Savannah State defeats Lane College, 44-38

Courtesy of Savannah State Athletics

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Savannah, Ga. Savannah State University’s defense went on the offensive Saturday night.

The Tigers forced three turnovers leading to 20 points and ultimately a wild, season-ending 44-38 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) victory over Lane College at Theodore A. Wright Stadium.

“Three turnovers and we capitalized. I love it,” said senior defensive end Makenly Newbill who stripped Lane running back Kylan Duhe of the football to set up SSU at the Dragon 9-yard line for the tying touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Less than two minutes later, defensive back Jordan Clark jumped a screen route and returned the interception 20 yards for the winning points with 11:45 left.

“We watch a lot of film and that’s all we saw this week –  screens,” Clark said. “Immediately, when I saw (the receiver) shoot down, I followed him and I got the pick.”

Clark started the scoring with a 21-yard interception return in the first quarter.

“When the quarterback gives me a chance to get the ball, I’m going to score every time. That’s how I look at it,” Clark said.

The Tigers (5-5, 4-4 SIAC) had a different way of looking at things the last two weeks, climbing to a .500 record with wins over Fort Valley State and Lane to end the season.

“500 isn’t where we wanted to be, but it’s better than where we could have been,” Newbill said.

Makenly Newbill gets a big tackle in the Tigers win over Lane. [Photo by Stephen B. Morton]

Lane’s relentless running attack and a tricky passing attack rolled up 455 offensive yards and 34 points during the first three quarters.

But the Tigers never let the Dragons pull away. The game was tied six times – at 7, 14, 21, 24, 31 and 38. JT Hartage’s 6-yard TD pass to Da’Shun Mitchell knotted the game at 38 after Newbill’s fumble recovery.

Three plays later, Clark snuffed out the screen.

Lane (5-5, 4-3 SIAC) finished with 490 offensive yards but only 35 yards and one first down in the fourth quarter.

“We could have given up 700 yards, we wanted this win,” SSU coach Aaron Kelton said. “Forget about the defense giving up the yardage. We got 44 points. The offense and defense worked at this together.”

Hartage and Jadon Adams shared the quarterbacking and took turns making big plays to trump the methodical Dragons. Adams ran for 96 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and threw a TD pass. Hartage completed 11-of-12 passes for 117 yards and two scores.

Adams’ 50-yard TD run put the Tigers ahead 14-7 in the first quarter.

Hartage’s first scoring toss to Mitchell – a 37-yarder in the second quarter – knotted the game at 21. Mitchell finished with nine catches for 117 yards and 2 TDs.

In the third quarter, Adams hooked up with Brent Carr on a 4-yard TD to tie the game at 31.

Lane quarterback Michael Huntley threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. His 20-yard scramble late in the third quarter put the Dragons ahead 38-31.

Then the visitors from Jackson, Tenn., got a defensive stop and, after Henry Tome’s 41-yard punt, took over at the 5.

But the SSU defense came up with big plays and a day that started with rain just before kickoff, eventually had a rainbow overhead.
It was Senior Night and that meant a lot to Clark, a sophomore.

“You don’t lose Homecoming and you don’t lose Senior Night,” Clark said.

And for Kelton’s first season as head coach, a .500 record wasn’t what he wanted, but it was better than what it could have been.

“I feel great. I love these kids,” Kelton said. “We’ve got the program going in the right direction. Do we have a long way to go? Yeah, but we’re going to be right there. We’ll have a great offseason. We’ll have a fun spring, and summer preseason workouts will be here in no time.”

Team Statistics

Game StatsLACSSU
Total Yards490308
Pass Yards172153
Rushing Yards318155
Penalty Yards8-493-20
1st Downs2314
3rd Downs6-144-12
4th Downs0-21-2
SSU12:47 – SSU – Clark,Jordan 21 yd interception (Tome,Henry kick)07
LAC07:03 – LAC – Jones,Jacquez 11 yd pass from Huntley,Michael (Shalz,Noah kick) 12 plays, 74 yards, TOP 05:3577
SSU01:19 – SSU – Adams,Jadon 50 yd run (Tome,Henry kick), 3 plays, 58 yards, TOP 01:03714
LAC11:08 – LAC – Pruitt,Lutrell 9 yd pass from Huntley,Michael (Shalz,Noah kick) 11 plays, 78 yards, TOP 05:001414
LAC09:10 – LAC – Jones,Jacquez 72 yd pass from Huntley,Michael (Shalz,Noah kick) 2 plays, 74 yards, TOP 00:402114
SSU06:44 – SSU – Mitchell,Da’Shun 37 yd pass from Hartage,JT (Tome,Henry kick) 5 plays, 60 yards, TOP 02:212121
LAC04:23 – LAC – Shalz,Noah 32 yd field goal 6 plays, 54 yards, TOP 02:172421
SSU00:00 – SSU – Tome,Henry 34 yd field goal 8 plays, 49 yards, TOP 01:022424
LAC11:06 – LAC – Pruitt,Lutrell 3 yd run (Shalz,Noah kick), 9 plays, 81 yards, TOP 03:473124
SSU04:58 – SSU – Carr,Brent 4 yd pass from Adams,Jadon (Tome,Henry kick) 11 plays, 72 yards, TOP 06:033131
LAC01:30 – LAC – Huntley,Michael 20 yd run (Shalz,Noah kick), 7 plays, 78 yards, TOP 03:233831
SSU13:25 – SSU – Mitchell,Da’Shun 6 yd pass from Hartage,JT (Tome,Henry kick) 3 plays, 9 yards, TOP 01:273838
SSU11:45 – SSU – 0 yd interception ( )3844

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