Indianapolis, Ind. – Alabama A&M made a strong bid Saturday to end Tuskegeeâ€™s grip on the nationâ€™s longest winning streak, but the Bulldogs lost 34-24 in the Circle City Classic, held for the first time at Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts.Â Converted wide receiver / tight end, senior Gerald Stockdale replaced injured quarterback Kevin Atkins for A&M and led the Bulldogs to 17 fourth quarter points, but the rally came up just short.Â The Golden Tigers extended their winning streak to 21 games.
Tuskegee struck first before many of the announced crowd of 47,273 had even gotten to their seats. In building a 13-0 lead, the Tigers took the opening possession 60 yards in three plays with quarterback Jacary Atkinson running for a 38-yard touchdown just 1:16 into the game.Â The point after failed.Â Atkinson ended the first quarter with another score, this time a 14-yard pass to Jason English with :57 remaining.
Alabama A&M responded with a 10-play, 63-yard drive, and Ulysses Banks capped it with a four-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 13-7 with 11:55 to play in the first half. During the drive, though, A&M quarterback tweaked his left ankle while scrambling for an 18-yard gain that set up the score.Â Atkins would stay in the game at that point, but have to leave the game after the first possession of the third quarter. Enter Stockdale, who was 2-3 for 97 yards and one touchdown in his A&M passing career before Saturday, but none of those completions came while lined up at quarterback.Â A&M turned it over on downs on his first possession, but after that, Stockdale consistently moved the Bulldogs into scoring opportunities
Still trailing 13-7 Stockdale hit Nate Baxter on a fade route that seemed to tie the game and give A&M a chance for the lead.Â Officials ruled, however, that Baxter was out of bounds on the catch, and A&M settled for a 30-yard Jeremy Licea field goal with 13:29 left in the third.Â Replays confirmed that A&M should have been awarded a touchdown on the play. The field goal was Liceaâ€™s ninth make in nine attempts this season, which leads the NCAA, but left the Bulldogs trailing 13-10. The Golden Tigers answered with another big run by Atkinson to set up his two-yard plunge to give Tuskegee a 20-10 lead with 11:40 to play. Three plays later, Stockdale had the Bulldogs in the end zone, hooking up with Thomas Harris on a spectacular 57-yard touchdown.Â Harris broke two tackles and spun away from another defender to break open on the play.Â AAMU had cut the lead to 20-17 with 9:54 remaining. Harris finished with six catches for 93 yards.
Tuskegee again had an answer. John Pascley capped a nine-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run to again push the lead to 10 points, 27-17, with 5:01 left in the game. Yet again, the Bulldogs had a response.Â Stockdale found Baxter for a 35-yard touchdown at the 2:25 mark.Â Baxter finished with six catches for 103 yards and the one score.Â Stockdale finished 15-25 for 231 yards and two scores.
Alabama A&Mâ€™s on-side kickoff attempt sailed out of bounds, and Pascley broke a third-and-two play where A&M needed a defensive stop into a 52-yard touchdown run with 1:56 remaining to seemingly ice the game away for the Golden Tigers.
Alabama A&M had some more fight in them, but after moving to the TU four-yard-line, Stockdaleâ€™s fourth down pass went through Baxterâ€™s hands in the end zone and TU ran our the clock from there.
The loss drops A&M to 2-4 overall heading into next Saturdayâ€™s homecoming showdown with Grambling. The Bulldogs remain 1-0 in the SWAC.