It was Homecoming for Alabama State as they took on the Golden Tigers of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Tigers were looking to snap their four-game losing streak. The Hornets had a change at quarterback with Ryan Nettles getting hurt and Myles Crawley making his first start of the season.
Change of quarterback means a change of play style as Crawley threw for almost 300 yards (292) against the Tigers’ defense. Not all was great as you could see Crawley struggle bobbling some snaps and overthrowing a couple of open receivers. Overall, he played exceptionally well completing 20 of 28 passes and throwing four touchdowns. Running back Ezra Gray had almost 100 all-purpose yards (98) with 43 receiving and 55 rushing. Wide Receiver Jeremiah Hixon showed why he is the number one target with a 112-yard game and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Alabama State forced two key turnovers which translated into points by the offense.
On the first turnover, defensive back Irshaad Davis forced a fumble that was recovered by edge rusher Nicholas Terry. On the first play, Crawley threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Hixon. Once again Davis lead the team in tackles with nine, plus the forced fumble for his final stats. The Crawley and Hixon duo hooked up again for another 51-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the endzone. Special teams had two blocked field goals resulting in turnovers on downs.
This is what head coach Donald Eley wanted to see. It was not a perfect game but it was close enough he mentioned.
“My challenge is to get offense, defense, and special teams to play one collective game together…. Over and over and over again. And tonight is probably the closest that we’ve been with everybody bending and not breaking, doing their job.”
Defensive penalties were a bit of a problem for the Hornets as it took away a scoop and score defensive touchdown. A couple of pass interference calls along with roughing the passer, Coach Eley looks to clean up some of these penalties as the season continues.
“We don’t want to change the effort of our players, we tell them to get to the quarterback. We want to change the result of the whistle, we’ll clean things up.”
The Hornets won comfortably 35-15 over the Golden Tigers improving to 3-2 on the season with a 2-1 record in the SWAC. They have two tough opponents these next two weeks: Jackson State away and Alabama A&M for the Magic City Classic in Birmingham.