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Savannah State 49 Clark Atlanta 14

Savannah State broke open a close game with 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to send their alumni and fans home happy in a 49-14 Homecoming victory over Clark Atlanta, in a game played on October 16, 2021.

The crowd of 6,000 at Theodore A. Wright Stadium saw the win their sixth straight game as they Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference while CAU fell to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the SIAC.

The Tigers also won the game without the services of their best running back, D’Angelo Durham who sat out the game because of an injury.

Savannah State scored on their first possession when Shamarcus Poole found the end zone on a oneyard run to cap a five play, 55 yard drive with 10:33 left in the first quarter. Key plays on the drive were consecutive big runs by Einaj Carter (17 yards), Poole (12 yards) and D’Vonn Gibbons (16 yards) that landed SSU at the Panthers ten yard line.

D’Angelo Durham
D’Angelo Durham

On the Tigers third drive of the day, Carter dashed for a 73-yard scamper that gave SSU a 14-0 lead with 2:19 showing on the clock.

Early in the second quarter, SSU increased their advantage to 21-0 when Ny’em Bozeman blocked a CAU punt and returned it 53 yards for a score.

The Panthers returned the favor and blocked a Savannah State punt which set up their lone first half touchdown. SSU led 21-7 at intermission.

CAU closed their gap to 21-14 midway in the third quarter when they scored a touchdown following the interception of a Gibbons pass.

Early in the fourth quarter, SSU defensive back Le’Vonte Larry forced a Clark Atlanta player to fumble the ball and it was recovered by Tiger linebacker Tim Campbell who ran it back to the CAU ten. That set up a four yard touchdown run by Malyk Walker with 13:05 left in the game for a 28-14 lead.

A 57-yard touchdown pass and catch from JT Hartage to Adunte Devereux to cap a four play, 73 yard drive with 8:19 left gave the Tigers more breathing room with a 35-14 cushion.

Shamarcus Poole
Shamarcus Poole

A little under two minutes later, Savannah State defensive end Cameron Brown sacked the CAU quarterback and caused him to fumble the ball. Salik Mc- Crae scooped it up and rambled 67 yards for a touchdown to widen SSU’s lead to 42-14 at the 6:09 mark.

Jamaal McKinney sacked the Panther quarterback on the following CAU possession and it was recovered by Marlon Jackson at the CAU 26. That set up the game’s final touchdown as student manager turned running back Jatavion Williams scored on a four yard run with 1:12 remaining for the 49-14 victory.

The Tigers had 399 yards of offense but also racked up 14 penalties for 165 yards. The SSU defense held Clark Atlanta to 153 yards, had six sacks and recovered four fumbles.

Carter led SSU in rushing with 109 yards and a touchdown on six carries while Gibbons added 89 yards on 12 carries. Hartage completed five of six pass attempts for 96 yards and a score while Gibbons connected of three of four pass attempts for 24 yards. Devereus had three receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Vaughn Cornelia
Vaughn Cornelia

Makenyl Newbill led the defense with five tackle, three tackles for loss and 1.5 sack while Cameron Brown and McKinney had two sacks apiece and Larry had a interception.

Cornelia Dies At Age 28

Former Savannah State football player Vaughn Cornelia has died.

Cornelia died on October 10 at age 28. No cause was given for his death. He was a native of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee which is a suburb of Nashville.

Cornelia played for the Tigers for two years (2011-12) after a standout prep career where he was one of the top players in the state of Tennessee. As a high school senior at Mt. Juliet High, he caught 40 passes and scored 19 touchdowns.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound athlete signed with SSU although he drew interest from UAB, Vanderbilt, Louisville and Illinois.

Walter Yates
Walter Yates

As a freshman at Savannah State, Cornelia played in ten games on offense and defense. As a wide receiver, he caught two passes for 54 yards against Florida A&M. As a defensive back, he ended the season with 18 tackles. Cornelia had 11 tackles against Appalachian State.

