Texas Southern was one win away from its best finish since 2016. Alabama State ended those hopes capitalizing on three major second-half mistakes to defeat the Tigers 24-21 on Saturday afternoon.
The gloriously blue Montgomery skies hinted at the amazing contest at ASU Stadium. Mistakes aside Texas Southern and Alabama State showed glimpses of two programs with lots of promise.
The outcome of any football game can be reduced to about three to five plays in one or all three phases (offense, defense, special teams).
Tigers quarterback Andrew Body (Bow-dee) laid it all out on the field. The true freshman from Corpus Christi, Texas passed for 163 yards and rushed for a team-high 134 yards.
Body’s 46-yard pass to Ke’Lenn Davis set up the Tigers’ first touchdown. A second pass to Davis drew a 15-yard pass interference call and a first down at the 4. Body used his legs to finish off the drive and tie the score at 7.
Hunter Hanson’s 47-yard field goal gave the Hornets a slim lead to start the third quarter. It didn’t last long.
A 55-yard run by Body on third and 7 gave the Tigers new life inside the red zone. Body turned to sophomore running back, LaDarius Owens for most of the remaining yardage. Owens carried three times picking up a first down, a touchdown, and the lead (14-10).
Alabama State was unable to answer on offense, so it turned to its special teams unit. Brandon McDuffie blocked Evan Sawyer’s punt and teammate Robert Rivers caught it in the air on a dead sprint into the end zone. Mistake 1.
Momentum restored. Yeah right.
Another pair of huge runs by Body and the Tigers once again stared at a potential scoring opportunity from 30 yards away. Somehow the Hornets’ defense lost track of Jonathan Giles on the next play. Body found the transfer from LSU completely alone -except for the Side Judge- in the end zone for the go-ahead and what could have been the winning touchdown.
Texas Southern’s sideline made the next mistake. With over seven minutes remaining, the Tigers decided to try and convert fourth and short at their 29-yard line. In the words of Scooby Doo, “Ruh Roh”. The Hornets’ defense stopped Michael Badejo for no gain giving their offense a short field to work with.
Joe Owens, Jr’s third pass found Wallace Corker open in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Unbothered and with plenty of time remaining on the clock, the Tigers marched to the Hornets 28 yard line in under 3 minutes. What happened after that is a story of regret. Texas Southern needed 4 yards for a first down and opted to set up for a game-tying 43-yard field goal. The field goal attempt was a ruse to draw the Hornets’ defense off-sides. Had the ploy worked the Tigers would have had a fresh set of downs. Instead, the whistle and the yellow flag went against the Tigers. The penalty added five yards to the field goal attempt. Mistake 3. Richard Garcia’s kick was straight and strong enough to clear the crossbar from 43 yards but not 48.
Texas Southern will have to wait until 2022 to get their next opportunity for a win. Alabama State will face in-state rival Tuskegee on Thanksgiving in the Turkey Day Classic.
Game Photo Gallery
All images by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports