Hornets power past UAPB 41-21 for first win of season

MONTGOMERY, Ala.  (bamastatesports.com) – Quarterback Quinterris Toppings rushed for two touchdowns and threw  for another and the Alabama State football team powered through with an efficient rushing attack and controlled the trenches on both sides of the ball to earn its first victory of the season with a 41-21 triumph over Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Saturday afternoon at the New ASU Stadium.

“My hat goes off to my coaches,” said second-year ASU head football coach Brian Jenkins.

“They did a wonderful job in preparing for this game and hats also go off to these players because we’ve been through a lot as a team.  We’ve perserved, stayed the course and never backed away from the hole that we’ve dug.  They accepted the responsibility and came out today and played the closest to a complete game that they have all year.  It was just a good day today.”

The Hornets (1-4 overall, 1-3 SWAC) started fast by scoring on their opening drive, picked up a fumble during one of the Golden Lions’ drives inside the red zone and rode a 14-point lead into halftime.

Arkansas Pine-Bluff (1-4 overall, 1-2 SWAC) cut the lead to 21-14 early in the third quarter when John Hawkins caught a two-yard touchdown from Brandon Duncan, but that’s as close as they would get for the remainder of the game.

ASU turned to its running game, pounding out 244 rushing yards, a clip of 5.4 yards per play on the ground.

Senior running back Khalid Thomas stayed on the attack, sliding around and juking defenders to total 22 rushes for a season-high 143 yards and two touchdowns.

“That goes to offensive line coach [Prince] Pearson,” Jenkins said.

“Coach Pearson has been driving those guys and really pushing those guys.  Our offensive line stepped in and did a really good job.  Our starting center Kerry [Williams] was out.  Sam Jenkins stepped in and really made this football team.  I couldn’t be more proud of those guys up front and win the battle in the trenches and give our guys a chance to run the ball.  Q.T. [Quinterris Toppings] made some good reads.  It was a complete team effort.”

Toppings completed 15 of 25 passes for 144 yards and found success on the ground by running in scores from three yards out in the first quarter and added a six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.  He finished with seven carries for 28 yards.

The Hornets were tasked with the challenge of slowing down the SWAC’s top passer on a yards per game basis in Duncan, who entered averaging over 273 passing yards per contest.

While Duncan was able to get his yards (380), the Alabama State defense applied constant pressure by sacking him six times spearheaded by Andre Wilson and Garret Oden, who each recorded two sacks apiece and a combined three tackles for losses.

Bradley Street also got into the act, by recovering the fumble in the end zone and tallied one sack and two tackles for losses, and Dominique Jackson, who recorded a sack and one tackle for a loss.

Darron Jackson led the swarm with a team-high eight tackles including 1.5 tackles for a loss.

A key moment occurred inside two minutes left in the first half when ASU took advantage of a short field, forcing a UAPB punt from their end zone.

After a 15-yard penalty on a personal foul, the Hornets drove 34 yards, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Toppings to freshman Nygel Lee with two seconds left in the half.

Lee just got a foot down on the near side corner of the end zone.