Two Saturdays into the 2011 season, Alabama A&M was 0-2.
The Bulldogs had blown a 17-0 lead to MEAC foe Hampton in the Chicago Football Classic.
The next week they failed to score a touchdown on the road in a 21-6 loss against Southern, a team that finished 2010 2-9.
It appeared the preseason pundits were justified in picking the Bulldogs to finish fourth in the SWAC Eastern Division.
But Alabama A&M would find a way to get off the mat and win eight of their next nine games to eventually win the division, and play for the conference championship next month after topping Prairie View A&M 17-15 yesterday.
“You have to make it your time,” Bulldogs coach Anthony Jones said prior to Saturday‘s game about seizing a birth in the SWAC championship game.
The Bulldogs (8-3) tied with Alabama State at 7-2 for first place in the SWAC East but won the tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head victory.
Just last week, though, there seemed little hope that Alabama A&M would be playing in Birmingham after Jackson State took them to woodshed 34-6. As the Bulldogs were wrapping their game, Alabama State was leading Southern late in the fourth quarter 23-19. A Jaguars touchdown, however, with nine seconds remaining to give them a 26-23 win, kept the Bulldogs dream alive for one more day.
“We thought it was over,” said Jones after learning the Hornets were winning late. “We were thankful.”
It was not over. The Bulldogs gained a ninth life. They took advantage and are playing for a championship.
Quote of the Week:
“We’re really going to miss him, said Jackson State head coach Rick Comegy about senior quarterback Casey Therriault. “Hopefully we can get another one like him, quick and soon.”
Player of the Week:
Jackson State quarterback Casey Therriault. In his last game as a Tiger, the senior set the school’s season passing yards and total offense record in JSU’s 51-7 win versus Alcorn State.
Week 12 Report Card
Alabama A&M: A
Winning eight of their last nine games send them to the SWAC championship game.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: A
Beating Texas Southern 42-6 gives the Golden Lions a change at a Western Division title.
Alcorn State: F
The Braves’ loss to Jackson State ends a season that will go down as one of the worst in Braves history.
Texas Southern: F
The defending conference champions end the season on a two-game losing streak.
Jackson State: A
What a way to go out for Casey Therriault. He was dazzling all day against Alcorn State setting or tying several school records.
Prairie View: D
The Panthers let a possible title game birth slip through their fingers with a loss to the Bulldogs.