MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Call it the Michael Jefferson game as Alabama State comes out the victor for the second year in a row in the Labor Day Classic game against Tuskegee. Jefferson pulled down three touchdowns as the Hornets (1-1) held off the Golden Tigers (0-1) 38-31 in ASU Stadium.
It was a shootout with both teams combining for 41 points in the first half. ASU trailed 21-20 going into the break but it was a back-and-forth tug of war between both teams.
Tuskegee capitalized of an opening drive interception thrown by Hornets quarterback KHA’Darris Davis. The Golden Tigers turned that into a five-play touchdown drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Jamarcus Ezell to Peyton Ramzy.
No matter. Superman was in the building for Alabama State in the form of Michael Jefferson. Jefferson tied things at 7 with his first touchdown reception, a 19-yarder on the final play of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Jefferson put ASU ahead with his second touchdown reception. This one was a 43-yard reception on the pass from Davis.
It looked like Alabama State might run away with it. After last year’s game that was so close and needed overtime to decide things, the Golden Tigers were in danger of falling behind 21-7 potentially had it not been for a key penalty on the Alabama State defense.
On the drive following Jefferson’s touchdown reception, the Hornets defense looked to have forced a strip-sack fumble that was eventually recovered in the end zone by the ASU defense. The initial call on the field was a touchdown for Donald Hill-Eley’s team, but a late flag on the play nullified the momentary success. An illegal hands to the face call against Alabama State gave Tuskegee new life in the form of an automatic first down.
The Golden Tigers used that new life to punch it in on the goal line. Taurean Taylor rushed in for the score and the game was knotted at 14 after the extra point.
But Davis was a touchdown machine. He three three of his four touchdown passes to Jefferson. The other was a 26-yard strike to Jeremiah Hixon that put ASU up 20-14. Hunter Hanson missed the extra point and the lead was held to six. Davis finished the game with 347 passing yards, completing 20 of his 30 passes.
Taylor answered the call again for Tuskegee, this time scampering in from 6-yards out to even the game at 20. The extra point gave Tuskegee back the lead.
Halftime hit and both teams looked to assess and make changes. It worked for the most part as the second half was a much slower-paced half.
Tuskegee and Alabama State traded field goals to open the half, but then Tuskegee looked to have stolen the momentum back when Devan Valcin returned Hanson’s kickoff 99 yards for a Golden Tigers touchdown. Tuskegee had gained a 31-23 lead, but the Hornets weren’t done yet.
Duran Bell had a long touchdown run in Alabama State’s opening game against UAB last Thursday and had another one Saturday in the Labor Day Classic. Bell took the handoff out of the shotgun and broke off a 50-yard run to pull the Hornets back into the game. Bell then cashed in on the two-point conversion to tie the game halfway through the third quarter.
When Alabama State needed another big play Davis hit up his favorite target in Jefferson. The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Mobile pulled took a pass 82 yards for the score to give Alabama State a 38-31 lead after Hanson’s extra point.
Both teams went back and forth from that point on until late in the fourth quarter. Alabama State was able to force a Tuskegee punt and if they could pick up even one first down the game was over. Enter sandman.
Jefferson iced the game with a huge catch to give ASU a first down. It was just a second down play, but the score was 38-31 at the time. His reception allowed the Hornets to go into safe mode and kneel the clock out for the win. That catch put him over 150 yards for the game as he’d finish with 174 on five receptions. Hixon went for 116 on eight receptions for ASU.
Ezell was replaced later by Ahmad Deramus, who finsihed with 177 passing yards. Ramzy finished with 108 receiving yards to lead the Golden Tigers.
Next up for Alabama State is a date with Kennesaw State next Saturday. That game will kick off at 5 p.m. from ASU Stadium.
Tuskegee has Kentucky State on the road in Frankfort. That game will kick at 3 p.m.