Tigers looking to improve on their 7-3 mark in 2019
The 2021 Savannah State football season is around the corner and the Tigers will look to win the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crown as well as advance to the Division II playoffs. During he 2019 season, SSU posted a 7-3 mark and won all five of their conference games. The 2021 schedule is highlighted with six home games and four non-conference matchups. The last time Savannah State had six home games was back in 1984 when they played host to Valdosta State, North Alabama, Morehouse, Mars Hill, Fort Valley State and Alabama A&M.
Here is deeper look into what’s in store for the Tigers in 2021.
GAME 1: at Valdosta State, September 4
Valdosta State leads the series with SSU, 5-0. The last time the teams played each other was back in 1987, when SSU hosted the Blazers for Homecoming and lost 35-16. Savannah State led VSU 10-7 in 1983 but a fourth quarter fumble by the Tigers led to a Blazer touchdown with less than two minutes remaining to give VSU a 14-10 win. VSU finished the 2019 season with a 10-1 record and advanced to the second round of the Division II playoffs before losing to West Florida 38-35. Sean Fogarty, a former All-MEAC offensive lineman with SSU, is the Blazers tight end coach.
GAME 2: Livingstone, September 11
The Tigers will welcome Livingstone to town for their home opener. Savannah State leads this series 7-1. They last played each other in 2009 in Greenville, South Carolina in the 5th Annual HBCU Classic. SSU won the game, 34-12. Livingstone has not had a winning season since 2015. The Blue Bears went 4-6 in 2019. Former NFL player Sean Gilbert was hired as the LC head football coach in January 2020. Lamonte Massie-Sampson, a former SSU assistant athletics director is the AD for the Blue Bears.
GAME 3: Benedict, September 18
This game will be a battle of the Tigers as Savannah State begins conference play. In their last match-up in 2019, SSU outlasted Benedict 21-14 in the Augusta Classic. This year, Benedict will have a new coach roaming the sidelines in Chennis Berry who also happens to be a former All-SIAC player at SSU. Berry also got his coaching start at Savannah State as a student assistant working with the offensive line. SSU and Benedict have met 15 times in the past and Benedict has won 12 of those contests. Berry hopes to improve his Tigers who slipped to 1-9 in 2019.
GAME 4: Morehouse, September 25
Savannah State closes out a three-game home-stand against another set of Tigers. This week, they take on the Morehouse Maroon Tigers. The series, which dates back to 1927 is tied at 15-15. In their 2019 battle, SSU escaped B. T. Harvey Stadium with a 17- 10 win. No scoring was done after halftime in this contest. Rich Freeman has been the Morehouse head coach since 2007. Ruben Perez, who is the Morehouse associate athletics director for Strategic Communications and External Operations, earned his undergraduate degree from Savannah State.
GAME 5: at Kentucky
State, October 2
SSU hits the road for the first time since September 4. They will travel to their only out of state contest of the season to play Kentucky State in Franfort, Kentucky. These teams have not seen each other since 1999 when KSU won 24-23. The overall series is tied at 5-5 so some bragging rights will be on the line. The Thorobreds were 7-3 during the 2019 season which include wins over two FCS programs (Jackson State and Robert Morris). Former Atlanta Falcons assistant Charlie Jackson is the head coach at KSU and one of his assistants is former SSU defensive standout George Brewer who played for the Tigers in 1993 followed by a career in the arena league.
GAME 6: Erskine October 9
Savannah State and Erskine will meet for the first time. Erskine stopped playing football in 1951 and revived their program and played some games during spring 2021 and won one of the six games they played. Their lone victory was a season opening 30-28 win over Barton..
GAME 7: Clark Atlanta, October 16 (Homecoming)
The Tigers will celebrate homecoming against the Panthers from Clark Atlanta. In 2019, SSU toppled the Panthers 22-15 in a game that went into overtime. The contest, which was CAU’s homecoming game, was also played in soggy field conditions as the outer rain bands of Tropical Storm Nester hovered over Panther Stadium. SSU, which has not lost to the Panthers since 1997, leads the series against Clark Atlanta 26- 18-1. Former Alabama wide
receiver Tim Bowens is the Panthers head coach.
GAME 8: at Albany State, October 23
Savannah State and Albany State will meet for the 63rd time in a rivalry that dates back to 1932. SSU handled their business and won the 2019 game by a score of 35- 19. Before that, the last time the Tigers beat ASU was 1991. The game will be a reunion for the head coaches. SSU head coach Shawn Quinn and ASU head coach Gabe Giardina were assistants on the same coaching staff at Charleston Southern. Jalen Bush, a former SSU defensive back is now on the Golden Rams coaching staff as a defensive analyst/ cornerback coach.
GAME 9: at Fort Valley State October 30
In their final regular season road game of the year, the Tigers travel to long time rival, Fort Valley State. Although the Wildcats lead the series, 36-13-4, anytime these teams meet, records can be thrown out the window. SSU won the 2019 battle 55-24 so the Wildcats will be seeking revenge. Maurice Flowers was hired in January 2020 to revive the Wildcat program.
GAME 10: Edward Waters, November 6
Savannah State closes out the regular season by hosting Division II and SIAC newcomer Edward Waters. Savannah State won the last meeting in 2019 by a score of 49-19 to close the gap in the series that EWC leads 13-10-4. Toriano Morgan is in his first season as head coach at Edward Waters. Morgan spent the past two seasons as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/ quarterbacks coach at Virginia State.