Alabama State's final drive fell just short as Mississippi Valley State escaped with a 10-3 victory Saturday in the Chicago Football Classic at Soldier Field.
The Hornets (3-1, 0-1 SWAC) drove the ball from their own 17-yard line into scoring range in the final two minutes, but Chris Mitchell's last pass slipped out of the hands of a diving Robert Childers in the back corner of the endzone as time expired allowing the Delta Devils (1-2, 1-0) to leave with the win.
"I'm sure it was an exciting game for the fans," said ASU head coach Reggie Barlow. "We just couldn't make a play when we needed to. It shouldn't come down to these plays at the end but we have to learn from this and continue to get better. We talked about getting to the bye week undefeated but unfortunately it just didn't work that way. I thought the defense made some good adjustments in the second half but we just weren't able to get that score we needed."
Mississippi Valley marched their opening drive down the field, but could not get it into the end zone as the ASU defense stiffened near the goal line. MVSU closed its 13-play drive with a 19-yard field goal by Carlos Sanchez.
After trading possessions, Alabama State mounted a game-tying drive early in the second quarter. Jake King connected on a 32-yard field goal with 11:45 left in the half that knotted the score at three. King's kick capped a 13-play, 53-yard drive by ASU.
MVSU answered quickly to retake the lead getting a 44-yard touchdown pass from Paul Roberts to Paul Cox less than two minutes later making the score 10-3. That scored carried to halftime as ASU had a pair of drives thwarted by a turnover and a failed fourth-down attempt.
Defenses dominated the second half with both teams failing to find any offensive continuity. The two teams combined for less than 100 total yards in the third quarter with ASU limiting MVSU to just 22 yards. Mississippi Valley did not move the ball across midfield during the second half.
For the game, the Hornets outgained the Delta Devils 363 to 236 in total offense. ASU held MVSU to just 26 yards rushing on 25 carries. The two squads were virtually even in the air with Bama State holding a slight 218-210 advantage.
Rechard Johnson paced the ASU defense with seven tackles followed by a quartet of players with five stops including Donovan Masline, Adrian Hardy, Anthony Burney and Kynjee Cotton. The Hornets finished with five sacks and nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Rahmod Traylor carried the ball 14 times for 91 yards to pace the ASU ground attack. Mitchell rushed for 48 yards while finishing 18-for-32 for 218 yards passing. Nick Andrews (78 yards) and Darius Mathis (55 yards) each collected five catches for the Hornets.
Roberts was 20-of-34 passing in leading MVSU. Christopher Williams had seven catches to lead all receivers on the night.