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North Alabama, Tuskegee both preparing for Division II playoff games


The Division II playoffs begin Saturday for two Alabama teams hoping to play each other next week.

North Alabama hosts Newberry and Tuskegee travels to Salisbury, North Carolina, to play Catawba. Both games are scheduled to begin at noon CT.

If both in-state teams advance, they'll face off in the second round.

This marks the 20th time that UNA (8-2) has made the playoffs, tying the Lions with Northwest Missouri State for the most postseason berths in Division II history.

In three of their past four playoff appearances, the Lions have opened against a fellow Gulf South Conference opponent. So UNA coach Bobby Wallace said he welcomes the opportunity to play Newberry of the South Atlantic Conference.

"It's good to be playing someone different. It feels a little bit more like the playoffs because you are playing someone you haven't played before," Wallace said. "The down side is we have to work a little harder as coaches because we don't know a lot about Newberry."

The Wolves (7-4) placed seven players on the All-SAC first team, led by tailback Romelo Doctor, who has rushed for 1,176 yards and six touchdowns.

Tuskegee (8-2) is in the playoffs for the third consecutive year, though the Golden Tigers had to wait an extra week to learn their fate after being upset by Miles in the regular-season finale and missing out on a spot in the SIAC championship game.

Catawba (9-2) won the SAC championship. The Indians are on a seven-game winning streak and have beaten each of their past five opponents by at least 14 points.

Both teams have the defensive player of the year from their respective conferences. Linebacker Jewell Ratliff earned the honor for Tuskegee, while Kyle Kitchens took the award for Catawba.

Alabama State vs. Miles, 3 p.m.

A week after winning the SIAC championship, the Miles Golden Bears wrap up their season by taking on Alabama State in the 92nd Turkey Day Classic in Montgomery.

Miles (7-4) has won six consecutive games since starting the season 1-4, including a 20-7 victory over Albany State in last week's SIAC championship game.

The Hornets (5-5) have won five of their past seven and are trying to avoid their first losing record in six years.

Alabama A&M at Alcorn State, 2 p.m.

After playing in the SWAC championship game six times in 12 years from 2000 to 2011, Alabama A&M (2-7, 2-5 SWAC) is headed for its third consecutive losing season.

The Bulldogs need to beat both Alcorn State (6-3, 5-2) this week and Texas Southern (3-6, 2-6) next week simply to equal the four-win total of each of the past two years.

Jacksonville State vs. Murray State, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville State (9-1, 7-0 Ohio Valley) closes out the regular season against Murray State (3-7, 2-5) before beginning the FCS playoffs next week.

The Gamecocks clinched their fifth OVC championship last week with a 56-28 victory over Southeast Missouri. JSU is ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the STATS FCS poll and the FCS coaches' poll.

Samford at Mercer, 2 p.m.

A winning or losing season will be determined in this game for both Samford (5-5, 2-4 Southern) and Mercer (5-5, 2-4).

The teams have had almost identical seasons so far. They started 2-0, lost five of their next six games, and have won their past two.

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