MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama State Hornets have renewed confidence in their season after defeating SWAC opponent Texas Southern 30-21 last Saturday.
The 30 points put up by the Hornets were the most scored in a game this season, and the win was much needed.
“Last week’s game against Texas Southern was a game we needed to win to stay in the race,” said Alabama State head coach Donald Hill-Eley.
The defeat of Texas Southern evened the Alabama State SWAC Conference record to 2-2. A win over Jackson State this Saturday would push them to 3-2.
“This game coming up against Jackson State is even bigger as we continue to go through our conference games,” said Eley.
The Hornets aren’t in the driver’s seat, but they’re not out of the race either. A message Eley said he’s been telling his team.
“I’ve been telling the players, we’re in the race until the last conference game,” said Eley. “We have to play Jackson State this week and nothing else matters unless we beat Jackson State.”
It’s Homecoming week for the Hornets, which means another home game for Alabama State, something that’s been rare for them this season. Saturday’s game will be just the third home game this season for ASU, and it’s something the team appreciates.
“It felt good to have your crowd behind you, hearing your band, to see the support.... It had been two months since we had the opportunity to play in front of our own fans,” said Eley who also said last Saturday’s Texas Southern match-up almost felt like an away game.
But now that the Hornets are back at home and have momentum with an even conference record, ASU’s head coach said he’s looking for his team to continue to respond. Eley said he knows they’ve been up against a lot of tough opponents to this point and haven’t been able to respond.
One key that will help against the Tigers of Jackson State is the defense cutting down on the number of big plays. Against Texas Southern, Eley cited the defense allowed two big plays which led to touchdowns.
Jackson State’s season is going much like ASU’s did a year ago. Mid-season, the Tigers have made a head coaching change, replacing former head coach Tony Hughes with defensive coordinator John Hendrick.
Despite the change, Eley said only a few things will matter come Saturday.
“The team that goes out makes their plays, cut down on penalties and don’t turn the football over will win," he said.
Jackson State will enter the competition at 4-4 overall against the Hornets, who are looking to improve to 4-5. Kickoff between the two schools is set for 2 p.m.