Sports Contact: J.T. Wilcox, Sports Information Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HIALEAH, FL – ASA Miami head coach Roosevelt Williams' main message all season has been that if his team could minimize its mistakes, he believed his squad could play with any team in the country.
Unfortunately for the Silver Storm, they had more than a handful of mistakes Saturday.
No. 16 ASA Miami turned the ball over five times – four interceptions and a fourth-quarter fumble – and had a pair of special teams gaffes that gifted No. 13 Snow College two points each as the Silver Storm fell 39-23 to the visiting Badgers Saturday afternoon at Ted Hendricks Stadium.
In was a highly anticipated game for the Silver Storm (4-2), who will host Georgia Knights Preparatory Academy next Saturday, given that they entered the game sporting the highest NJCAA ranking the program had ever earned and a victory would've put ASA Miami on the fast track to clinching its first-ever NJCAA bowl game. Instead, the Silver Storm fell into an early hole and spent the entire game playing catch up.
After falling behind 21-7, the Silver Storm got back into the game with an 18-yard touchdown pass to McGriff. But instead of cutting Snow College's lead to seven, the Badgers blocked ASA's extra point attempt and returned it 98 yards for two points – leaving ASA trailing 23-13.
The Silver Storm gifted Snow two more points midway through the third quarter after a Badgers touchdown. ASA returner Rafael Smith fielded the kickoff on his own 3-yard line and allowed his momentum to carry him into the end zone. Smith then took a knee, hoping to signify a touchback, instead the officials awarded Snow College a safety.
ASA Miami fell behind by as large as a 32-13 margin by the end of the third quarter but showed both pride and moxie in the early parts of the fourth quarter.
After pinning the Snow (4-2) offense deep in its own territory, the Silver Storm defense stonewalled the Badgers offense and came up with a safety to cut into the deficit. On the ensuing offensive possession, the Silver Storm capped a 5-play, 58-yard drive with a 34-yard touchdown grab by Justin McGriff – his third of the day – and successful two-point conversion to pull within 32-23 with 12:50 left in the game.
That, however, would be as close as ASA Miami would get.
Snow College stretched its lead back to double-digits with another methodical drive that was punctuated by a 15-yard scoring run to create what would be the final 39-23 margin.
Williams said that his team's mistakes Saturday were magnified because of the quality of the opponent.
"I've been saying, 'we have to minimize our mistakes'…but we didn't do that at all today," Williams said. "[Snow College] is a good team, don't get me wrong, but I feel like the better team didn't win today. We made entirely too many mistakes today and we paid for it."
Both of ASA Miami's quarterbacks struggled Saturday. Freshman Jaeze Tracey completed 12 of his 25 passes for 215 yards with a pair of touchdown passes to McGriff, but also had two passes intercepted. Keanu Kong, who replaced Tracey in the fourth quarter after Tracey threw his second INT, did throw a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter but also had two passes picked off and lost the ball on a strip-sack in his 13 minutes of action.
The Silver Storm's offensive bright spots were McGriff and sophomore running back Evan Burgess. McGriff finished with seven receptions for 121 yards and three scores – all game-highs – getting a thumbs up of approval from former NFL All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, who attended Saturday's game. Burgess carried the ball 21 times for 114 yards but didn't find the end zone.
As stinging as the turnovers and miscues were, the Silver Storm still put together a better showing against Snow College than it did this past season when ASA Miami made the 2,600-mile trek to Ephraim, Utah and was overwhelmed in a 71-27 rout. Save for the turnovers, ASA stood toe-to-toe with the Badgers and made positive plays on both sides of the ball.
Williams said that he will do everything possible to make sure that his team doesn't have a negative hangover following Saturday's loss.
"It's disappointing because I know we weren't the best version of ourselves today," Williams said. "But we have to shake this game off. It's 'next play, next day', we have to move forward and get ready for next week."