By Barry Allen
MONTGOMERY – Emanuel Wilson ran wild on Sunday night.
The Fort Valley State redshirt junior running back ran for 262 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 21-6 win over Tuskegee in the second annual Boeing Red Tails Classic at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
As impressive as he was on Sunday, it wasn’t his best collegiate effort.
He ran for 269 yards against Benedict in his second collegiate football game at Johnson C. Smith in 2019.
Wilson, who is one of the top rated HBCU players in the upcoming NFL Draft, had eight runs of 10 or more yards and averaged an eye-pooping 13.1 yards per carry on 20 attempts.
He sealed the game and earned MVP honors with his 87-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 21-6.
“The game plan was get (Emanuel) the ball and let him make plays,” FVSU first-year head Shawn Gibbs said. “He showed that he can make the plays. He’s got a great future.”
As a team, FVSU (1-0) ran the ball 35 times for 325 yards and three touchdowns. The Wildcats averaged 9.6 yards per rush. In addition to Wilson, freshman quarterback Kelvin Durham ran eight times for 39 yards and one TD. Sophomore Kentrelle Williams added 29 yards on six carries.
“We did some good things on defense,” Tuskegee head coach Reginald Ruffin said. “We had some breakdowns and gave up some long runs. (Wilson) is an outstanding running back.”
Wilson set the tone early with three carries on the opening drive, including a 27-yard burst that set up the Wildcats first touchdown. He converted a third-and-six with 6-yard run and then ripped off a 27-yard run to put FVSU in the red zone. Durham capped the 6-play, 65-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 7-0 with 9:16 left in the first quarter.
On the next touchdown drive, Wilson ripped off a 28-yard run to put the ball at the Tuskegee 32-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Wilson finished off the drive with straight runs of 18, 17 and three yards to cap the 98-yard drive. Wilson’s 3-yard TD run made it 14-0 with 9:33 left in the first half.
Tuskegee (0-1) answered with its lone touchdown of the game when sophomore Ryan Nettles fired a 10-yard pass to Jordan Ogletree to cut the lead to 14-6 with 6:40 left in the half. FVSU freshman Will Riggins blocked the extra point.
Nettles completed 15-of-24 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown in the loss. Senior running back Donte Edwards led the Tigers with 80 yards rushing. Freshman Corey Petty and sophomore Rodricus Magee led Tuskegee with for catches each.
The Fort Valley State defense made the first big play of the game as senior rover Tyler Moore thwarted Golden Tigers opening drive with 25-yard interception return from inside the FVSU 10-yard line.
“I am proud of our guys,” Gibbs said. “I told them to play fast and physical and we did that.”
Both teams were a little sloppy in the season opener.
Fort Valley State (13-146) and Tuskegee (9-100) combined for 23 penalties for 246 yards.
FVSU will host Kentucky State this Saturday at 1 p.m. (ET), while Tuskegee will travel to Hampton for a 5 p.m. (ET) kickoff.
The two teams will return for the third annual Boeing Red Tails Classic next season on Labor Day weekend.
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