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White: Rams have no regrets about failed key fourth-down play in loss

ASU head football coach Mike White

ASU head football coach Mike White

Rams RB Hess breaks leg, out for season

ALBANY — Running back Kareem Hess suffered a season-ending injury for the fourth straight year Saturday in a loss to Elizabeth City when he fractured his leg in the fourth quarter.

"Somebody ran into the back of his leg right in the end zone, so he is done for the year," ASU coach Mike White said. "That's disappointing, and that's four injuries he has had in four years."

Hess, who has rushed for just 11 yards on eight carries this season, saw limited action his freshman season but broke his finger attempting to catch a pass at the beginning of his sophomore year and was redshirted. His next two seasons were derailed with a pair of ACL injuries.

The Rams might also be without OL Hakeem Lassiter for the rest of the season. White said on Tuesday that team doctors are reluctant to medically release the team captain until he is completely healed from surgery to remove keloid from his ear. Lassiter, who had surgery in early August, started the season opener against North Greenville, but the ear was re-injured at the beginning of the game and he hasn't played since.

Jessie Atkins, who is the team's leading receiver with 12 receptions for 276 yards and two TDs, is questionable for Saturday's conference opener against Miles. The sophomore suffered a head injury against Elizabeth City and didn't practice Tuesday.

ALBANY — Albany State football coach Mike White has no regrets about not giving Zach Holley a chance to win Saturday’s game against Elizabeth City State.

Instead of sending Holley, the team’s freshman place kicker, out for a go-ahead field goal with 4:50 remaining in the game, White decided to run the ball on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

ASU running back Richard Watson was stuffed at the goal line, and Elizabeth City (N.C.) held on for the 13-12 victory, sending the Rams (1-2) below .500 for the first time in five seasons.

“I would do it again the same way if I had the choice,” White said after practice Tuesday. “If we had been backed up a yard or two, I would have easily kicked it. But being that close I thought we would push it in.”

The decision to forgo a field goal wasn’t just because White had confidence in his running game, it was also stemmed from the fact that he lost all faith in Holley, who had already missed a pair of PATs in the game.

“With us missing those two kicks, it was an easy (decision) for me,” White said.

Holley didn’t just lose out on a chance to win the game, but the Snellville native lost his starting job because of the misses. On Tuesday, White said freshman Dillan Fontaine will take over the team’s kicking duties.

“We are going to go with Dillan,” White said. “We will start him, and he will handle the bulk of the kicking duties.”

Holley pushed his first PAT attempt wide right in the second quarter after an 81-yard touchdown catch from Camilla native Jessie Atkins and then hooked his second PAT attempt wide left late in the third quarter.

“I got a little nervous,” Holley said Tuesday when asked about the misses. “All week we were talking about how they will overload one side and come for (the block). I took my steps, and I got a little nervous.”

Holley was confident he would have been able to redeem himself in the fourth quarter with a game-winning field goal.

“Even though the two misses were on the board, I was confident in my skill, my holder, my snapper and my team,” said Holley, who also missed a PAT on Sept. 8 in a loss to Wingate. “I was surprised (when we went for it on fourth down), but then again I knew the situation. I missed two PATs, so I can understand where coach was coming from. He really didn’t have that much confidence in me to go out. From a coaching standpoint I understand, but from a player’s standpoint you want to go out there and redeem yourself and win the game.”

OFFENSIVE WOES: Holley hasn’t had many opportunities to kick extra points this season for the Rams, who have scored just 21 combined points in their losses to Wingate and Elizabeth City.

It had been 12 years since ASU had last scored fewer than 14 points in back-to-back games, but quarterback David Kooi said it’s just a matter of time before the offense comes around.

“It’s surprising (we’re not getting in the end zone more than we are), knowing that we can put up points,” Kooi said. “We have the offense to do that. But we aren’t because of little mistakes that we are making. I believe in all these players to make plays, and they believe in me.

“We have to start clicking one of these games, and it will be very soon because we are inches away from it.”

Kooi joined the Rams as a transfer from Florida Atlantic about a month before the season opener and is still trying to get on the same page with his receivers. Through three games, Kooi has completed 39-of-83 passes and has thrown for 610 yards, four interceptions and two touchdowns.

ASU ranks outside of the Top 100 in Division II in every offensive category: 114th in rushing (100.67 yards per game), 102nd in passing (191 yards per game), 121st in total offense (291.67 yards per game) and 131st in scoring (15 points per game).

Starting running back Nathan Hoyte has been a bright spot for the stagnant Rams offense. The senior has rushed for 320 yards and three TDs and ranks 26th in the nation in Division II in yards per game (106.67).

White said a lot of the offensive woes can be attributed to a makeshift offensive line that is without injured star center Hakeem Lassiter.

“I think it all starts with the offensive line,” White said. “We have too many good backs not to have better production on the running game. The passing game, what you are seeing is a new quarterback and receivers still getting used to each other. You are seeing dropped balls and a combination of the timing being off. When you get into crunch time, the timing isn’t there.”


ALBANY — Running back Kareem Hess suffered a season-ending injury for the fourth straight year Saturday in a loss to Elizabeth City when he fractured his leg in the fourth quarter.

"Somebody ran into the back of his leg right in the end zone, so he is done for the year," ASU coach Mike White said. "That's disappointing, and that's four injuries he has had in four years."

Hess, who has rushed for just 11 yards on eight carries this season, saw limited action his freshman season but broke his finger attempting to catch a pass at the beginning of his sophomore year and was redshirted. His next two seasons were derailed with a pair of ACL injuries.

The Rams might also be without OL Hakeem Lassiter for the rest of the season. White said on Tuesday that team doctors are reluctant to medically release the team captain until he is completely healed from surgery to remove keloid from his ear. Lassiter, who had surgery in early August, started the season opener against North Greenville, but the ear was re-injured at the beginning of the game and he hasn't played since.

Jessie Atkins, who is the team's leading receiver with 12 receptions for 276 yards and two TDs, is questionable for Saturday's conference opener against Miles. The sophomore suffered a head injury against Elizabeth City and didn't practice Tuesday.

Comments

VSU 1 year, 7 months ago

As they say, You are a hero if you guess right and a goat if you guess wrong. If you go for the touchdown and fail, they say you should have tried the field goal, if you tried the field goal and your kicker misses, then they say you should have went for the touchdown. If only crystal balls worked.

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dmyers80 1 year, 7 months ago

If I have 2 kickers and one has missed 2 PATs.... I let the other kicker attempt the 18 yard field goal... But then again its really easy to be a monday morning QB!

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