During the 2012 season, he played in eight games and finished the season with 43 tackles which was good enough to be tied for fourth on the team. He also had two interceptions, four pass deflections and one forced fumble. Cornelia had a career-high 14 tackles against Bethune-Cookman.

Following college, Cornelia played semi-pro football for the Nashville Storm and Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs. he also played in the Arena League football with the Dayton Wolf Pack, Georgia Doom and Peach State Cats.

According to his obituary, in addition to enjoying sports, Cornelia was an artist and history buff.

Former SSU African American History professor Amir Toure said he remembers Cornelia from taking one of his classes. “What struck me was that he felt the pain and he was sensitive to the suffering that others endured,” stated Toure.

D’Vonn Gibbons
D’Vonn Gibbons

Funeral services were held Oct. 18 at Sellars Funeral Home in Mt, Juliet and interment was held at Mt. Juliet Memorial Gardens.

Tigers Begin Rivalry Week

For the next two weeks, the Savannah State football team will have their own version of rivalry week.

The Tigers will travel to Albany State on October 23 and a week later will venture to Fort Valley State on Oct. 30.

Although both Albany State and Fort Valley State lead the overall series with SSU, whenever these teams meet in any sport, records can be thrown out the window.

The contest at Hugh Mills Stadium this weekend should be exciting with first place in the SIAC Eastern Division on the line.

Savannah State and the Golden Rams have met 62 previous times and ASU leads the series, 17-43- 2.

The last time the teams met in 2019, the Tigers knocked off ASU 35-19 in Savannah. In that contest, D’Angelo Durham ran for 150 yards and scored three touchdowns while Walter Yates ended the day with 11 tackles.

SSU (6-1, 4-0) enters the game coming off a 49-14 Homecoming win over Clark Atlanta while the Golden Rams (6-1, 3-0) defeated Benedict 28-6 in their last outing.

Both teams are ranked in several Black College polls.

Savannah State is ranked seventh in the latest Ultimate HBCU Sports Football Poll while the Golden Rams are 10th. SSU is ranked ninth in the BOXTOROW HBCU Football Media Poll while Albany State is tied for seventh with Southern. In the latest American Football Coaches Association Poll, neither team is ranked but ASU received 11 votes while the Tigers received seven.

Both teams are also ranked high in the latest Division II statistics.

SSU leads the nation in blocked punts and is 10th in rushing offense, 11th in total defense, 15th in passing yards allowed and 20th in red zone defense. Albany State leads all of D2 in scoring defense and is third in red zone defense, fifth in total defense and passing yards allowed and 23rd in rush defense.

Savannah State score 33.7 points a game while the defense allows 20 points per contest. The Tigers average 342.4 yards of offense per outing and yields 261.4 yards per game.

The SSU offense is built around the run and is led by quarterback D’Vonn Gibbons (521 yards and four touchdowns), Durham (379 yards and six touchdowns) and Einaj Carter (243 yards and two touchdowns). JT Hartage has completed 60 percent of his passes for 491 yards and six touchdowns. Carter is the top target with ten receptions for 237 yards and four touchdowns.

Coastal Empire standouts Brendan Jackson (Statesboro) leads the Tigers in tackles with 29 while Makenyl Newbill (South Effingham) has 3.5 sacks and Le’Vonte Larry (Wayne County) has three interceptions.

Albany State’s offense produces 23.3 points and 312 yards a game while their defense only gives up 10.3 points and 245.1 yards a night. The Golden Rams are led by Marcius Fulks who has ran for 435 yards while scoring eight touchdowns. Dionte Bonneau has completed 52 percent of his passes for 802 yards and eight touchdowns. Tyree Taylor is a threat at wide receiver, having caught eight passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, ASU counts on Stephan Pierre (45 tackles), Malik Barnes (four sacks) and Malachi Brown (three interceptions).

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