Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tuskegee and Newberry square off in Round One of NCAA Division II Football Playoffs

NEWBERRY, South Carolina -- For the fourth consecutive year, the Tuskegee University Golden Tigers qualified for the Field of 28 in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Not only are they in the playoff for the fourth consecutive year, but for the third time in four years, they will hit the road to face their opening round opponent in second-seeded Newberry College (10-1).
For the second consecutive season, the Golden Tigers drew a low seed in the Division II playoffs and drew the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) (ET) Saturday afternoon at Setzler Field, on the campus of Newberry, and can be heard on the Tuskegee Digital Network beginning with pregame at 12:45 pm (ET).

Newberry comes into the contest riding a 10-game winning streak after falling to Florida Tech in the opener, 42-28. They defeated eight of the 10 opponents by double digits, with the two exceptions being North Greenville (29-28) and Wingate (27-22). They are led by quarterback Raleigh Yeldell, the SAC Player of the Year, who threw for 3,087 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season. He also ran for 331 more yards and six touchdowns. His favorite target on the year has been Markell Castle with 64 receptions for 863 yards and six touchdowns, while Braxton Ivery has hailed in 54 catches for 605 yards and four touchdowns. Cole Watson has also been on the receiving end from Yeldell, catching 49 passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns.

Tuskegee (8-2) enters the game having won two of their last three games this season, including wins over Central State and Miles. The Golden Tigers are led by eight SIAC All-Conference selections, while also have two of the superlative award winners. Senior quarterback Kevin Lacey, the SIAC Offensive Player of the Year, will look to rebound after his performance against Virginia State in the regular season finale. The senior has thrown for 1,768 yards and 15 touchdowns, with just six interceptions. His three favorite targets include senior tight end Leo Gilbert (18-371-5), sophomore Javarrius Cheatham (24-322-3) and senior Desmond Reece (41-743-9).

Junior Osband Thompson, the SIAC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the Golden Tigers defense which has been among the nation's best all season. This week, the Golden Tigers enter the contest with the fourth best total defense (251.8) and 12th best scoring defense (16.9) in NCAA Division II. The team is also third in first downs allowed (139), second in fourth down conversion percentage defense (0.083), sixth in third down conversion percentage defense (0.267), fifth in team passing efficiency defense (93.50) and second in passing yards allowed (144.5).

Thompson leads the Golden Tigers with 112 total tackles on the year, while fellow linebacker Quavon Taylor (90) and Kalil Gray (51) are second and third on the team in tackles. The Golden Tigers have recorded 76 tackles for loss, with 33 of those via sacks; while also recording 10 interceptions and forcing eight fumbles.

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