MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Thursday marked the 95th annual Turkey Day Classic for the Alabama State Hornets and it was celebrated with a win for Donald Hill-Eley and his team over opponent Mississippi Valley State. The Hornets (4-7, 3-4) finished the 2018 season with a 31-24 overtime win over the Delta Devils (1-10, 1-6).
Looking to win their sixth consecutive Turkey Day Classic, the Hornets were scoring early on.
It was the Michael Jefferson show in the first half of the Turkey Day Classic. Jefferson caught two touchdowns in the game’s first 30 minutes, the second coming on a 4th and goal play from the 3.
KHA’Darris Davis found Jefferson across the middle and Jefferson held on to the ball after taking a hit, celebrating by slam-dunking the ball through the goalposts. The score came with 8:35 to play in the second quarter and put the Hornets ahead 14-7.
The Delta Devils didn’t flinch though. The very next drive resulted in a 10-play, 58-yard touchdown drive to even the score with 5:04 left on the first-half ticker.
That score would sit into the break. The second half would be much like the first, a back-and-forth affair.
Defensive back Dennis Roberts IV came up with a huge interception for the Hornets to stop a Mississippi Valley State drive that was poised to end in a touchdown. Roberts stepped in front of a pass and intercepted it in the end zone to end the Delta Devil’s opening drive of the second half.
That interception would only slow down the Delta Devils temporarily. The Hornet offense would punt the ball back over to Mississippi Valley State and the Delta Devils would turn that into a touchdown to take a 21-14 lead in ASU Stadium.
It was a 92-yard scoring drive in which Mississippi Valley State ran the ball 9 of the 13 plays. It was capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Booker Chambers to Stetson Moore with 6:06 remaining in the third.
The Delta Devils would push the lead to 10 when they couldn’t punch it in in the red zone, but instead settle for a field goal with 1:15 to play in the third quarter.
With a five-game Turkey Day Classic winning streak on the line, the Hornets didn’t fold.
The first play of the fourth quarter was a good one for the ASU defense. Mississippi Valley State quarterback Bryant Dejerric fumbled the hand-off and ASU defender Daymon Williams recovered and the ASU offense was in business, taking over at the MVSU 49.
Down 10, the Hornets were looking to answer the turnover. And answer they did. Receiver Joe Williams IV hauled in a 27-yard pass for a touchdown, and the Hornets were back to within three, trailing 24-21 with 14:25 remaining in the game.
The Hornets were nearly about to score moments later in the fourth. On the goal line, running back Taleisn Farmer took the carry and looked to stretch across the plane when he fumbled the ball and an MVSU defender recovered.
Luckily, nothing serious transpired after the fumble as ASU forced the Delta Devils to punt it away and the Hornets took over at their own 43 with 5:15 to play in the game.
Hunter Hanson tied the knotted the game at 24 with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter and the ball was now in the Delta Devil court.
Kimar Martin would send the game into overtime after he collected the third turnover of the second half for the ASU defense. Martin intercepted the Bryant’s pass at the ASU 12 with 32 seconds remaining in regulation.
In overtime, the third such game of the season for the Hornets, ASU opened with the ball.
Jeremiah Hixon got the Hornets on the board in a big way on ASU’s possession. Hixon took the sweep toss six yards and dove into the end zone for the score and the Hornets were ahead 31-24.
Mississippi Valley State got their chance to with the ball. With their chance, the Delta Devils were pushed into a long 3rd and 15 after the first two plays. The third down pass fell incomplete. On fourth down, Bryant dropped back for the pass and was sacked to end the game.
The Hornets closed their season out with their sixth-straight Turkey Day Classic victory and set their season-high for points scored in a game. It also capped their third overtime win in as many tries.