Devon Mann knows all about the importance of Morehouse’s annual game against Clark Atlanta.
“It’s the biggest game of the season. We can’t lose this game,” said Mann (Newton), Morehouse’s leading receiver. “It’s almost as important as the national championship. It’s a pride thing. We’re playing for the AUC championship. We want to have the AUC crown.”
The Maroon Tigers (2-2) have won the past four meetings with neighboring Clark Atlanta (0-3, 0-2 in the SIAC) in a rivalry that dates to 1905. Saturday’s 7 p.m. game at B.T. Harvey Stadium will be televised on Bounce TV.
First-year Clark coach Kevin Weston has been fully indoctrinated in the what this rivalry means to players from both teams, who see each other around the Atlanta University Center and Atlanta on a daily basis. Many players are from the same high schools and have known each other for years.
“I knew about this rivalry even though I hadn’t been around the programs before this year,” said Weston, who played and coached at Tusculum. “I know what it means to both institutions and to the city of Atlanta. We always talk about how the next game is the biggest game, but to say (my players) haven’t been talking about this game for a while is hard to say. Everybody around campus has been talking about it, but it’s still a game, and we have to be mentally and physically prepared to play it. That can’t be lost in the whole event.”
Morehouse has won two consecutive games and leads the SIAC in rushing with 217.8 yards a game despite injuries to two quarterbacks and two running backs.
Coach Rich Freeman said leading rusher Shelton Hamilton (303 yards) has recovered from a hand injury to play, but backup Winston Bodrick (Mays), who has 152 yards, likely will miss the rest of the year with a knee injury.
Senior Thomas Williams rushed for a career-high 118 yards and three TDs in Saturday’s win over Edward Waters.
Joshua Harris started at quarterback last week in place of freshman Monquavious Johnson (M.L. King), who twisted his ankle in practice. Freeman said Johnson is questionable for the game.
Freshman quarterback Jordan Tarver (Stephenson) also has been limited with a knee injury.
Clark’s Wing-T offense has struggled, but running backs Bradley Battles, who has 204 yards, and Montavious Taylor (Carver-Atlanta), who has 187 yards, are the leading rushers.
Freshman QB Trenton Earl (Stockbridge) has attempted only 20 passes – last in Division II – and completed eight for 96 yards.
Morehouse has won seven of the past 10 meetings with Clark and Freeman is 5-1 against the Panthers.
“This is a pride game, part of our culture in football,” he said. “We don’t have a player on campus who knows what it feels like to lose to Clark. We hold the title for the West End. This is for recruiting. This is for bragging rights.”
Around the state
Bounce TV also will televise the Morehouse-Tuskegee game at 2 p.m. on Oct. 12, Albany State vs. Fort Valley State at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9 and the SIAC Championship game at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16. … Top-ranked Valdosta State (3-0) has scored in 262 consecutive games, the longest streak in Division II. … Valdosta State CB Dominique Wheeler (Roswell) is the Gulf South Conference defensive player of the week after returning a fumble for a TD and intercepting a pass in the win over Angelo State. … Former Fort Valley State P Marquette King (Rutland), who is with the Oakland Raiders, is averaging 48.5 yards a punt, sixth in the NFL. … LB Anthony Batey scored Berry’s first-ever defensive TD when he picked up a fumble 6 yards deep in the end zone and returned it for a score. … Georgia Southern QB Jerick McKinnon (Sprayberry) has 3,264 career rushing yards to move ahead of Tracy Ham for seventh in school history. … FVSU DB Ja’Bioas Glenn (Dooly County) blocked two punts and returned an interception for a TD in a win over Benedict. … Albany State WR Jessie Atkins (Mitchell County) had 13 catches for 160 yards and two TDs in a loss to Miles. … West Georgia’s Joey Eliezer (North Paulding) is averaging 32.2 yards on his six catches.
Georgia Military at Ellsworth (Iowa), 1 p.m.
LaGrange at N.C. Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
Savannah State at Norfolk State, 1 p.m.
North Alabama at Shorter, 1:30 p.m.
Reinhardt at Union (Ky.), 1:30 p.m.
Berry at Washington (Mo.), 2 p.m.
Point at West Georgia, 2 p.m.
Georgia Southern at Samford, 3 p.m.
Florida Tech at Valdosta State, 3 p.m.
Mercer at San Diego, 4 p.m.
Tuskegee at Fort Valley State, 6 p.m.
Clark Atlanta at Morehouse, 7 p.m.