Championship game time in SIAC, CIAA

LUT WILLIAMS, BCSP Editor

After ten week’s of regular season play in the CIAA and SIAC, it’s all come down to this!

North Division champ Chowan meets South Division champ Fayetteville State in the CIAA Football Championship game in Salem,Va. Saturday (1 p.m.).

East Division champ Benedict takes on West Division champ Tuskegee in the SIAC Championship game in Columbia, S. C. (2 p.m.).

The BCSP has broken town the championship game match ups this week by their 2022 schedules, history (above and below this story) and their statistics (see STAT CORNER I).

What’s left now are the games to be played and the outcomes to be determined. Those
outcomes will have some bearing on which teams will play on in the Div. II playoffs.

Entering Saturday’s championship games, undefeated Benedict (10-0) is ranked first in Super Region II of NCAA Div. II. Tuskegee is ranked ninth. Neither Fayetteville State or Chowan is ranked in the top ten of the region. Only 9-1 Virginia Union out of the CIAA is in the top ten at fourth. Both the CIAA and SIAC teams are in Super Region II. Only seven teams from each of the nation’s four Super Regions will make the 28-team Div. II championship playoff field.

CIAA Championship Game

This will be the fifth straight trip for Fayetteville State and sixth-year head coach Richard Hayes Jr. to the championship game. Hayes is looking for his first win in the title contest.

Hayes has followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Black College Hall of Famer Bill Hayes, who took five straight teams at Winston-Salem State to the CIAA title game. Like Bill Hayes, who also lost four straight championship game match ups before winning, Richard Hayes hopes to make his fifth trip the charm.

To do so, he’ll have to get more out of his offense that has primarily been playing freshman Caden Davis and redshirt freshman Damari Daniels at quarterback.

Senior Khari Lane who began the season as the starter and was the preseason all-CIAA first team quarterback, has not played much since a 13-10 win over Chowan on Sept. 29. Lane threw three interceptions in the Broncos’ 31-28 loss to Virginia Union a week earlier.

Chowan, meanwhile, has come to life under freshman QB Rashad McKee. Since wins at home over VSU (43-40), at three-time defending conference champion Bowie State (21-15), on the road at then undefeated Virginia Union (26-21) and a closeout 54-8 home win over Elizabeth City State.

Chowan may be slightly favored.

SIAC Championship Game

The storyline for Saturday’s SIAC championship game lies with both coaches – Tuskegee’s Reginald Ruffin and Benedict’s Chennis Berry.

Ruffin, who spent ten years leading Miles of the SIAC before moving over to Tuskegee this season, brought championship tradition with him. At Miles, he led the Golden Bears to four SIAC titles and six West Division titles as the most dominant team in the division. He is returning Tuskegee to the championship game for the first time since 2017.

The much traveled Berry has the Tigers undefeated, nationally ranked (12th in d2.football Top 25, 8th in the AFCA Div. II Coaches Poll), ranked first in Super Region II. and in the SIAC championship game for the first time in program history in only his second year at the helm.

Berry was an assistant at seven HBCUs before getting his first head coaching assignment at Benedict.

Benedict certainly has the edge in terms of how they’ve played this season. But don’t count Ruffin’s troops out.
Other big games

SWAC East Division leader, undefeated and nationally ranked Jackson State (9-0, 6-0 E) is facing Alabama A&M in Mobile, Al. In the hotly contested West, leader 4-3 Prairie View is at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 3-3 Alcorn State hosts Bethune-Cookman, 3-3 Southern hosts Miss. Valley State and 3-3 Texas Southern hosts Grambling.

The topsy-turvey six-team MEAC race has leader NC Central (3-1) at Norfolk State (1- 2), Morgan State (1-2) at Delaware State (2-2) and SC State (1-2) at Howard (2-1).

N. C. A&T (5-3) is tied for first in the Big South at 3-0 with Gardner-Webb. The Aggies have Charleston Southern coming to Greensboro Saturday (12 noon).