MONTGOMERY, Ala.- Southern Jaguars defeated Alabama State by a score of 24-21 on Friday in the season opener for both teams.
Alabama State (0-1) fell behind early after a pair of turnovers in the first half but battled back throughout the first half.
The Hornets faces a third and 18 with just over one minute to play when Ryan Nettles, making his first collegiate start, scrambled right and found Jeremiah Hixon in the back corner of the end for a 32-yard touchdown with 1:08 to play and tied the game at 7-all headed to the locker room.
Southern (1-0) came out and scored on their first possession after a long kickoff return, using a seven-play drive to go 45 yards and took a 14-7 lead.
Alabama State was able to come right back on their opening possession of the second half, marching 70 yards in eight plays culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Nettles to Jefferson to tie the game at 14-all.
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The Hornets forced a Southern turnover inside the five-yard line late in the third quarter, punching it in three plays later on a Jacory Merritt one-yard run to take a 21-14 lead.
However, Southern scored the next 10 points to take a 24-21 lead and set the stage for the final two minutes of the game. Alabama State marched down the field to give themselves a chance when a last-second field goal missed wide left.
Nettles finished the night 16-for-27 and 149 yards, throwing a pair of touchdowns, while also running the football 15 times for 37 yards. Ezra Gray and Merritt combined for 145 yards, with Gray going for 79 on 14 carries and Merritt 65 (17 carries).
Michael Jefferson and Jahod Booker each caught five passes, with Jefferson picking up 47 yards and Booker 43. On the defensive side of the football, Colton Adams finished with 11 tackles with one forced fumble.