HOUSTON — After 67 text messages, Alabama State University interim head coach Donald Hill-Eley was able to sit back and relax after watching the Hornets come-from-behind for a 23-16 victory over Texas Southern University at BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“It’s been a long week,” Eley said. “It’s been a long week, we are drained. The players responded when we got down 14 points, and you get the feeling of here we go again. But the kids kept fighting and fighting, and they found a way to win. It was good to see them playing for them, and it was good to see them win going into the bye week.”
Alabama State (1-5, 1-2 SWAC) trailed for much of the first half before Darryl Pearson, Jr. lofted a ball to Willis White over the middle for a 67-yard touchdown pass to give Alabama State a 20-16 lead with just six seconds left in the third quarter.
After a Hunter Hanson 40-yard field goal extended the lead to 23-16 with 4:14 remaining in the contest, it was the Hornet defense that came up big in the final seconds. Ronnie Scott knocked the ball out at the last second on third down, it was TJ Presley who intercepted the ball at the goal line to end the contest.
“It was a big kick,” Eley said. “The kid has a strong leg and a strong leg for this division, and we know he can kick it. He came to me before the game started and said he could make it from 51, and I told him I didn’t ask him how far you could drive. But he went out there and knocked it through.”
The momentum of the game swung when the Hornets called a fake punt in the third quarter when Chett LeVay took the snap and ran around right end for 47 yards. That led to a Hanson 28-yard field goal that trimmed the lead to 16-13 and set the stage for the rest of the game.
Pearson came off the bench to throw for 126 yards on 9-of-11 passing while running for 22 yards. The duo of Pearson and Kobie Jones connected with 11 different receivers, with six different players each catching a pair of passes.
Alabama State outgained Texas Southern 264-261 on the day, led by a defense that forced two turnovers and recorded five sacks on the day. Malik Bridgers led Alabama State with eight tackles, while Darron Johnson had seven. The defense recorded 11 tackles for loss on the day.
Alabama State returns to action October 28 against Alabama A&M at the Magic City Classic.