The Albany State Golden Rams enter SIAC play with a trip to Atlanta to take on the Panthers of Clark Atlanta.
Albany State enters the matchup fresh of a dominating 42-20 over the Gulf South’s Shorter University. Offensive Coordinator Adam Hollifield and head coach Gabe Giardina would undoubtedly like Dionte Bonneau to have completed more than 12 of his 24 pass attempts against the Hawks, however the Preseaon Offensive Player of the Year still managed to throw for 244 yards, 2 touchdowns , 1 interception; also carried the ball 6 times for 49 yards and two more touchdowns, including a 43-yard scoring scamper. Running back Marcuis Fulks had another strong performance, running for 119 yards and a touchdown. Fellow Ram ball carrier Kam Ward contributed 75 yards on a mere 10 carries. Albany State had four receivers with at least 40 yards receiving – Rashad Jordan (2/84), Aljhanod Jordan (3/50, `TD), Ralph Lovett (3/49, TD), Joe Shorter (2/42) – as Bonneau completed passes to 6 different receivers last Saturday. Defensively, the Golden Rams are lead by SIAC POY and DPOY, Linebcker, Stephan Pierre, who on the season leads the team in tackles (25) and sacks (2.5) and is second in tackles for loss with 4.5. On the season, the Albany State defense is allowing 19.0 ppg.
Clark Atlanta comes into the game licking their wounds from the 38-6 donkey-kicking courtesy of the Dragons of Lane College, handing the Panthers their first SIAC loss of the season in emphatic fashion. The Clark Atlanta defense was a conduit to offensive success, with redshirt senior quarterback Michael Huntley enjoying season-highs in attempts (29), completions (21) and passing touchdowns (4). Wideout Virgil Young had his best game of the young season, pulling in 6 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown; the same can also be said for fellow wideout Keith Johnson who had four receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. In total the CAU defense allowed 474 yards of total offense, and Lane averaged 8.3 yards per offensive play. Against Erskine College the previous week, defensive issues reared their ugly heads as they gave up two touchdowns in the fourth to lose a game in which CAU had more yards rushing, passing, total offense , yards per play, time of possession, third down conversions and sacks.
Why Clark Atlanta will win:
Clark quarterback Sean Stephens will resemble the signal caller seen in the first game against Edward Waters (19/32, 193 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs ) and less the QB seen over the Panther’s next two games, where he has been, at best a 50% passer, and has thrown multiple interceptions. The Panthers defense will win the battle up front against the Golden Rams much as they did against Erskine, where they held the Fleet to just 92 yards on the ground.
Why Albany State will win:
Sean Stephens will be even more of the quarterback of the last two weeks, that is to say slightly inefficient and more turnover prone. The Albany State defense, while to this point not as dominant as a season ago, will still present challenges that Stephens and the Clark Atlanta offense will be unable to solve as Pierre and the unit will make plays all over the field. The Rams offensive line will be able to open up lanes for Fulks, Ward, and even Bonneau when he decides to run. This will soften up the Clark defense for Bonneau and the Albany State passing game.
Albany State 31 Clark Atlanta 13