MONTGOMERY – Malcolm Cyrus rushed for 188 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in leading Alabama State to a 42-7 Southwestern Athletic Conference win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
“This was a great opportunity for our team to play on national television here in our stadium,” Head Coach Reggie Barlow said. “I thought the atmosphere was really good and our student body really came out and cheered us on and we were excited about that.”
“It was a good effort offensively. We talked about establishing the run and eventually try to take some shots and then run it some more. We were really good in the running game tonight. We had a couple of big plays from Davis and Bell which was outstanding and our defense was combative and they took on the challenge of trying to contain Ben (Anderson), their really good quarterback, and for the most part I thought we did a good job.”
Cyrus had a career-high 29 carries in rushing for the season-high yardage. It was the third consecutive week Cyrus has rushed for more yardage than the week before and he did it all in three quarters as the backups played the entire fourth quarter on both offense and defense. He now has rushed for 612 yards and four scores during the first four games.
“It was a collective team win for us, 2-0 in the SWAC,” Cyrus said. “The offensive line blocked real, real good and I can’t take all the credit. We have a good defensive line so we go up against the best every day. We came out with the “W” and that’s all that matters.”
The Hornets (3-1/2-0 SWAC) rushed for over 300 yards for the second consecutive game, finishing with 317. A wide receiver happened to be the second leading rusher as Joshua Davis ran two reverses with the final one going 63 yards for a score. He finished with 67 yards rushing.
Khalid Thomas had another big game in punt returns with 115 yards on eight returns. It is the second consecutive game Thomas has finished with over 100 yards in return yardage. He also rushed for 36 yards on nine carries.
Daniel Duhart missed on some of his deep throws, but he did manage to complete nine of his 17 pass attempts for 142 yards and a score. His score came on a 68-yard pass play to DeMario Bell, who caught a slant pass and outraced the defenders for the long touchdown play.
With ASU coming out of the locker room with a 21-0 lead, ASU scored on its first possession of the second half when Cyrus ran in from 11 yards out.
Thomas added a six yard run later in the third quarter and Davis’ scored on the reverse early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 42-0.
UAPB (1-2/0-1 SWAC) avoided the shutout when quarterback Benjamin Anderson connected with Marvante King on a 79-yard pass play midway through the final quarter.
The Hornets finished with 461 total yards, averaging 5.9 yards per play as they were able to run 78 plays on offense.
ASU’s defense held the Golden Lions to 303 yards of total offense, with 138 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter after the game had already been decided.
Kourtney Berry led the Hornets defense with 11 total stops and added two tackles for lost yardage and a sack. ASU had four sacks on the day with Torrey Davis, Edward Mosley and Darien Barrett all getting to the quarterback. Ka’Ra Stewart added an interception on the goal line which he was able to return 56 yards to stop a late UAPB scoring threat.
UAPB’s Anderson showed why he was the SWAC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year finishing with a team-high 80 yards and hitting 13 of his 27 pass attempts for 183 yards and the score.
ASU built a 21-0 halftime lead on the running of Cyrus who finished the half with 103 yards and two scores. His first score came on the Hornets opening drive of the game as Cyrus went over from 14 yards out on an third-and-seven play.
The 7-0 scored held up until the Hornets took over on their own 47 yard line and went the 53 yards in 10 plays. Cyrus again ended the drive going in from two yards out to push the lead to 14-0.
Penalties and over thrown passes hurt the Hornets chances of adding to their lead until Duhart was able to hit Bell on the slant pattern the junior turned into a one-play, 68-yard catch and score for a 21-0 lead with only 49 seconds left in the half.
ASU’s defense held the high-powered Golden Lions offense to 123 yards on 32 plays, while ASU finished the opening half with 269 yards on 46 plays. UAPB’s best chance to score came on their first possession of the second quarter when they drove to the ASU 14 yard line, but a 31-yard field goal from Tyler Strickland was blocked by Justin Mitchell to end the scoring threat. It was the third consecutive game the Hornets had blocked a kick.
“This was a good victory for us,” Barlow said. “We have had a battle-tested week-after-week-after-week, and then we had a short week, but the guys did a good job of getting focused and now we actually get a couple of days we can give them and try to get some guys back.”
ASU now has nine days off before hosting Texas Southern Saturday, Sept. 27 at 5 p.m.
Courtesy: Alabama State Sports Information