By Keisha J Kelley
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. | Alabama State and Alabama A&M found themselves tied early in the third quarter after a Hornets touchdown before Alabama A&M was able to score on back-to-back possessions to pull away for a 42-28 victory at the 80th annual McDonald’s Magic City Classic presented by Coca-Cola.
Despite Alabama State putting up 360 yards of total offense, it was a touchdown and onside kick by the Bulldogs within three minutes of each other that pushed the Alabama A&M lead to 35-21 with 7:17 to play in the quarter. Following a five-play, 30-yard drive to open the second half culminating in a 16-yard touchdown run by Ezra Gray (Lynn Haven, Fla.), Alabama A&M answered with a Odieu Hilare touchdown reception with 10:29 to play in the quarter to take a 28-21 lead.
The Bulldogs converted on an onside kick that was touched by an Alabama State player prior to traveling 10 yards, leading to a one-yard run by Gary Quarles to push the lead to two touchdowns.
Alabama State (3-3, 2-3 SWAC) answered early in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard pass from Ryan Nettles (Evergreen, Ala.) to Wallace Corker (Stockbridge, Ga.) to trim the lead to 35-28 with 9:15 to play, before Alabama A&M was able to put it away with five minutes remaining in the contest.
Nettles hooked up with Corker in the second quarter to tie the game up at 7-all with 13:35 to play in the first half and looked to have another until the pass was intercepted as Corker was pushed out of the way in the end zone with 7:19 to play in the half leading to an Alabama A&M touchdown. Nettles connected with Kisean Johnson (Birmingham, Ala.) with just 11 seconds remaining in the half to trim the lead to 21-14.
CHECKING THE BOX SCORE
Gray went over 2,000 yards for his career with a 20-yard run over the final drive of the first half to set up the final touchdown. He finished the night with 91 yards to give him 2,065 rushing yards for his career, after breaking the 1000-yard mark against the Bulldogs in the 2019 game.
Corker caught a pair of touchdown passes from Nettles and finished the night with six receptions for 73 yards on 11 targets. Meanwhile, Jeremiah Hixon (Monroeville, Ala.) finished with a game-high 10 receptions for 116 yards on 13 targets.
Nettles returned after missing the last two games for the Hornets and responded by going 24-38 for 243 yards and three touchdowns, with just one interception. He also rushed the ball 10 times for 20 yards in the loss.
Christian Clark (Cleveland, Ohio) led Alabama State with five tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, while Devonte Webster (Columbus, Ga.) finished with four tackles – all solo.
Irshaad Davis (Carol City, Fla.), the team’s leading tackler, finished with just a pair of tackles after being ejected for targeting on a hit to Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass in the first half.
Courtesy of Alabama State Athletics