Tuskegee’s one-win record entering the 84th Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic might have been a bit misleading. Of course, records really don’t mean much in storied rivalries like the one that took place Saturday.
The Golden Tigers (2-4) beat the Morehouse Maroon Tigers (2-4) 21-10, thanks to their two-quarterback system, and added another chapter to an already-storied history between the two schools. There were no overtimes this time around, though the score could have been much more lopsided: Tuskegee had three touchdowns wiped out by penalty flags.
Tuskegee coach Willie Slater said the Golden Tigers “needed this game,” for lots of reasons, including team morale. He said that the team’s 1-4 record was “hard to swallow,” and that he hadn’t experienced back-to-back losses in his Tuskegee coaching career. His team responded in a big way.
“It’s good to get back on the winning track,” Slater said. “Hopefully, we can build on this and get better. We’ve been talking, but talk is cheap. And I saw a lot better effort today. I thought we tried to play 60 minutes, which we hadn’t done in the two previous games. I saw a group of guys trying to play the whole game today.”
Golden Tigers quarterback Ahmad Deramus was the star of this year’s game, throwing for 137 yards and accounting for two touchdowns. His final touchdown pass (and second to receiver Peyton Ramzy) iced the game, and punctuated what could be a season-changing win for the Golden Tigers.
The Golden Tigers’ defense stayed dialed in throughout the game, notching three sacks and forcing two interceptions. Tuskegee held Morehouse to 4-of-13 on third down, an all-around dominant performance on both sides of the ball.
“If we can win out, we’ve got a chance to win our side (of the SIAA standings),” Slater said.
After Saturday’s game, Tuskegee leads the all-time series 73-28-7.
The action, though, did not start at kickoff.
The week-long series of events began last Sunday, with a worship service at Greater Beallwood Baptist Church. The game’s media day, hosted by Sportsvisions, was held at the Columbus Civic Center Wednesday, with coaches and student-athletes from both schools, and a plethora of local high school prep teams, present. This year’s Classic was headlined by a pre-game parade, which took place at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The game’s popularity has skyrocketed since its beginnings. Nicknamed the “granddaddy of all classics,” Tuskegee-Morehouse routinely draws thousands of spectators. This year was no different: The game itself drew both a sizable crowd and a massive tailgating scene.
“(The environment) was nice, as usual, to me,” Darlene Hall, a 1986 graduate of Tuskegee who made the trip to Columbus from Atlanta, said. “It was a pretty good game. I graduated from Tuskegee, so I’m glad we won, but I have a nephew that coaches for Morehouse, so I was kind of torn.”
Hall said she rooted for Tuskegee.
“I always root for my alma mater,” Hall said with a smirk and a laugh. “But I try to be even keeled.”
Between 1920 and 1958, Columbus was the venue for every game except one between Georgia and Auburn, until the rivalry grew too large for the site. The Bulldogs also faced Alabama a few times at Memorial Stadium. But those contests were not open to black Soldiers from Fort Benning or minority residents.
So the Classic’s founders, along with the athletic directors of Tuskegee and Morehouse, decided to create a new cultural and community event. Thus, the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic was born. The first Tuskegee-Morehouse Football Classic was played in Columbus in 1936.
The Tuskegee-Morehouse planning committee is staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers. The primary purpose of the Tuskegee-Morehouse Football Classic is to help raise funds for scholarships.