When coaches talk about playing complete games, Tuskegee’s performance in the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic on Saturday is what they mean.
The Golden Tigers (5-1, 3-0) controlled every aspect of the game, scoring in a number of different fashions, en route to a 54-10 victory in the 78th meeting between the two teams.
They were led by impressive offensive performances from running back Hoderick Lowe and stand-in quarterback Rashard Burkette, who usually plays wide receiver but started under center in place of the injured Justin Nared. Defensively, Aaron Bennett turned in four sacks, and on special teams Travis Lee blocked and returned a punt for a touchdown.
“We’ve been talking all week that we had to have some guys step up for us,” Tuskegee coach Willie Slater said. “I can’t complain.”
After Lee put the Golden Tigers on the scoreboard first with his blocked punt, Lowe took over the offense. By halftime, Lowe had two rushing touchdowns and one receiving. His first came on a 29-yarder to cap off a 75-yard drive to make it 13-0. He scored two more inside of six minutes left in the half, a 13-yard pass from Burkette and a 4-yard run with 15 seconds on the clock to give the Golden Tigers a 33-3 lead going into the half.
He added an 18-yard run in the third quarter for a 40-10 lead. All told, Lowe had 93 yards receiving, 75 rushing and four total touchdowns. He was named the game’s most outstanding player.
“We just executed plays, stayed on our assignments,” Lowe said. “I trusted my linemen and listened to my coaches. Things work out when you do that.”
Slater praised Burkette’s performance, as well, leading the offense despite being a regular wide receiver.
After the offense struggled to get going out of the gates, fumbling on its opening possession and facing a third-and-10 on its second, Burkette was able to make a big play scrambling to his left away from pressure and finding a receiver 40 yards down the field.
That play set up Lowe’s 29-yard touchdown run two plays later.
“That play gave a big spark for us,” Burkette said. “It’s the scramble drill, when everything breaks down. We actually practice that. Things aren’t always going to go your way, so the main thing I want to do is keep my eyes down field on the scramble.”
Burkette finished 12 of 19 for 247 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Running back Michael Thornton, who rushed for 72 yards in the game, added a 26-yard touchdown in the second quarter, Tyree Brooks had a 6-yarder in the fourth and Jerome Lewis went 5 yards up the gut for the team’s final score of the game.
The defense was in control for most of the afternoon, as well, allowing only a first-half field goal and a 22-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the second half. It allowed only 278 yards of total offense, as compared to the 598 gained by the Tuskegee offense.
“The defense played good,” Slater said. “It gave us good field possession, and we were able to get a good rhythm on offense.”
The Classic capped off a six-game road swing for Tuskegee, which nonetheless managed to win five times and put it firmly in the conference race. Still, players and coaches expressed pleasure at the idea of returning home.
“We’re very excited to play our first home game,” Burkette said. “Those long bus rides are not comfortable.”
TUSKEGEE 54, MOREHOUSE 10
Morehouse 3 0 7 0—10
Tuskegee 13 20 7 14—54
T—Lee 6 blocked punt return (kick failed); 9:30
T—Lowe 29 run (Wylie kick); 5:27
M—Solis 23 field goal; 1:48
T—Thornton 26 run (kick blocked); 13:17
T—Lowe 13 pass from Burkette (Wylie kick); 3:20
T—Lowe 4 run (Wylie kick); :15
M—Cox 22 pass from Tarver (Solis kick); 10:07
T—Lowe 18 run (Wylie kick); 7:18
T—Brooks 6 run (Wylie kick); 14:53
T—Lewis 5 run (Wylie kick); 10:57
First downs 16 22
Rushes-yards 36-121 39-351
Passing 157 247
Comp-Att-Int 14-29-1 12-19-0
Return yards -1 57
Punts-Avg. 7-30.6 3-27.3
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards 5-53 10-142
RUSHING—Morehouse, Hamilton 18-59, Agoro 1-41, Wyche 5-29, Tarver 4-25. Tuskegee, Lacey 5-86, Lowe 9-75, Thornton 4-72, Brooks 6-40.
PASSING—Morehouse, Tarver 9-21-1-99, Johnson 5-8-0-58. Tuskegee, Burkette 12-19-0-247.
RECEIVING—Morehouse, Cox 4-63, Mann 3-38, McGuffie 3-31, Moore 2-12. Tuskegee, Williams 4-103, Lowe 3-93, Cobb 2-23, Franklin 2-13.