by Stan McCormick, Sports Information Director
COLUMBUS, GEORGIA- Senior linebacker Marcavius Dudley had 16 tackles and a fumble recovery to lead the Albany State Golden Rams past arch-rival Fort Valley State 19-10 in the 24th Annual Fountain City Classic. With the victory, ASU wins the SIAC East Division and advances to the 2013 SIAC Championship game against West Division champion Miles College, who defeated Tuskegee 41-36 on Saturday.
Albany State is now 5-4 on the season, 4-0 in the SIAC. The Wildcats ended their season at 4-6, 3-1.
For the second straight game, the Golden Rams were unable to put any points on the scoreboard in the first half. Fort Valley State struck first with 12 seconds left in the first quarter with a 22-yard touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead.
The second period produced the same results. While the Wildcats capitalized on a 23-yard field goal to increase their lead to 10-0, Albany State still could not find its offensive groove. As a result, Fort Valley State continued to lead 10-0 when intermission arrived.
In the third stanza, the Golden Rams began to make their comeback. ASU went on a 6-play, 48-yard drive and cut its deficit to 10-6 thanks to a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Adrian Alexander with 10:37 left in the period. The PAT attempt failed.
With 7:58 left in quarter, quarterback Frank Rivers found Jessie Atkins in the end zone for a 42-yard strike to give Albany State its first lead of the game at 12-10. The PAT attempt once again failed. The drive used three plays and 79 yards.
The fourth quarter was filled with intensity and spectacular defensive plays. With the East Division title on the line, both teams showed they would not go away quietly. However, it was the Golden Rams who would deliver the final blow.
With 1:41 left in the game, Rivers ran a screen play and found Alexander, who avoided multiple defenders to score a 64-yard touchdown to give Albany State an 18-10 lead. Zachary Gayden-Holley’s PAT was good, and the Golden Rams led 19-10 after a 4-play, 85-yard drive.
Fort Valley State had one final chance to pull victory from defeat, but the ASU “Dirty Blue Defense” was steady and extinguished the Wildcats’ comeback hopes.
Linebacker Glenn Stanley joined Dudley, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, in putting on a defensive show. He recorded 10 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pass break up. Larry Whitfield recorded 10 tackles, and Dexter Moody added eight.
Offensively, Rivers threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Atkins caught four passes for 81 yards.
The Albany State Golden Rams return to action on Saturday, November 16th in the 2013 SIAC Championship game against the Miles College Golden Bears in Atlanta, Georgia. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. at Lakewood Stadium.