MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama State rallied from 12-point second-half deficit but could not hang on as a late Southern touchdown with nine seconds remaining gave the Jaguars a 26-23 win.
Despite the loss, Alabama State (7-3 overall, 7-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) is still in contention for the SWAC Eastern Division title. Alabama A&M's loss to Jackson State keeps the Hornets alive for the division crown.
Alabama A&M must lose at Prairie View next week for Alabama State to win the East.
"It was a game that we start off slowly and dug ourselves a hole," head coach Reggie Barlow said. "Southern played well, and played with a lot of confidence. We just didn't get it done."
Trailing 19-7 entering the fourth quarter, Alabama State scored 16 straight points. A Bobby Wenzig 36-yard field goal and Landon Jones' 32-yard touchdown reception on consecutive drives cut the Alabama State deficit to 19-17 with 7:55 to play. The frenzy of the game's final period escalated when the teams then combined to turn the ball over three times in five plays.
Southern fumbled twice in that span, the second recovered by CB Saeed Lee to give Alabama State possession at the Hornets' 27-yard line. QB Greg Jenkins, who entered the game in the third quarter, drove the Hornets 73 yards in nine plays.
Tim Clark's 5-yard touchdown run with 3:07 remaining in the game gave Alabama State a 23-19 lead.
"Greg is a good player," Barlow said. "He's been banged up and hurt. We hate to put him out there when he can't protect himself, but we just felt like we really needed him. The team rallied around him and we were able to score some points, but we just didn't get it done at the end."
However, Southern answered with a 73-yard drive of its own, taking 10 plays to score. After a pair of ASU penalties near the goal line, RB Brian McCain's one-yard touchdown dive was the game-winner for the Jaguars. The Hornets scored first, taking the opening kickoff and marching 53 yards in 11 plays as Clark's one-yard run gave Alabama State a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Leading 7-3, Alabama State appeared on the verge of extending the lead after Edward Mosley forced a fumble that Quin Bohannon recovered at the Southern one-yard line. However, the Hornets lost five yards in three plays and Wenzig missed a 23-yard field goal wide right. Southern scored on its final two drives of the first half to take the lead.