Alabama State hasn’t quite gotten over the hump in its quest to establish itself as one of the elite programs among HBCUs. However, that could be changing. The Hornets upset Tennessee State, the reigning Black College National Champion and one of the most storied and respected program in Black College Football, 27-21 at ASU Stadium in Montgomery, Ala., in a game that was delayed twice by lightning.
“This was a big game for us to play against a team like Tennessee State, who we have a lot of respect for, and the tradition and history they have there,” said ASU coach Reggie Barlow. “We knew it would be a really tough game. Our guys stayed with the vision and just fought the process. We talked about a couple of characteristics we needed to have for this game; it was heart, resiliency, and we wanted to play as a team and just make sacrifices for each other. We were able to do that and we were able to get away with a win.’’
Tennessee State (1-1) entered the game ranked No. 14 in the Football Subdivision Top 25. But the Hornets (1-1) surged to a 22-point lead and then held on down stretch to give Barlow a signature victory and their most significant win since they won the 2004 SWAC Championship Game.
Alabama State ran roughshod over Tennessee State’s highly regarded defense, churning out 255 rushing yards. Running back Malcolm Cyrus gouged Big Blue for 170 yards. Cyrus added another 86 receiving yards including a 70-yard touchdown reception that gave the Hornets a 17-2 lead. That score came after a 31-minute lightning delay at the start of the third period along with a 57-minute lightning delay in the first quarter.
Khalid Thomas contributed 70 yards on 10 carries. Alabama State built its lead to 24-2 with 10:32 remaining in the third quarter when quarterback Daniel Duhart scampered 30 yards for a score. It was the longest run of Duhart’s career. Tennessee State quarterback Michael German attempted to rally the Tigers. German, who ended the game with 340 yards in the air while completing 26 of 61 attempts, threw a pair of touchdown passes and scored on a one-yard run in the final 19 minutes.
But a breakdown in the kicking game cost the Tigers dearly. They missed two extra points and had a field goal blocked for a touchdown.