ASU looking to repeat history

MONTGOMERY—In 2004 the Alabama State University Hornets won the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship with an exciting 40-35 win over Southern University.  Southern had handed ASU one of its two losses earlier in the season 42-41.

Can history repeat itself as ASU looks to win the SWAC crown against a foe that defeated them in the regular season?

Fast forward to 2010, the Hornets are set to face Texas Southern University in the championship game and TSU was able to pull out a 21-7 victory over ASU back on Oct. 2.  It was a game which saw the two team's battle to a 7-all tie with only 4:47 left in the game.  That is when Nelson Arvell dove in from the one-yard line to give TSU a 14-7 lead.

On ASU's first offensive play following the score, Curtis Thomas stepped in front of an ASU pass and returned the interception 59 yards for the final score.

This game could turn out to be another defensive barn burner.  The Hornets' defense is the top ranked scoring defense in the conference allowing only 19.3 points per game.  TSU is right behind allowing 19.5 points per game.

TSU is at the top of the conference in total defense only allowing 217 yards per game while the ASU defense is third.  TSU leads the SWAC in pass defense and pass defense efficiency while ASU is third in both categories.  ASU leads the SWAC in interceptions (19) while TSU is second (18).  The two teams are also 1-2 in sacks with TSU leading with 42 and the Hornets second with 28.

Offensively, TSU is averaging 26.1 points per game and ASU is averaging 21.1 points per game.  TSU likes to run the football averaging 211.9 yards per game and has rushed for 2,331 yards on the season.  Marcus Wright leads the way with 1,089 yards rushing, good for second in the SWAC.  Nelson has rushed for 529 yards and Martin Gilbert has 470.

TSU averages 389.5 yards per game.  They also average 177.6 yards passing per game.  Nelson leads the way with 1,772 yards passing and nine scores.

The Hornets are averaging 106 yards rushing per game led by Andrew Pitts' 534 yards and four scores.  Quendarius McKibbon has rushed for over 200 yards and a score.

Devin Dominguez has thrown for 1,508 yards and 18 scores while rushing for another four touchdowns.

One area the Hornets have an advantage is in special teams.  ASU averages a SWAC-leading 24 yards per kick return and average 11.8 yards per punt return.  Jacques Rickerson is averaging 17.5 yards per punt return and McKibbon is averaging 27.3 yards per kick return.

Anthony Speight is second in the conference in punting with a 39.2 yards per punt average and ASU leads the SWAC in net punting at almost 35 yards per punt.

Both quarterbacks will find the going tough with the talent in the defensive backfields of both teams.  ASU's Kejaun Riley is tied for the SWAC lead with seven picks and Marcus Solomon has four.  Both Rickerson and Donovan Masline have three picks each.

For TSU Curtis Thomas and Zack Gallow have four picks each and Derricus Purdy has three.

The 2010 Farmers Insurance SWAC Football Championship is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11 at 1:05 p.m.  The game will be played at Legion Field in Birmingham and will be carried live on ESPN Classic.