Hornets suffer significant loss to Tigers


Kendal Manns, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

The Alabama State University Hornets suffered a significant 62-0 loss against the Auburn University Tigers in their September 11th matchup.
Auburn is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), one of the most well-known conferences in all of college football. Alabama State University is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and is a lower Division 1 program. Because of the differences in the football hierarchy and Auburn being a top 25 ranked football program domestically, ASU was a big underdog going into this game.
Despite the final score, the first half was actually somewhat competitive due to both teams starting the game off poorly, with penalties and other mistakes plaguing both teams. Auburn led the way in that category with seven penalties costing them 47-yards. The Hornets had two penalties costing them 20 yards.
The Hornets’ defense made some big plays early on, especially in the secondary. Rodney Echols and Jazquez Payton both had some nice pass breakups to start the Tigers’ first drive. Going along with their “bend, but don’t break” mentality, the Tigers did manage to get down the field but had to settle for a field goal after being stopped three straight times in the red zone. A field goal for the Tigers would give them a 3-0 lead.
The Hornet’s offensive woes would continue, as they managed to get one first down in their first two drives. The defensive line for the Tigers came out of the gate with some strong rushes on the Hornets’ quarterback Ryan Nettles and blowing up a screenplay attempt. Besides a couple of passes from Nettles for 9 and 7 yards, respectively, the offense was stagnant. Things were only made worse when the punt by Aubrey Grace was blocked and recovered by the Tigers.
The Tigers could not get in the end zone despite having a good field position and establishing their running game early. The Hornet defense again held them to just a field goal giving Auburn a 6-0 lead. A delay of game penalty would put the struggling Hornets offense into another tough drive that ended in a three and out to end the first quarter.
Despite struggles from Auburn quarterback Bo Nix and drops from Tigers’ receivers, the running back tandem of Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter powered them down the field. The Tigers’ up-tempo offense was also key in getting them down the field. Nix would deliver the ball to wide receiver Demetrius Robertson for Auburn’s first touchdown of the game.
With the score now 13-0 in favor of the Tigers, the Hornets would respond with their best offensive drive of the game. This drive featured a big 15 yard run from sophomore running back Jacory Merritt and a couple of passes by Nettles to Jeremiah Hixon and Terrance Ellis for first downs. Hixon, in particular, made a spectacular diving catch that, along with a face mask penalty by the Tigers, would put the Hornets at the 6-yard line. Unfortunately, some questionable play calls would lead to the Hornets settling for a field goal that would get blocked by the Tigers and returned for an 80-yard touchdown in a big swing of momentum.
Going into the third quarter with a 20-0 lead, the Tigers would explode for 35 points in the third quarter alone. Nix would find Robertson in the end zone for the second time this game. Robertson would also score on the ground for a 36-yard touchdown. Roger Mccreary would jump a wide receiver screen and pick off Nettles, taking it to the house for a pick-six. One of the most demoralizing plays for the Tigers would be a 94-yard touchdown run by Hunter for the longest run in Auburn football history. Sean Jackson would rush for the game’s last touchdown with a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“I still thought our kids played hard,” said ASU head coach Donald Hill-Eley. “The score is not indicative of how hard our guys played. We knew it was going to be an uphill battle going up against an SEC team, but I was very impressed with certain phases of the day.”
Hill also pointed to the blocked field goal when everything went downhill for his club, saying, “I felt like we could have got out of there down 13-3 or 13-7. We ended up getting a field goal blocked, which was a letdown at that particular setting. It kind of spiraled out of control after that.
The Hornets will not play another game until their matchup against Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats at home on Sept. 25. They will take the week off between games using this week to “get healthy” and “clean things up.” As conference play nears, ASU will look to learn from their first two games and build on the thing