By Daily Journal reports
ALBANY, Ga. – Delta State has never faced Albany State in football, but DSU head coach Ron Roberts has a pretty good handle on the challenge his Statesmen will face today.
Roberts’ 13th-ranked Statesmen (9-3) will challenge No. 9 Albany State (11-0) in an NCAA Division II quarterfinal contest that kicks off today at noon.
“Our offense has been outstanding,” Roberts said. “Obviously Albany State has a great defense – No. 1 in the country – so that’s going to be the matchup.”
Albany State has the top-ranked scoring defense in Division II, giving up just 11.6 points per game. Delta State, by contrast, averages almost 34 points per game. Delta State is coming off its best game of the season, routing North Alabama 47-24 in the second round last weekend at home.
“That was the most complete game we put together this year,” Roberts said. “It was an outstanding performance across the board and a total team effort.”
For Delta State to reach the semifinals, the Statesmen will need a repeat performance against the unbeaten Golden Rams, with top-ranked team in the South Central Region.
DES quarterback Micah Davis is capable of producing a big passing performance, but must cut down on interceptions. He has 3,475 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Running back Trevar Deed is 59 yards away from a 1,000 yard rushing season. He has scored 10 touchdowns. Wide receiver L.J. Castille has 52 receptions for 732 yards and nine scores.
They’ll challenge an Albany State defense that’s No. 2 against the run (59.2 yards per game) and against the pass. The Golden Rams are third in total defense, giving up just 217.6 yards per game.
The stakes are high for Albany State, the top-ranked team in the Sheridan Network Poll of Black College teams.
Albany State, the SIAC champion, has never advanced past the D-II quarterfinals. The Golden Rams are 4-11 all-time in the postseason, but relishes playing at home.
It’s the first meeting between the teams in football.
“The home field advantage is a huge deal,” Golden Rams coach Mike White said. “It’s not as big a deal as the regular season. But to have that home-field advantage in the playoffs is huge. It would be different if we had to play Delta on the road.”
The Statesmen have a 10-4 all-time record in the D-II playoffs, but most of their postseason also came at home.
Quarterback Stanley Jenkins, the SIAC’s offensive MVP, is a dual threat for the Golden Rams. He’s thrown for over 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.
“They’re extremely talented, they have a big, physical defense, big physical running backs and a big talented quarterback,” said Roberts. “We’ll have our hands full.”
Today’s winner will advance to meet the winner between Shepherd (11-1) and Mercyhurst (10-2) in a semifinal game next weekend.
Delta State won the D-II national title in 2000 under coach Steve Campbell, who’s now at Gulf Coast Community College.
Contributing: James Jones, Sun-Herald (MCT)