Turnovers, bad field position costly for ASU

MONTGOMERY, AL - Curtis Thomas' 59 yard interception return for a score put the final touches on a Texas Southern 21-7 win over Alabama State University in a Southwestern Athletic Conference game.

For the second game in a row, the Hornets' offense struggled with five turnovers and continually bad field position.

TSU's defense was stellar the whole game and after forcing ASU to punt on their first possession, William Osbourne returned the punt 39 yards to set up TSU's first offensive possession from the ASU 19 yard line.  From there it only took two plays for Martin Gilbert to cover the 19 yards, with the scoring run coming from 12 yards out as TSU took a 7-0 lead a little over two minutes into the game.

The game stayed that way until the second quarter when Rashard Burkett, ASU's third quarterback, hit Nick Andrews across the middle who turned the catch and run into a 67 yard scoring play.  It is the longest offensive play of the year for ASU.

The two teams battled through the rest of the second quarter and hit the locker room even at seven.

The TSU defense was the tale of the second half as ASU continually found itself inside its own five yard line trying to start drives.  Five of ASU's second half possessions started inside the 16 yard line and three of those started on the two yard line.

With the bad field position, ASU's offense was never really able to generate any offense in the second half only managing 53 yards of total offense. That problem kept ASU's defense on the field for most of the second half as TSU's offense was on the field over 20 minutes of the second half alone.  That stat finally wore down the Hornets defense as TSU finally took the lead with an 11 play, 61 yard drive which was capped off by a one yard run by Nelson Arvell with 4:47 left in the game.

The ensuing kickoff just happened to give ASU its best field position of the game, as McFadden, looking to make up for his earlier muff, took the kickoff 44 yards and put ASU in business at its own 48 yard line.  But that did not last long as Thomas intercepted Burkette's pass on the drive's first play and returned it 59 yards for the final score.

There was a good chance this was going to be a defensive struggle as TSU had the second-ranked defense in the SWAC, while ASU had the fourth ranked defense.

TSU held ASU to only 149 yards of total offense, which includes 92 yards passing and 57 yards rushing.  ASU quarterbacks only completed three of their 16 attempts.

ASU's defense did a solid job holding TSU to 362 yards of offense, but a lot of those yards came in the fourth quarter as ASU's defense tired.

"Our defense played great," Head Coach Reggie Barlow said.  "They were out there the entire second half, but played hard until the end.  The way our offense performed along with the bad field position put our defense in bad position's the entire game."

Gilbert led TSU with 87 yards on 21 carries while Nelson completed seven of his 12 pass attempts for 103 yards.

Andrew Pitts gained 52 yards on the ground on 13 carries and Burkette's lone completion to Andrews for 67 yards led ASU in passing.

TSU moves to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference while ASU falls to 3-2 overall and has the same record in the SWAC.