Yes, some fans might have left ASU Stadium grumbling after Alabama State’s 48-42 overtime victory against Prairie View A&M, but it might have been the most impressive victory of the season.
Yes, the defense gave up some staggering numbers to Prairie View: 42 points, 34 first downs, 533 passing yards to Jerry Lovelocke and an astounding 109 offensive plays to the Panthers, but consider how the Hornets persevered in the face of a growing number of injuries.
Head coach Reggie Barlow said on Friday the decision to play starting quarterback Daniel Duhart was a game-time decision but considering the fact Duhart never put on a helmet or shoulder pads on Saturday during the game, we have to consider his back injury may be a little more serious (at least this week) than a “game-time decision.”
Backup Arsenio Favor was up to the task, but went down a minute into the second quarter with an injured right knee, the same one that was operated on during the offseaon. He said he could have returned. Every competitor says that, but with the game on the line it was true freshman Quinteris Toppings in his first collegiate game.
No other option. No Wildcat because Isaiah Crowell was nursing a twisted ankle and Malcolm Cyrus was fighting through leg cramps, forcing true freshman Khalid Thomas into action briefly because third-team tailback Andre Kincey is injured and fourth-team tailback Jahaad Coleman is still suspended.
Right tackle Tovar Allen missed his second game with an ankle sprain (replacement and former starter Ron Hall was outstanding, according to Barlow, in his place) but left tackle Matthew Bates sat out part of the game with an injury as did right guard Robert Roquemore, putting Jylan Ware and Demechery Hickingbottom into action.
That’s three second-team offensive linemen, a fifth-team tailback and a third-team quarterback playing at different points in the game. Try winning with that.
Without singling out any individual players, it’s hard to understand how the defensive players, particularly in the secondary, were nowhere near the receivers at times in the offensive barrage, but the Hornets did get the job done several times in the second half and particularly in overtime.
It didn’t help that outside linebacker Daerius Washington, the team’s fifth leading tackler, sat out with a concussion and his replacement, Deontrelle Silmon, sat out most of the second half with a pulled hamstring, forcing the Hornets’ 4-3-4 scheme to switch to a 4-2-5 alignment.
Silmon, by the way, was outstanding in his first collegiate start as the walk-on had nine tackles at halftime.
The open date couldn’t have fallen at a better time on the schedule. The Hornets need to get healthy before taking on Alabama A&M in the Magic City Classic in two weeks because there’s no room for error as Jackson State remained unbeaten in SWAC play with a 26-17 win over Mississippi Valley State.
Jackson State is 5-0, followed by Alabama State at 5-1, Alcorn State at 3-1, Alabama A&M at 2-3 and Mississippi Valley State at 1-3.
The loss was devastating for Prairie View, which dropped to 3-2, a half-game behind Southern (3-1), which beat Alabama A&M 20-17. The Panthers, like the Hornets, lost the head-to-head matchup with the division leader and therefore need the division leader to lost twice more this season. ASU can help themselves and Prairie View on Nov. 9 with a home game against Southern.
Texas Southern, which beat winless UAPB 41-28 on Saturday, is third in the West at 1-4, followed by UAPB (0-4) and Grambling (0-4).