Greg Ruffin knew Paine’s first season would be tough.
And the program’s first team in 52 years has struggled (1-8, 0-6 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), but he couldn’t have known that opponents would return nine interceptions for touchdowns.
“We’ve thrown a pick six in just about every game,” Ruffin said. “Teams can stay close and say to themselves, ‘If you want to beat Paine, hold on a minute. Paine has done a good job beating themselves.’ ”
If that’s not enough, two fumbles have been returned for scores, Paine quarterbacks have been sacked 39 times and thrown 23 interceptions.
At least one interception has been returned for a touchdown in all but two games, and in one of those, a fumble was returned for a score.
Lane took two interceptions back for scores in an 18-16 victory on Sept. 20, but the worst might have come against Limestone, which returned two interceptions and a fumble for touchdowns in a 47-30 victory on Oct. 11.
“We stink right now,” Ruffin said. “I don’t have any great words, adjectives, to describe how we’re playing offensively. Going forward, we’re going to get this fixed.”
No Small feat
Jarvis Small (Brunswick) didn’t start the season on Albany State’s two-deep depth chart and rushed for 3 yards in the opener.
He hasn’t been held to less than 100 in a game since, and is the SIAC’s co-offensive player of the week after rushing for 234 yards and four touchdowns in a victory over Benedict.
The Golden Rams (6-2, 6-0 SIAC) have won six consecutive games and clinched a spot in the conference championship game on Nov. 15.
Small leads the SIAC with 989 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“He’s maxing out all of his runs, really. When he gets one-on-one, he’s hard to tackle” coach Mike White said. “That’s where the success comes from. He’s a tough kid. He’s a hard-working kid, the kind of kid you cheer for, knowing how he is. He’s a regular guy, not fast, not anything other than just a good solid running back.”
Morehouse (5-4, 3-3 SIAC) lost three consecutive games while quarterback Monqavious Johnson (M.L. King) was out with an ankle injury.
He returned to throw for 135 yards and two touchdowns and rush for 82 yards in a 24-21 victory over Fort Valley State.
“We finally got our team back together,” coach Rich Freeman said. “We hadn’t played with a full team in the last three weeks.”
Around the state
Mercer freshman Chandler Curtis (Calhoun) has four touchdown returns (three punts and a kickoff) this season to lead the FCS. … Valdosta State gave up its first touchdown in more than 14 quarters, dating to Sept. 27, when West Alabama scored 4 minutes into the third quarter of the Blazers’ victory on Saturday. Valdosta State allowed a combined 12 points in victories over West Georgia, Mississippi College and Shorter in October. … Berry safety Jackson Putnam (Dawson County) had two interceptions and forced a fumble in a loss to Millsaps. … Clark Atlanta linebacker Bre’nard Williams (Tift County) had 18 tackles, two sacks and returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers’ win over Paine. … LaGrange receiver Ervens Oge (Pierce County) set a school record for career receiving yards with 1,317 and fellow receiver Griffin Roelle (Lassiter) broke the single-season receptions mark of 59 that he set in 2013. Roelle has 61 this year. … Clark Atlanta coach Kevin Weston on quarterback Trenton Earl (Stockbridge), who accounted for 238 yards of offense and two touchdowns in a win over Paine: “I’m real proud of the day he had. He grew up as an option quarterback.”
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Point at Ave Maria, 1 p.m.
Reinhardt at Cumberland, 1 p.m.
Valdosta State at UNC Pembroke, 1 p.m.
Florida Tech at West Georgia, 2 p.m.
Albany State vs. Fort Valley State (at Columbus), 2 p.m.
Clark Atlanta at Stillman, 2 p.m.
Kentucky State at Morehouse, 2 p.m.
Benedict at Paine, 2 p.m.
Berry at Sewanee, 2:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern at Texas State, 4 p.m.
Shorter at North Alabama, 4 p.m.
Howard at Savannah State, 6 p.m.
Georgia Military College vs. Lackawanna (Morgantown, W.Va.), 1 p.m.