Tigers To Travel To FVSU
The Savannah State football team will try to get back on track this week when they travel to middle Georgia to take on rival Fort Valley State at Wildcat Stadium. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. The Tigers (6-2, 4-1 SIAC) enter the game coming off a 30-0 loss to Albany State while Fort Valley State (5-3, 3-1) posted a 40-7 Homecoming win over Clark Atlanta.
Two weeks ago, SSU struggled against Clark Atlanta for three quarters before pulling away in the fourth quarter with 28 unanswered points.
When Savannah State met the Wildcats in 2019, SSU walked away with a 53-24 win. In that game, D’Angelo Durham ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. D’Vonn Gibbons added 145 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for four touchdowns. The Tigers finished the evening with 450 yards of offense. In that same game, FVSU wide receiver Shemar Bridges exposed the SSU secondary with seven receptions for 129 yards.
Fort Valley State leads the overall series with Savannah State, 13-36-4. The last time a SSU team beat the Wildcats in Fort Valley was in 1995, a 28-7 victory while Wendell Avery was the SSU head coach. FVSU has won seven of the last ten contests against Savannah State.
The Savannah State offense averages nearly 30 points (29.5) and over 330 yards (307) a game. The Tiger defense yields just over 21 points and 275 yards per game.
SSU’s triple option running attack has been led by D’Vonn Gibbons (436 yards and four touchdowns), D’Angelo Durham (387 yards and six touchdowns) and Einaj Carter (254 yards and two touchdowns). JT Hartage has thrown for 497 yards and six touchdowns. Carter is also the leading receiver with ten catches for 237 yards and four scores.
Defensively, Brendan Jackson has 31 tackles, Makenly Newbill has 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks while Le’Vonte Larry has picked off three passes.
FVSU averages 27.4 points a game. They also average 349 yards per outing with 121 coming on the ground and 228 via air.
The Wildcats rely on bruising fullbacks Emanuel Wilson (6-1, 220) and Kentrelle Williams (5- 10, 225) to carry the bulk of the load. Wilson ran for 161 yards and a touchdown against Clark Atlanta while Williams added 84 yards and a score against CAU. Tyrell Jackson has passed for 1,751 yards and 14 touchdowns thus far. The Wildcats have size at wide receiver with several players 6-foot-1 or taller. Erron Price (6- 2, 180), Tajee Steele (6-0, 180), Bridges (6-5, 210) and Cordell Pimienta (6-2, 185) have combined for 104 catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensive back Tyler Moore leads the “Blue Death” defense with 46 tackles. Liberty County native Antonio Golden anchors the defensive line with 14 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks while defensive back Christian Maddox has a trio of interceptions.
Fort Valley State surrenders 20.9 points and 316.4 yards per game.
Inside The SIAC
With the football season heading down the stretch, there is still a logjam in the Eastern and Western Divisions of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Albany State is the lone team with a undefeated conference mark after the Golden Rams demolished Savannah State, 30-0 on October 23. SSU, Fort Valley State and Morehouse all have one conference lost while Benedict and Clark Atlanta are still seeking their first SIAC victory, in the Eastern side.
Over on the Western side, Miles is the only team with a conference mark above .500. Kentucky State, Tuskegee and Lane all have two conference loses while Central State, who fired their coach last week, is still searching for a SIAC win under interim coach George Ragsdale.
Savannah State can still make the SIAC Championship game, with a little help. The Tigers must win their final conference game against FVSU and hope that Albany State falls to Morehouse and Fort Valley State. Morehouse started the season losing their first five games but has since turned things around and are riding a three game winning streak.
Besides Albany State beating SSU on October 23, other SIAC results were Miles over Kentucky State 28-21, Edward Waters over Central State 56-19, Lane over Tuskegee 21-17, Fort Valley State over Clark Atlanta 40-7, Morehouse over Benedict 20-5 and Erskine over Allen 47-40.
Albany State (7-1, 4-0) has the best record in the SIAC followed by SSU (6-2, 4-1), Fort Valley State (5-3, 3-1), Lane (5-3, 2-2), Miles (4-4, 3-2), Kentucky State (4-4, 2-2), Morehouse (3-5, 3-1), Tuskegee (3-5, 2-2), Benedict (3-5, 0-4), Clark Atlanta (2-6, 0-4) and Central State (1-7, 0-4).
SIAC newcomers Edward Waters and Allen are ineligible for the conference title this year. Ed Waters has a 3-5 record while Allen is 3-4 thus far.
VanDusen Joins Staff at SCAD
Justin VanDusen, who spent the past three years as the head strength and conditioning coach at Savannah State University is now the the head strength and conditioning coach at the Savannah College of Art & Design. During his time at SSU, he also headed up the development of a nutrition station which was located in Tiger Arena.
Prior to SSU Van- Dusen worked as an assistant strength coach at Limestone University working with various athletics programs such as Lacrosse, Wrestling, Volleyball, Golf and Swimming from 2015- 2018. During his time at Limestone he helped co-develop their two nutrition stations as well as trained the wrestling 2017 National Champion in the 157lb weight class. In addition to his time at Limestone, Van- Dusen coached during a volunteer internship at the United States Naval Academy working with Football and other Olympic sports in 2015.
VanDusen is a graduate of Kent State University in Ohio, earning his B.S. in Exercise Science and M.A. in Sport and Recreation Management. During graduate school he coached as a Graduated Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach under Master Strength Coach Bob Lemeiux. He is certified by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, hold the Specialist in Sports Nutrition through the ISSA and is CPR/AED certified.