Jahaad Coleman’s 78 yard touchdown run with 1:32 left in the game gave Alabama State the cushion they needed in a 41-28 win over Stillman College in the 90th edition of the Turkey Day Classic.
“The Turkey Day Classic is always a special game to be a part of,” Head Coach Reggie Barlow said. “We knew coming into the game when you are playing a team that is not in your conference you’re not going to know a lot about them. You’re going to be learning about them on the fly.”
“We started off a little slow and weren’t playing the way we wanted to play, but all-in-all we found a way to win.”
Coleman, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Offensive Player, finished the game with career-highs in carries (17), yards (150) and touchdowns (2). He averaged 8.8 yards per carry as helped ASU finish with 306 yards rushing for the game.
Freshman running back Khalid Thomas also had a career-night running the football as he carried the ball 18 times for 82 yards. He also had a long run of 19 yards, all career-highs.
“Jahaad Coleman stepped up and without Malcolm Cyrus being able to go and without Crowell being 100 percent our young running backs stepped up and made some plays for us,” Barlow said. “It was an ugly 41 points but we will take it and we are proud of the victory.”
Daniel Duhart completed 15 of his 27 passes for 186 yards and two scores. Along with the rushing yards ASU finished the game with 492 total yards.
Defensively, Kourtney Berry, Leland Baker and Deandra Rashada all finished with eight stops each. Berry, who was named the Defensive Player of the Game, also had a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.
“I thought our defense played outstanding again,” Barlow said. “We put them in a couple of bad situations, but they stepped up and made plays.”
“Every time you think you have seen Berry do something good, he does even better. I don’t know how many tackles he had tonight but he was all over the field. We are looking forward to him getting even better over the next three years.”
Stillman did a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly in passing situations, as the Hornets had a season-low two sacks, but again Stillman only rushed for 126 yards and 30 of those yards came in the final drive when the quarterback was scrambling away from ASU’s rush.
ASU actually had to come from behind after Stillman scored two touchdowns in 15 seconds early in the third quarter. ASU came out of the halftime locker room with a 21-14 lead. That changed when Stillman quarterback Torrance Moise hit Dondre Purnell from 77 yards out on the third play of the second half.
After kicking off to ASU Greg Abrams intercepted Duhart on the next offensive play and returned the pick 33 yards for a score and a Stillman 28-21 lead.
ASU came right back down the field to even the score at 28 when Duhart lofted a pass up in the endzone and the Hornets 6’4″ tight end Brandon Barnes out jumped the defenders for the ball and the score.
Bobby Wenzig added two field goals over the next two possessions for ASU. The first came from 19 yards out and gave ASU a 31-28 lead, which they would never relinquish. Wenzig’s next field goal came on ASU’s following possession, which also was the first possession of the fourth quarter. This one came from 26 yards out and gave the Hornets a 34-28 lead.
The score stayed that way until Coleman’s game deciding run with less than two minutes left in the game.
ASU went into halftime with a 21-14 lead after putting together three scoring drives. After holding Stillman to a punt on the game’s first possession, the Hornets took their first possession 55 yards in 10 plays with Jahaad Coleman going in from nine yards out to give ASU an early 7-0 lead. It was the first touchdown of Coleman’s career.
The Hornets pushed the lead to 14-0 after recovering a Tiger fumble on their 37 yard line. ASU proceeded to go 63 yards in six plays with the final 17 yards covered by a pass from Duhart to Jamel Johnson. It was Johnson’s fourth consecutive game catching a touchdown pass.
That 14 point lead was cut in half on the next kick off as Stillman’s Purnell dropped the ball, but was able to pick it back up and weave through ASU for a 90 yard return to cut the lead to 14-7.
Stillman scored first in the second quarter to even the score when Emmanuel Cromuel picked up a Duhart fumble on the two yard line and went in for the score.
After an exchange of punts ASU took over on the Stillman 48 yard line and it took 12 plays for ASU to push the ball into the endzone from a yard out on Chris Gilzeane’s first rushing touchdown of the season.
Even though Stillman scored two times, the ASU defense did not give up any points, holding Stillman to 131 yards of total offense, and blocking a field goal in the process.
ASU had 207 yards of offense in the opening half rushing for 111 yards and throwing for 96.
The win was Reggie Barlow’s 42nd win as ASU head coach, which makes him the third all-time winningest coach at ASU. It is also the first time since 1998 since ASU has won both the Magic City and Turkey Day Classic in the same season.
ASU finishes the 2013 season with an 8-4 record, which is the second time in three years ASU has won eight games in a season. Over the past four years the Hornets have won 30 games, which is the third best four-year run in the history of the program.
Courtesy: Alabama State Sports Information
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