Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

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Hornets claim bragging rights after Magic City Classic football game


Two in a row for Coach Eddie Robinson Jr.

The Alabama State University Hornets defeated instate rival the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University Bulldogs 31-16 in the 82nd Magic City Classic on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.  The Hornets have now won their second consecutive Magic City Classic since head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. took over the program.

It was a dominating performance by the Hornets, whose defense held the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) number-one-ranked offense to only 16 points. The Bulldog offense had costly turnovers in the game.

Hornets wide receiver Robert McMinn returned a punt 48 yards for a touchdown, giving the Hornets the first score of the game 7-0 with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.

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The struggle to move the ball continued for the Bulldogs as they had another three-and-out.

The Hornets received the ball and went backwards. Two penalties forced the offense into third and 23. They could not convert and had to punt. The punt was muffled and recovered by the Bulldogs at the three-yard line.

Bulldogs quarterback Xavier Lankford dove into the endzone for a two-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 heading into the second quarter.

Hornets quarterback Damon Stewart found wide receiver Isaiah Scott for a 12-yard gain.  After losing yards on back-to-back plays, the Hornets’ offense managed to convert third and 16 when Stewart found wide receiver Kisean Johnson wide open for 16-yards to move the chains.

An illegal forward pass penalty stalled the Hornets drive, and they elected to kick a field goal.  Kicker Jayden John made the 26-yarder to increase the lead to 10-7 with only 3:34 left in the second quarter.  With under a minute left until halftime, Lankford threw a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Cameron Young; unfortunately, it was called back due to a blindside block penalty.

On the next play, Lankford connected with wide receiver Terrell Gardner for the 39-yard score. The Bulldogs now held the lead, 14-10.

The Hornets had only 19 seconds left to try and score. On first down, Stewart connected with running back Ja’Won Howell for a gain of 14.

Stewart took a chance and threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone. Johnson snatched the ball out of the air while being swarmed by multiple Bulldog defenders to score a 47-yard touchdown as the clock hit zero.

The Hornets were back up 17-14 heading into halftime. Stewart had 106 passing yards with one touchdown, while Lankford had 98 passing yards, 23 rushing yards, and one passing touchdown in the first half.

The Hornets received the ball to start the second half. After two runs that gained a few yards, Stewart threw to Scott for 10 yards. Bulldogs linebacker Xavier Billingsley ripped the ball out of Scott’s hands as he caught it.

The Bulldogs offense had perfect field position, starting at the Hornets’ 25-yard line. They faced a third-and-long at the 18-yard line, and Lankford was sacked for a 12-yard loss. The Bulldogs kicker attempted a field goal, but it was blocked by Hornet wide receiver Tyree Saunders and returned for a 53-yard touchdown by Hornets defensive back James Burgess.

The Hornets extended their lead to 24–14. Heading into the final quarter, the Bulldogs desperately needed to get back on the board before things got out of control.

The Bulldogs next drive was cut short as Hornets cornerback Amon Scarbrough intercepted the ball with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter.  The Hornets were unable to extend their lead as they were forced to punt the ball away. The Bulldogs’ offense came back on the field.

On fourth down, Lankford picked up the first down with his legs.  However, two plays later, Hornets cornerback Cali Jackson forced Lankford to fumble. Scarbrough was able to recover the fumble as the Hornets looked to run out the clock.

Howell had a huge 21-yard run on second down, followed up by a seven-yard gain.  Stewart connected with wide receiver McRae Ellington for 30 yards. Howell would then run eight yards for the score, increasing the score to 31-14 and putting the game out of reach.

The Bulldogs would get the ball back but fail to convert a fourth down. Stewart was tackled in the end zone on the final play, giving the Bulldogs two points and making the score 31-16.

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