Bethune- Cookman 35 SSU 20
Bethune-Cookman’s offense rolled up 455 yards as the Wildcats spoiled Savannah State’s football home opener with a 35-20 victory over the Tigers in a game played at T. A. Wright Stadium.
The crowd of 5,018 saw SSU take the early lead in the game when TJ Bell threw a eight-yard touchdown pass to Paris Baker (Jenkins High) with 11:14 left in the first quarter.
B-CU tied the game later in the quarter and went ahead 14-7 early in the second quarter. The Tigers tied the game with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter when D’Vonn Gibbons threw a 28 yard touchdown pass to James Kicklighhter (Windsor Forest High). The Wildcats scored a touchdown just before halftime to go ahead 21-14.
Cookman added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to stretch their advantage to 35-14. SSU’s Rashad Saxton scored on a 11 yard run early in the fourth quarter to pull the Tigers within 35-20.
The Tigers, who only had 225 yards of offense, were led by Gibbons, who passed for 98 yards and Saxton, who ran for 51 yards. Kicklighter caught three passes while John Wilson had 8.5 tackles and Isaiah Bennett had a interception. JaMichael Baldwin (Johnson High) returned one punt for 62 yards and four kickoffs for 145 yards.
SSU falls to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the MEAC. Bethune-Cookman, who is coached by Jesup, Georgia native Terry sims, improves to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
SSU Bids Farewell to Steward
Savannah State University bid farewell to outgoing director of athletics Sterling Steward, Jr. at a function held on September 25 at the Patio on the Marsh inside the university’s King Frazier Student Center.
About 50 people, mainly athletic boosters and alumni, attended the social, which was hosted by SSU president, Dr. Cheryl Dozier. While many who spoke said that they did not see eye to eye with Steward, they all described him with adjectives such as passionate, committed, dedicated and integrity.
Dozier called Steward a lifesaver and recalled how he came in during a time when he school was going through a transition period. She went on to add that he was all about student success and his expertise was in compliance.
The Louisiana native was hired as the Tigers AD one month after the university was confirmed as a full member of the MEAC, back in 2011
Dr. Jacquelyn Stephens, a former SSU educator, said she was proud of Steward. “I was a part of the search committee that helped select him,” she recalled. “I have been so proud of him these past seven years. I’m proud of the Tigers logo and the sponsors he brought into the program.”
Most who came expressed their gratitude to Steward.
Beatrice Campbell, a Savannah
State alumnae and strong supporter said that during Steward’s tenure in Savannah, she and her husband, Lemuel, became like his surrogate parents. “For us, it’s like losing a son.”
SSU English instructor Patricia West mentioned that she was impressed with the academic and attire improvements Steward made with the athletes. “He has helped young boys turn into men. He also put high expectations on academics. I like the way he made the young men dress up with ties.”
With tears running down her face, SSU former women’s basketball player Taylor-Ashley Shaw thanked Steward for the opportunities he provided her.
“He gave me my first opportunity, my first internship. He saw potential in me,” stated Shaw who currently works as the university alumni relations coordinator.
Steward’s last day at Savannah Stated was Sept. 28. He has been hired as the new athletic director at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. UAF is a NCAA Division II institution that sponsors 10 varsity sports. In the fall of 2017, UAF had an enrollment of more than 8,700 students.
During his stay at SSU, the Tigers won seven conference championships, including one in golf, four in individual track and field, two in men’s basketball, one in softball, one in tennis and one in women’s basketball. Additionally, the SSU cheerleading squad won a national championship in 2017.
One of the reasons Steward took the job in Alaska was to be near his sons who live in Seattle, Washington.
“I was on the fence about taking the job. (SSU) is a beautiful place. We accomplished a lot here while having very little to work with.”
He told those gathered that in order to make sure SSU successful, everyone has to be on the same page with the same goals. “Athletics is the front porch of any university. We need everyone working together to make it work and succeed.”
Dr. Dozier has named SSU sports information director Opio Mashariki as the interim director of athletics.