are in control of their own destiny in the conference’s East Division with two weeks left in the regular season.

ASU (5-3, 4-1) had the game locked up long before Braswell picked off Clark Atlanta quarterback Charles King and broke free down the Rams’ sideline for the final touchdown, but that didn’t stop the backup defensive back.

Braswell didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line untouched by the Panthers.

“He’s tired. He said he was going to go lay down after the run,” senior defensive lineman Justin Blash joked. “I don’t know the history that deep, but I told him that was probably a record at Albany State.”

It took nearly 27 minutes for either team to score, but ASU kicker Dillan Fontaine finally broke the ice with a 38-yard field goal with 3:09 left in the first half.

After that, it was all ASU.

“Once we get going, it’s hard for us to stop,” Camilla native and ASU receiver Jessie Atkins said. “And we just got on a roll.”

The Rams scored once more before halftime on a 1-yard Nathan Hoyte run and then got in the end zone on their opening drive of the second half on a 1-yard run by quarterback David Kooi. Both touchdowns were set up by long catches inside the 10-yard line by Atkins, who led the Rams in receiving with six receptions for 67 yards.

Fontaine kicked two more field goals, and the Rams scored two more TDs to pull away for their most lopsided win of the season.

“We knew this was Homecoming, and to come out and not start off well was not a good sign for us,” White said. “We warned them before the game that we didn’t think they were ready. But I was glad we pulled it out.”

It was ASU’s 11th win in a row against the Panthers, who have lost five of their last six games and continue to struggle on the offensive side of the ball. They got a late touchdown on a Joshua Andrews 10-yard run in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to raise the Panthers’ average of 11 points per game, which was second to last in the nation entering the game.

Clark Atlanta coach Daryl McNeill said his team’s talent wasn’t the problem Saturday.

“They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves,” McNeill said. “They weren’t a better team than us (Saturday). (Albany State) isn’t that good of a football team. We have 42 players and 22 scholarships — you do the math. We out-coach anybody in this conference. We just don’t have the numbers to compete.”

While the Panthers (2-6, 2-4) are now statistically eliminated from the race for the East Division title, ASU is tied for the top spot with Fort Valley State, setting up a possible winner-take-all game between the rivals Nov. 3 in the Fountain City Classic.

The Rams have come a long way from the team that opened up conference play with a 41-6 loss to Miles and was mired in the program’s worst losing streak in a decade.

“We are playing way better,” Atkins said. “We have more chemistry as a team, and we are bonding together. The defense is coming together, and the offense is coming together. Things are really starting to click.”

After the sluggish first half, everything was clicking for the Rams.

Hoyte finished the game with 20 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown, while senior Richard Watson, who had 35 rushing yards on eight carries, got in the end zone in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run. Kooi was 16-for-25 for 160 yards and increased his streak of games without an interception to four. Fontaine was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, and Orion Ponder caught three passes for 41 yards.

Marcavius Dudley led the defense with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack, while Dexter Moody had his national-best seventh interception of the season, and Blash and Albany native Chavius Jackson recovered fumbles.

It was the first time this season Albany State’s defense had given up fewer than 10 points, but White said there was still room for improvement.

“We just have to play better,” White said. “I think we made some mistakes inside on the run game and allowed a couple of passes that we shouldn’t have allowed. We are working. We are glad we had a better second half than we played the first half. We still need to keep getting better for next week.”

ASU next plays again Saturday in Augusta against Benedict before closing out the regular season against Fort Valley State.

Comments

Covingtonian 1 year, 6 months ago

I find it hard to fathom a losing coach saying what Clark Atlanta coach Daryl McNeill said after the game “They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves, They weren’t a better team than us (Saturday). (Albany State) isn’t that good of a football team. We have 42 players and 22 scholarships — you do the math. We out-coach anybody in this conference. We just don’t have the numbers to compete.” Wow talk about a sore loser and the complete lack of sportsmanship, he not only takes a swipe at our players but the coaching staff as well. To be second to last in the nation in scoring says a lot about their coaching. Just take your ball and go home coach. By the way if you don't have the numbers to compete you should consider dropping football, DUH!

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dmyers80 1 year, 6 months ago

WOW!!!! OK you can say we beat ourselves if you lose by a touchdown, drop a pass that could have won the game, or make a penalty that sets up a touchdown that beats you... You CANNOT use the phrase "We beat ourselves" when you lose by 27!!!

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dmyers80 1 year, 6 months ago

Way to be modest coach..."We out-coach anybody"... Really how can a 2-6 coach have the audacity to bring attention to how good his coaching is?? And we dont have the numbers to compete?? its not like youre plaving a D1 school. ASU doesnt have many more than 42 players ans Im willing to bet they all arent on scholarship! In short coach "STOP WHINING"..with a statement like this Im sure he wont be coachong at Clark next year!!

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dmyers80 1 year, 6 months ago

One more thing.... With all of the offsides and pass interference penalties, COACHING is the last thing he should be bragging about, those things show discipline, which is a direct reflection of COACHING!!!

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coachjohnson42 1 year, 5 months ago

Yeah, Clark's coach might wanna re-think those words. ASU straight whooped their butts all up and down the field. ASU has always dominated Atlanta Colleges and Universities. They use schools from Atlanta as stepping stones for homecoming and they always come down here and get smashed. (Clark, Morehouse,) and in the 80's---Morris Brown....all got served.

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VSU 1 year, 5 months ago

Just like VSU dominates ASU everytime they play them. Right Coach?

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cspecial199 1 year, 5 months ago

albany state"s line on both sides of the ball is the sorriest group i ever seen.no. 96 hasn"t made a play or sack since the season started.when the ball snaps,he waits on the offense to get down and set before he does, the line stands straight up.the rams should be thankful they play in the SIAC which is the sorriest conference by far or they wouldn"t win a game.the linemen are out of shape, takes almost every oplay off and is just plain rotten.

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Covingtonian 1 year, 5 months ago

Why don't you tell us how you really feel Lol.. I do agree that 96 is played darn near to death, A couple weeks ago I asked if he didn't have a backup. The guy may have heart but he can't play every defensive down as they seem to want him to. ASU quite frankly has coaching issues but I don't like a losing opponent to bring it out.

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dmyers80 1 year, 5 months ago

Well cspecial.. I have to agree with about the offensive line... i just dont understand that with an offensive line with that many problems and young guys starting, why dont they cut block more, the qb takes way too many hits. as for the d-line, they dont get much pressure either, but 96 get double teamed a lot.

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