BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In the game of the year, no matter the records, Alabama A&M (3-5, 3-2 SWAC) surrendered the lead late and fell 24-17 to rival Alabama State (5-3, 3-2 SWAC) in the 81st Magic City Classic in an NCAA Division I football game on Saturday, October 29.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Quincy Casey went 16-of-21 on the day for 217 yards and a touchdown, while senior wideout Cameron Young finished with four grabs for 87 yards.
He was joined by graduate wide receiver Terrell Gardner with five catches and 86 yards and senior wideout Isiah Cox with the lone receiving TD. Sophomore tailback Donovan Eaglin rounded out the top offensive performers with 68 yards on 21 carries.
Defensively, junior defensive end Zareon Hayes was a one-man wrecking crew with eight tackles, 4.5 of them for loss, as he also picked up a half sack in the process. Senior defensive tackle Jamal Irby made the play of the day, however, picking off of a pass at the six-yard line and running it in for the pick-six.
Both teams would have inauspicious beginnings as ASU went six plays for three yards and the Bulldogs followed with a 13-play, 58-yard drive that ended up in a blocked 38-yard field goal with just under six minutes remaining in the opening frame. The Hornets would capitalize on that, however, as they moved 34 yards in eight plays, and Jayden John connected from 49-yards out for a 3-0 lead with 47 seconds on the clock.
Neither club would go anywhere with their next possessions, and A&M took over at their own 29-yard line with 11:55 to go in the first half. They wouldn’t stay there long, however, as Casey connected with Young on a 61-yard bomb down to the ASU 10-yard line. Three plays later, Casey would find Cox in the endzone from two yards out for a 7-3 lead with 9:57 on the clock.
It would take all of one play for them to add to that lead as Irby stepped in front of a Dematrius Davis pass at the Hornets’ six-yard line and tromped into the endzone for a “Big Man Touchdown” to make it 14-3 just seven seconds later. From there, neither team would be able to gain any traction as they headed to the break with that 11-point margin.
They would then alternate the first four possessions of the third quarter, with ASU forcing a fumble on a punt after their second drive. Donte Norris fell on the ball at the A&M 23-yard line to set up Alabama State up with excellent field position. They would take full advantage as it took just five plays to hit paydirt, that coming on a nine-yard strike to Kisean Johnson at 4:51.
The Bulldogs would carry that 14-10 lead into the fourth before ASU flipped the script with an eight-play, 42-yard drive that capped off with a four-yard touchdown plunge by Jacory Merritt to make it 17-14 with 13:56 to play. A&M then answered with a mammoth 15-play, 56-yard drive that included a fourth and three conversion and a 37-yard field goal by freshman kicker Zach Alvarez at the 7:28 mark.
Deadlocked at 17-17, the Hornets made the most of their next possession as Davis connected with Darius Edmonds for 42-yards to get them out of a 3rd and 20 at their own nine-yard line. A 14-yard rush combined with a pass interference penalty and a two-yard rush got them down to the 23-yard line. From there Davis found Jeremiah Hixon for the go-ahead touchdown, pulling ahead 24-17 with exactly two minutes left.
Having done more with less before, the Bulldogs took over at their own 30-yard line and worked their way down to the ASU 26. Facing a 4th and 5, Casey connected with junior wide receiver Micah White for 17 yards to keep the drive alive. Following an incompletion, Casey found Young for five yards to the four-yard line, but time would expire as he was tackled inbounds to secure the 24-17 decision in favor of Alabama State.
Davis led the way for the Hornets, finishing 11-of-25 for 140 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and an interception, while Edmonds had 42 yards on one catch and Johnson notched 33 with a TD on four grabs. Hixon rounded out the offense with a score on one of his two catches.
Colton Adams racked up 15 tackles, seven solo, to anchor the defense, and Adrian Maddox finished with nine. Brandon Gaddy added eight and a sack and Jaland Lewis-Horton contributed six tackles, 1.5 for loss. The latter also was also all sack totals.
Courtesy: Alabama A&M Athletics