MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama State left little doubt they would capture the 97th annual Turkey Day Classic and finish undefeated at home with 17 unanswered points to start the game on their way to a 43-9 victory over Tuskegee Thursday night.
Alabama State (5-6) won their third consecutive game over the Golden Tigers with their best offensive performance of the season with 411 total yards, while allowing just 212 to Tuskegee (3-8). They controlled the football with 38:26 in time of possession and used 209 yards passing from Joe Owens, Jr. to pull away.
Owens connected with ten different receivers in the game with Keron Jones leading the way with four for 42 yards. Jacory Merritt led three players with three receptions each, while Dontrey Manley led the Hornets with 97 yards on ten carries and a touchdown.
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Alabama State jumped on top with 9:55 to play in the first quarter when Merritt scored the first of his three touchdowns from four yards out to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead. They would add to that lead with just two minutes remaining in the quarter when Merritt caught a six-yard touchdown pass out for a 14-0 lead, before Hunter Hanson connected on a 19-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead with 12:05 to play in the half.
Tuskegee would get on the board with 8:26 to play on a safety off a blocked punt to trim the lead to 17-2, before Hanson connected on his second field goal from 31 yards out for a 20-2 lead with just two seconds remaining in the half.
The Golden Tigers would get on the board first in the third quarter on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 10:11 to play in the quarter, but it was all Alabama State after that. The Hornets scored 23 unanswered, all in the fourth, to pull away for the win. They started the off with a 37-yard punt return from Robert McMinn, his second in three weeks, for a 27-9 lead with 11:45 to play in the game.
Alabama State added another Hanson field goal (31 yards), and Merritt went in from two yards out for a 36-9 lead. The Hornets added one final touchdown after a Tuskegee turnover when Manley went in from 40 yards out with just 50 seconds to play for the final margin.
Irshaad Davis led the defense with six stops and an interception, while Jake Howard added five including 2.5 tackles for loss.
Courtesy: Alabama State Athletics