Central State endures another home loss

WILBERORCE – Micah Lowe was near tears.

The Central State wide receiver had just made an adjust-in-mid-air 37-yard catch that took the ball to the Miles College 12-yard line, but in an instant it didn’t matter.

The head official, who was keeping the time on the field since the scoreboard clock wasn’t working, simply announced the game was over.

And just like that Central State has lost its third game in a row, falling 34-14 to Miles at McPherson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Lowe drifted toward midfield, well behind his teammates who had congregated in front of the band which plays the CSU alma mater after every game.

Before the music had begun on this day, the Marauders took some guff from a few Miles players who had filed through the postgame handshake line and then lingered to taunt the CSU players. Finally, several Golden Bear coaches shoved them off the field and toward their busses for the victory ride back to Alabama.

This was all too much for Lowe. This was supposed to be an afternoon of tribute for him.

A pad fastened to his back, just below the No. 26 on his gold and maroon jersey, read: “Free Clowe… R.I.P. My Angel.”

“That’s for all my family and loved ones I’ve lost,” he said quietly. “And it’s for my older brother who’s in the penitentiary. I wanted to honor them.”

But these days CSU players are finding little to celebrate at McPherson Stadium.

Before last season – thanks to a $1 million gift from Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier and his Honey Bear Project --- a beautiful new synthetic turf playing surface, complete with a large, colorful Marauder head at midfield and bright, painted end zones, was put in.

It replaced the pot-holed, grass challenged field that had been in the 72-year-old stadium.

There was a gala dedication at Homecoming that Lanier attended. The Marauders not only lost that game, but they’ve lost every game – five now – that they’ve played on the new field.

In fact, they haven’t won at home in 35 months, not since they beat Miles 15-13 on October 26, 2019.

The figure is a little misleading since the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, but the long drought was on the mind of new CSU head coach Kevin Porter after Saturday’s loss.

“We haven’t won a football game here at home in over 1,000 days, which is a Iong time,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to break that.

“Playing at home should be an advantage. You get to sleep in your own bed and the other team has to travel. They have to spend time away from their comfort zone and we’re at home.

“They call it home field advantage for a reason. We’ve got to be able to give our fans, our community what they want and deserve – which is a program that represent them well and wins football games at home.”

Saturday that wasn’t going to happen for a Marauder team that self-destructed with six fumbles, three of which it lost, and 14 penalties for 126 yards.

Asked if the new field seemed cursed, linebacker Jalil Lenore shook his head:

“I don’t believe in curses. I’m not going to say there’s a curse here.”

He had provided the Marauders with one of their only bright spots when he intercepted a Miles pass late in the third quarter and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown.

“It doesn’t matter where we’re playing. We could be playing in a parking lot. If we keep messing up the game doing the thing that we’re doing and there’s all that discipline stuff, it doesn’t matter where we’re at. We’re not gonna get the dub (win.)

“The field’s not cursed. We’re doing it to ourselves.”

There does seem to be a bit of a dark cloud over the Marauders though. As the alma mater was being sung, there was CSU’s defensive All American Kailen Abrams on crutches, a big brace on his knee.

He’s lost for the season after tearing is meniscus and ACL in his right knee during last week’s game at Bluefield State. He’ll have surgery on Friday. A year ago he was lost in game three when he suffered a similar injury to his left knee.

Not far from him was starting quarterback Brandon Kyle, who was injured while being sacked in the second quarter. The Marauders used two backup quarterbacks – Stephon Thomas and Kendall Boney – and they got roughed up, too.

As his teammates sang, Lowe just bowed his head and fought the tears. Finally, offensive coordinator Buddy Blevins came over and wrapped an arm around him to calm him.

When the music finally stopped and the only part of the scoreboard that was turned on – the final score burning brightly with Marauder defeat – Lowe headed slowly for the dressing room.

“I know we’ve got a good team,” he said softly. “But we just got to believe it. And right now that’s not easy.”

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