ASU gets first SWAC victory

Posted by: Mario Hendricks - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL - The Alabama State football team earned its first Southwestern Athletic Conference victory of the season with an impressive 24-17 win over the Eastern Division leading Alcorn State Braves Saturday at Cramton Bowl.

The Hornets (4-3, 1-3 SWAC) snapped a three-game losing skid while extending their win streak over Alcorn (2-4, 2-2) to seven consecutive games.

Junior quarterback Anthony Speight, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 161 yards in his start of the season, threw a pair of touchdown passes and senior safety Jason Bruce had two interceptions in leading Bama State to the victory.

ASU marched its first possession into scoring range, but Jake King's 34-yard field goal attempt bounce off the right goal post. The Hornet defense held forcing the Braves into a punting situation. Senior Rechard Johnson flashed in from the left side and blocked the Alcorn punt into the arms of teammate Justin Wright, who caught the ball and carried it 10 yards for a touchdown.

Alcorn responded with a 93-yard, 12-play scoring drive of its own to knot the score at seven. Braves' quarterback Tim Buckley, who was 33-of-60 for 355 yards on the day, completed 10 passes on the drive including the six-yard scoring toss to Edward Johnson.

Bama State fumbled the ball on its next possession, when "Wild Hornet" quarterback John Andrews had the ball snapped over his head. However, the ASU defense again stepped up getting the ball back for the offense after holding on a fourth down attempt.

Following the defensive stop, ASU drove the ball 71 yards in 12 plays capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Speight to Nick Andrews.

Bruce collected the first of his interceptions on Alcorn's next drive setting up the Hornets for a 30-yard field goal by King for a 17-7 advantage. ASU closed out the first half scoring with just under two minutes left, when Speight connected with Darius Mathis for an 11-yard score and a 24-7 lead. Nick Andrews had an elusive 32-yard punt return that helped set-up the Hornets final scoring drive.

The third quarter featured a time consuming drive by each squad, but resulted in no points as both teams saw a field goal attempt sail wide right. Alcorn's drive lasted nearly seven minutes consisting of 16 plays while Alabama State went 11 plays over five minutes on the clock.

The Braves made things interesting in the fourth quarter after rallying with 10 points. Alcorn closed the deficit to 24-14 when Buckley and Johnson hooked up from seven yards for their second scoring play of the game with 6:14 remaining. After executing a successful onside kick, Alcorn was unable to mount a drive on the Hornet defense and had to turn the ball over on downs.

After a Bama State punt, Buckley hit Johnson for 61 yards and then found Larry Moore for an 18-yard completion to get Alcorn into scoring position. The drive stalled at the ASU 15-yard line forcing the Braves to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Ryan McMahon and making the score 24-17 with only two minutes left.

Alcorn's next onside kick attempt was fielded by the Hornets. ASU had to punt, but Andrew Lyons kick was covered at the two-yard line forcing the Braves to go 98 yards in the final minute for the win. After moving the ball out to the 35, Buckley's final pass attempt was picked off by Bruce at the 12-yard line to seal the Bama State victory.

For the game, Alcorn State out-gained Alabama State 380 to 304 in total yardage. ASU continued its strong play against the run on defense allowing just 25 yards on the ground. The Hornets offense remained balanced finishing with 143 yards rushing and 185 passing.

Next up for Alabama State is the Magic City Classic next Saturday in Birmingham at 2:30 p.m. The game pits the Hornets against in-state rival Alabama A&M at Legion Field.