GRAMBLING, La. – Malcolm Cyrus rushed for 180 yards and one touchdown while Daniel Duhart threw three touchdown passes as the Alabama State football team rallied from a 13-point first quarter deficit to win at Grambling 37-23.
Alabama State (6-5 overall, 5-4 SWAC) gained 266 of its 495 yards on the ground to defeat the SWAC Western Division leading Tigers (7-4, 7-1).
“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Alabama State head football coach Reggie Barlow said. “We had great energy level as a team, the coaches did a great job of preparing them, and we just played with the type of energy and effort you need to win.”
A blocked extra point after Grambling’s second touchdown sparked the Hornets. A seven-play, 56-yard drive ended with the first of two Ephraim Henderson touchdown receptions to cut the Alabama State deficit to 13-7 late in the first quarter.
The Hornets took the lead for good in the second quarter. Cyrus’ eight-yard touchdown run capped a five-play, 70-yard drive that gave the Hornets a 14-13 advantage with 5:23 to play until halftime.
The defense got on the board when Kourtney Berry recovered a fumble and scored with less than two minutes to play to give Alabama State a 21-13 lead. Grambling converted a field goal on the final play of the half as the Hornets led 21-16 at halftime.
“There were some run plays we’ve had in the past that have worked well for us, but we changed some things up,” Barlow said. “It was positive to see us moving the ball. Once you know you can move the ball, every once in a while things happen (in regards to three turnovers). But, the guys kept fighting, kept working hard, the O-line kept blocking, and it worked out in our favor. The defense stood up, forced three turnovers and played well. It was a good team win for us.”
In the third quarter, defensive end Edward Mosley caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to give Alabama State a 28-16 led it would take to the fourth quarter.
After Grambling scored to cut the Hornet lead to 28-23 less than a minute into the fourth quarter, the Hornets answered less than a minute later. Henderson got behind the GSU defense on a 40-yard touchdown reception to push the lead to 34-23.
“I’m so proud of E.J.,” Barlow said. “All he does is come to work every day for the last few years and work hard. He’s been our holder on field goals and extra points, and playing as the fourth or fifth receiver. He’s just one of those guys that doesn’t complain and works all the time. When his number was called, he made the plays.”
Preston Clark’s 44-yard field goal with 6:25 remaining in the game capped a 12-play, 50-yard drive that consumed nearly six minutes off the clock for the final margin.
The win by the Hornets in the final SWAC game of the season is the fourth consecutive over Grambling in the series. The Hornets conclude the regular season in the 91st Turkey Day Classic against Stillman at 1 p.m. next Saturday.
“It’s one of the things we talked to the team about,” Barlow said. “There are not a lot of teams anywhere that can say they’ve won against Grambling four years in a row. It’s big for us. I commend our players and coaches. The guys bought into the plan. We had a great week of practice and great energy, and we brought it here.”
Courtesy: Alabama State Athletics