by Stan McCormick, M. Ed, Director of Sports Information
Junior wide receiver Jessie Atkins caught 11 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, but the North Greenville Crusaders hit a 31-yard field goal with 42 second left to hand the Albany State Golden Rams a 26-24 loss in the season opener for both teams. With the loss, ASU is 0-1 heading into SIAC conference play next week.
The Golden Rams did not get off to a good start, trailing 0-3 after a North Greenville 37-yard field goal in the first quarter. NGU added a 4-yard touchdown pass to take a 9-0 lead with 11:46 remaining before halftime.
ASU kicker Zachary Gayden-Holley finally got the Golden Rams on the board with a 39-yard field goal at the 2:32 mark of the second quarter to cut ASU’s deficit to 0-3. After a solid stand by Albany State’s “Dirty Blue” Defense, Gayden-Holley connected on a 37-yard field goal to bring the Golden Rams closer, 6-9 with three seconds before halftime.
The Golden Rams offense continued to sputter in the third quarter while North Greenville continued to capitalize on its’ own. With the help of two pass interference penalties on one possession, the Crusaders score on a 5-yard touchdown pass to build their lead to 6-16 at the 12:10 mark. NGU’s lead increased the lead to 6-23 thanks to a 17-yard touchdown with 41 seconds left in the period.
ASU, however, would not go away quietly. Junior quarterback Frank Rivers connected with his favorite target Atkins to score a 31-yard touchdown to cut the Golden Rams’ deficit to 12-23 with 11:38 remaining in the game. The two-point conversion failed.
Junior running back Phillip Moore would join Albany State’s scoring parade with a 6-yard touchdown to bring ASU closer, 18-23, with 7:15 left in regulation. The Golden Rams attempt at a two-point conversion failed once again.
Albany State finally took the lead at 24-23 when Rivers found Atkins again for a 14-yard touchdown with 2:55 left in the game. ASU’s third attempt at a two-point conversion was also no good.
The Golden Rams’ lead was short lived, as North Greenville made a 31-yard field goal to put the Crusaders back in front 24-26 with 42 seconds left in the game. Albany State still had an opportunity to snatch victory from the defeat, but a Rivers’ interception ended the Golden Rams comeback hopes.
Rivers finished the game 19-46 for 249 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Moore rushed 10 times for 69 yards. Wide receiver Devonta Osborne had four catches for 57 yards.
Junior linebacker Larry Whitfield led the ASU defense with eight tackles, followed by senior Marcavius Dudley (seven tackles) and Arkeen Riley (six tackles). Defensive back Quintory Braswell recorded three pass break-ups.
The Albany State Golden Rams will return to action on Saturday, September 14th when thej face the Tuskegee Golden Tigers at Albany State University Coliseum in the annual Joseph W. Holley Memorial Game. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.
Stan McCormick, M. Ed
Director of Sports Information