Savannah State freshman Einaj Carter was named the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Freshman of the Year for his performance during the historic 2019 season, according to a press release from the league office Thursday afternoon.
Along with Carter, seven Savannah State student athletes were named to the SIAC All-Conference teams. The yearly post-season poll is voted on by sports information directors and head coaches from each school in the conference.
Carter, a 5-8 freshman from Poughkeepsie, New York, played multiple positions in his first season. As a running back, Carter finished the season with 131 rushing yards on 32 carries. He had six catches as a receiver for 96 yards with two touchdowns. As a kick returner, Carter had 15 carries for 269 yards, averaging 17.9 yards a carry. He ranked 10th in the SIAC in kickoff returns.
Senior kicker Giovanni Lugo was named to the SIAC All-Conference First Team for the punter position and to the Second Team as a kicker. Carter was named to the First Team as well in the punt returner position. Jontae Baker was named to the All-Conference First Team at the tight end position.
Lugo finished his final season as one of the top kickers in the conference, punting for 2,028 yards, averaging 39.8 yards a kick. He drilled 6-of-7 field goal attempts on the year with his longest being a 49-yarder.
A key part of the Tigers’ defensive effort, Lugo averaged 56.3 yards on kickoffs this season for a total of 2,308 yards. He led the entire SIAC in punt yardage by almost 1,000 yards, ranking first in the conference and 44th nationally.
On the SIAC All-Conference Second Team, offensive lineman Tajavious Jackson, defensive lineman Cameron Brown, linebacker Walter Yates, as well as defensive backs Ny’em Bozeman and John Wilson were named.
Bozeman ranked first in the SIAC in interceptions per game. Yates finished 6th in interceptions per game and 7th in average solo tackles in the SIAC. He led the Tigers with 61 tackles on the season, including 43 solo.
The 2019, 7-3, Savannah State Tigers made history this season. They recorded the first winning season since 1998 and first undefeated conference run since 1989. Their 60-21 win over Virginia University of Lynchburg was only the fifth time in school history a Tiger team scored 60 or more points in a single game.
The Savannah State defense was one of the best in the conference and ranked nationally this year. They were the top scoring defense in the SIAC and 8th best in the nation. They ranked 2nd in blocked punts and interceptions, and 3rd in team sacks within the conference.
The Tiger defense was ranked first in the SIAC in stopping 3rd down conversions and 5th in fumble recoveries. The Tigers’ offensive line was the top ranked in the SIAC and 2nd nationally in sacks allowed.
The Savannah State offense set a new school record for most rushing yards in a year with 2,603, eclipsing the previous record of 2,567 set by the 1991 Tigers. They also set a new school record for average rushed yards per game (260.3).
The Tigers were ranked 20th in all of NCAA Division II in 4th down conversions and first in the SIAC. They were ranked 2nd in the SIAC in passing yards per completion and 6th in total offense.
Running back D’Angelo Durham, who was nominated for the SIAC Player of the Year award and as a running back, finished his sophomore season with 1,034 rushing yards. He’s only the fifth player in Savannah State history—and one of only two running backs in the SIAC during the 2019 season—to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season
He led the SIAC in rushing touchdowns, rushed yards, scoring, total points scored, total touchdowns and was 2nd in rushed yards per game. Durham tied Chris Cachere of the 1994 Tigers for 4th most rushing TD’s in a single season with 12. He also tied NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe for 4th most TD’s in a single season in school history with 12.
D’Vonn Gibbons, who was nominated for SIAC Offensive Player of the Year and at the quarterback position, was 6th in the SIAC in passing TD’s and 2nd in rushing TD’s, and 2nd in scoring.
Shawn Quinn is only the second head coach in the program’s history to record a winning season in their inaugural coaching year.
Savannah State football was rendered ineligible by an internal preseason vote by the conference to compete for the SIAC Championship. The Tigers claimed the SIAC East Division title with a perfect 5-0 record against conference foes this season.