NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the scheduled opener and in front of crowd of 20,055 at the 17th annual John Merritt Classic, Alabama State couldn’t hold off Ohio Valley Conference opponent Tennessee State in a 24-14 loss.
It was a game the Hornets carried a 14-3 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Tigers were able to take advantage of three turnovers and a short field to score three touchdowns in the deciding quarter.
“We lost to a good team tonight and they did exactly what you are supposed to do, they capitalized and you can’t take anything away from Tennessee State and Coach Rod Reed,” Head Coach Brian Jenkins said. “They played all the way down to the wire and we didn’t finish.”
The Hornets offense had some big moments and actually finished the game with 314 total yards. 225 of those yards came from the arm of senior quarterback Daniel Duhart, who finished the game hitting 20 of his 25 pass attempts. He connected with Josh Davis on the opening offensive play for ASU for a career-high 82 yard scoring play to give ASU a quick first-quarter 7-0 lead.
Duhart also had a hand in scoring the Hornets second touchdown when he went in from three yards out in the third period to push the Hornets to a 14-3 lead.
The Hornets defense came up big for most of the game, holding TSU’s high-powered offense to only 330 yards and 24 points, but they played with their backs to the endzone all of the fourth quarter due to the turnovers.
“Our defense did a lot of good things tonight,” Jenkins said. “You just can’t give a good team like Tennessee State three or four turnovers and a short field like we did and expect to win.”
Senior Daerius Washington and Kourtney Berry each had game-high 13 tackles. Washington’s 13 tackles was a career-high as was his 11 solo stops.
Both teams moved the ball at times in the first half, but the Hornets took a 7-3 lead into the locker room. Lane Clark’s 31 yard field goal with one second left in the half cut the Hornets lead to four.
TSU ran 46 plays in the opening 30 minutes compared to 21 for ASU. TSU gained 182 yards with 53 of those coming on the final drive leading to the field goal. ASU had 142 total yards.
“I told the team to walk away with their heads up and I go away from here encouraged because we fought all the way to the end,” Jenkins said. “I think we played one of the best teams on our level. But I am proud of the way the guys played tonight.”
The Hornets will be back at home for the first time next week when they open Southwestern Athletic Conference play. 2014 SWAC Champions Alcorn State will visit ASU Stadium Saturday, Sept. 12 with the kick set for 6 p.m.
Courtesy: ASU Athletics