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ncaa_football_logoby Lut Williams
BCSP Special to Onnidan

Albany State senior running back Lironne Davs scored one rushing touchdown and another on a pass but perhaps saved his best heroics for last as the top-seeded Golden Rams (11-0) survived against fourth-seed Wingate 30-28 in a  NCAA Div. II Super Region II semifinal playoff game in Albany, Ga. Saturday afternoon.

The burly running back grabbed an on-sides kick and ran it down to the Wingate 3-yard line with just over a minute-and-a-half to play. With Wingate (9-3) out of timeouts, the Golden Rams kneeled down four times until the clock ran out advancing them to a regional final match-up next week in Albany against Delta State.

Davis¹s recovery gem came just after Wingate had scored an improbable touchdown with just under two minutes left to pull within one-point. Facing a 4th-and-20 from its own 20, Wingate connected on a hook-and-lateral play that covered 78 yards and carried all the way to the ASU 2-yard line. A play later, Wingate quarterback Cody Haffly hit Mark Clyburn for a touchdown.

After R. P. Lopez¹s PAT kick, the Panthers trailed 28-27 with 1:59 left.

Davis make his game-saving play on the ensuing kickoff.

For the game, Davis carried nine times for a game-high 90 yards. He scored Albany State¹s only second half touchdown on a 45-yard run, capping an 8-play, 90-yard drive that put the Rams up 30-21 with 6:21 to play. He also had a key score just before the half when he hauled in a 13-yard pass from ASU QB Stanley Jennings 14 seconds before the break to give the Rams a 23-14 halftime edge.

ASU had gotten on the board on its first possession after picking off the prolific Haffly, who had thrown for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns in last week¹s first round win over Morehouse. Quinton Nelson got the pick at the Wingate 42 on the Panthers¹ fifth play from scrimmage. The Rams needed eight plays to score. The TD came on a 16-yard pass from Jennings to a wide open Ronnie Childs. Brand Hamilton¹s PAT gave ASU a 7-0 lead with 9:01 to play in the opening period.

In just three plays and 46 seconds, Wingate tied the score. Haffly hit Chris Bowden from 43 yards out for the TD. Lopez added the PAT to tie the score at 7.

On its ensuing possession, ASU took the lead for good. Hamilton connected on a 38-yard field goal at the end of a 9-play, 61-yard drive that consumed just under five minutes and put ASU up 10-7. After forcing a Wingate punt, the Rams added to the lead as they marched 52 yards in six plays capped by Rodrick Nabors¹ one-yard TD plunge. The PAT kick was no good leaving the Rams up 16-7 with 11:29 left in the second quarter.

Wingate cut the lead to 16-14 on its next possession. Haffly scored from one yard capping an 8-play, 45-yard drive.

From there it was Davis who made the deciding plays.

Haffly threw for 303 yards and three TDs, completing 20 of 41 passes but was picked off three times and sacked four times by the Golden Rams¹ nationally-ranked defense. Wingate rushed for just 39 yards on 30 attempts.

ASU rushed for 186 yards with Nabors getting 55 yards on four carries to complement Davis. Robert Welton was the workhorse, adding 46 yards on 17 carries. Jennings hit on 11 of 20 passes for 145 yards and two scores but was picked off twice.

Delta State (9-3) defeated North Alabama 47-24 Saturday to advance to meet Albany State next week.


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