PHOTO BY DAVID CAMPBELL/UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHER
The struggling Alabama State University Hornets defeated the Texas Southern University Tigers on Nov. 19 at ASU stadium. The Hornets were on a four-game skid, in which they had not won a game since the early part of Oct. 9 against the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff. The Tigers were also on a two-game losing streak.
The Tigers elected to receive the ball first, and their freshman quarterback Andrew Body set the tone early that he was going to be electric. Their offense made a strong opening drive but the Hornet defense forced a punt. There was a new commander under center making his first career start, Joe Owens Jr. During the Hornets opening drive, Ezra Gray had a 23-yard rush, but it did not lead to points for the Hornets.
However, the Hornet defense forced a turnover as sophomore Irshaad Davis intercepted a short pass for no return. The Turnovers gave the Hornets a great starting field position, in which Ezra Gray broke loose for a 26-yard gain to put the offense in scoring position. The Hornets took advantage of their field position after Joe Owens Jr. found sophomore Brandon McDuffie for a 9-yard touchdown pass to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead.
But the Tigers responded immediately, Andrew Body found Ke’Lnn Davis for a 46-yard pass to put the Tigers in the red zone. This led to a Tigers touchdown after Andrew Body scrambled 4-yards to find the end zone to tie the game 7-7. The Hornets running game led them down the red zone after junior Jacory Merrit rushed for two 20+ yard runs. Unfortunately, Joe Owens Jr. threw an interception on the goal line to end the first quarter.
The second quarter did not have much action as both defenses were locked in. To start the second half, the Hornets marched down the field after Joe Owens found Jeremiah Hixon for 17-yards to help the Hornets get in field goal range. Senior Hunter Hanson made a 47-yard field goal which was his career-long. The Tiger offense, once again responded immediately when Andrew Body juked out multiple Hornet defenders for a 55-yard rush which put the Tigers in the red zone. This led to a 1-yard touchdown rush by Ladarius Owens to give the Tigers a 14-10 lead. After a couple of three-and-outs by both offenses, the Hornets finally scored a touchdown at the end of the third quarter after Brandon McDuffie blocked a Tigers punt, which sophomore Robert Rivers recovered to give the Hornets a 17-14 lead.
The fourth quarter started with Andrew Body leading the Tigers down the field after a 22-yard rush and 14-yard rush to put the Tigers in Hornet territory. Body closed this drive out with an electrifying touchdown pass where he threw a missile to Johnathan Giles. For the next five minutes, both teams traded punts, but finally ,with 7:08 left in the game, Joe Owens connected with Wallace Corker’s 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Hornets a 24-21 lead. The Tigers were able to advance the ball down the field, but they could not come away with points after an offsides call, and a missed goal gave the Hornets a 24-21 win.
After the game Hornets head coach Travis Pearson spoke to the media about the quarterback change: “We just felt like we needed a spark. We needed a guy that understood coverages and defenses because we felt like this defense did not have many coverages to throw our way.” Freshman quarterback Joe Owens Jr. talked about what he would grade his first career start, “I would give myself a C, I felt like there were somethings I could have done better but I hope to improve.”
This was the first win for interim head coach Travis Pearson. The Hornets look to continue this momentum into Thanksgiving Day, where they will take on the Tuskegee University Tigers at 2 p.m. in ASU stadium.