They say football is a game of inches and those inches made a big difference Saturday afternoon as Miles College beat Albany State University 21-6 to win their second straight SIAC football championship. If those inches had gone Albany State’s way it could have been a different story. The Bears have now won four SIAC championships, compared to Albany State’s 15, but the Golden Rams have now lost in the SIAC championship game the last four times they have made it.
The game featured the two best defenses in the SIAC and defense dominated the first half with neither team getting anywhere near the end zone until the Bears scored with less than a minute left in the half. The Bears used a strong running game with a big bruising running, mainly freshman Donte Edwards from Mobile, Ala. And it was difficult for the “Dirty Blue” defense to handle Edwards – especially when it was only an inch or two.
Four times during the game the Miles offense was facing a fourth and short yardage situation, and all four times Edwards got those inches to move the ball ahead for the first down. Edwards never broke a run longer than 12 yards against the “Dirty Blue” defense, but he rushed for 110 yards on 26 carries and scored all three Miles’ touchdowns.
It wasn’t only those inches that killed the Rams chances. Gabriel Ballinas has been extremely effective all season when kicking extra points and field goals for the Golden Rams, but today a few inches made a big difference. His 33-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter hit the upright and bounced out and then his extra point kick went wide. Normally Ballanis is automatic with those kicks. Another thing with kicking and inches – Ballanis nailed a beautiful punt that looked like it would put the Bears inside the one-yard line, but it barely went over the goal line for a touchback and Miles got the ball at the 20 instead of inside the one.
In the fourth quarter the Rams had opportunities and the offense looked much more effective against the Bear defense than in earlier in the game. Quarterback Kelias Williams connected on some nice passes along with some effective runs, but those inches cost the Rams again when Williams had a wide-open receiver he barely missed. That play would have been an easy six points.
Williams did connect with redshirt Ralph Lovett for a 17-yard touchdown pass to finally get the Rams on the board in the fourth quarter.
The Miles defense slowed the big running game of the Golden Rams, holding the Rams to only 111 yards rushing while they racked up 229 yards on the ground. Williams led the Rams with 73 yards rushing, while seniors Mckinley Habersham and Tracy Scott were held to 26 and 22 yards, respectively.
The Albany State defense was led by Stephan Pierre with 12 tackles and an interception. Coemba Jones wrapped up 11 tackles and also picked off a Miles pass. Terry Compton and Tyler Scott each had nine tackles.
The loss ends the season for the Golden Rams at 7-4, just like last season. Miles (9-2) will now wait for the playoff announcements from the NCAA Sunday afternoon to see if they get to continue their season.