Saturday, November 26, 2016

PLAYOFF CENTRAL: North Greenville vs. Tuskegee

TIGERVILLE, South Carolina -- North Greenville earned the right to move on to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs with a win over Florida Tech on Saturday. The Crusaders now turn their attention to round two and a matchup with the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University.
NORTH GREENVILLE IN THE PLAYOFFS The win over the Panthers on Saturday improved NGU’s playoff record to 3-1 all time and 2-1 in road playoff games. Saturday’s game against the Golden Tigers will be NGU’s second home playoff game after hosting the opening round in 2011 against Albany State, also of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-TIt’s not often that a football team lacking a conference affiliation earns a bid to the NCAA D-II Playoffs. Even more rare is two football teams claiming the independent tag in the field of 28. Even rarer than two independent teams in the field of 28 is two teams in the same region, but don’t tell that to North Greenville and UNC Pembroke. The Crusaders and Braves, both registered independents (at least until the 2018 season when NGU joins the Gulf South) earned the fifth and sixth seeds in this year’s tournament. The two squads also pulled off first round upsets of Gulf South opponents as the Braves downed Valdosta State while NGU knocked off Florida Tech.
MARCH MADNESS OR THE D-II FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS?Saturday afternoon resembled the first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with upsets all over the country. Five lower seeds were victorious in the opening weekend including all three lower seeds in Super Region Two. Also joining in on “Upset Saturday” was Colorado Mines who downed third seeded Southwest Baptist and Indiana PA with an upset win over the fourth seeded Fairmont State in Super Region One.
SURVIVE AND ADVANCETwo familiar opponents await NGU in round three of the playoffs should the Crusaders handle business against the Tigers this weekend. An NGU win over Tuskegee on Saturday would mean a re-match with North Alabama or UNC Pembroke, the first and fifth seeds in the region.
MAKING A NAMENGU redshirt freshman tailback Tracy Scott has quickly become one of NGU’s biggest offensive weapons, but a big game on Saturday would etch his name in North Greenville record books. Should Scott break the 100-yard barrier against the Tigers, he would set a new record for consecutive 100-yard performances with four, while also tying the record for most 100-yards games in a season.
Scott could also set a new record for rushing touchdowns in a season with three against Tuskegee. Should Scott find himself re-writing records on Saturday, the Crusaders should hopefully feel pretty good about their chances to advance to the third round.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN TIGERS North Greenville’s defense faces another tough task this week in the Tuskegee offense. The Golden Tigers are averaging just over 27-points per contest this season while stacking up 353-yards of offense. The Tigers rely heavily on a strong ground game, rushing for 1,598-yards this season on 469 carries compared to just 273 passing attempts. The Tigers have 17-touchdowns on the ground and 22 through the air this season while averaging 208 passing yards.
The Tigers finished the 2016 regular season 8-2 with a first round playoff upset to earn the ninth win. Tuskegee’s defense has been a source of strength for the Tigers as they made their push towards their 10th national championship. Opponents have found little success on the ground against the Golden Tigers, averaging just 113.1-yards per game and just 3.5-yards per carry. Even more impressive is the pass defense for the Tigers, which is holding opponents just 151.4-yards through the air and just eight touchdowns.
PLAYERS TO WATCHGant/Craig/Lacey: Kenny Grant, Jayjerien Craig, and Kevin Lacey has been a three-headed monster for the Golden Tigers this season as all three have turned in 400-yard seasons. The leader of the trio, Kenny Gant has run for 471-yards and two touchdowns while Craig has 460-yards and two scores. Lacey also has two touchdowns on the season and 405-yards.
Kevin Lacey: The do-it-all quarterback is third on the team in rushing, but he has also done some damage through the air. The senior signal caller has thrown for 1,956-yards this season and 17-touchdowns.
Desmond Reece: Desmond Reece is one of three receivers with the bulk of Lacey’s targets. Reece has 842-yards on 49-receptions this season with a team leading nine-touchdowns. Reece has also thrown six interceptions in 255-attempts this season.
Chetham/Gilbert: Javarrius Chetham and Leo Gilbert are second and third one the team in receptions. Chetham has reeled in 28-catches on the season with six touchdowns while Gilbert has 20-receptions and five touchdowns of his own.
Osband Thompson: The team’s leading tackler, Thompson has 123-stops on the season including 10 for a loss and 3.5-sacks.
Daryl George: A name NGU fans hope not to hear very much on Saturday, George leads the Golden Tigers with 7.5 sacks this season from his defensive line spot.
Jonah McCutcheon: McCutcheon is a guy that will have the attention of NGU quarterback Will Hunter and the offensive coaches alike. He is the team leader with three-interceptions The Golden Tigers have 12 picks on the season including two more from Darnell Hill and Eugene Leach.
COVERAGESaturday’s game against the Golden Tigers will be broadcast on the North Greenville Sports Network as well as on 95.5FM The Vibe; NGU’s student run radiobroadcast. Live Stats will also be provided. The links are provided below.
Tickets for Saturday’s game will go on sale two-hours before the game and will be sold in the ticket booth in front of Younts Stadium Prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

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