Reeling in the Magic City Classic’s special moments

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ( – Fond recollections of past Magic City Classics between Alabama State and Alabama A&M were reminisced with stories at the podium during Friday’s luncheon held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

Speakers could remember when teams all packed onto one bus to travel before interstate 65 existed and the trip from Huntsville to Birmingham took several hours instead of just a little more than one hour.

Others talked about sterling second half comebacks by Alabama State when it appeared Alabama A&M had it wrapped up including one in which State trailed 21-0 at halftime only to win 27-21.

On oversized monitors, highlights displayed clips of past MCC’s with bone-crushing hits, athletic jukes and game-breaking touchdowns.

Saturday will mark the 75th annual edition of the McDonald’s Magic City Classic presented by Coca Cola at Birmingham’s Legion Field.

With kickoff set for 3 p.m. and now less than 24 hours away, it left both Hornets head football coach Brian Jenkins and Bulldogs head coach James Spader in an eager mood.

“It’s about that time,” said Alabama State head football coach Brian Jenkins.

“I don’t know about James [Spader] and his team, but we are ready. And, it’s going to go down.”

Spader expressed a similar sentiment saying that nothing he could say at the podium is going to change what happens tomorrow on the field and it’s time to play.

The game, shown by ESPNU and broadcasted by the Hornet Sports Radio Network, will be the 80th all-time meeting between the schools with the Hornets holding a slim 40-36-3 advantage.

ASU has won three of the previous four meetings including last season’s 35-20 victory headlined by strong performances by running back Khalid Thomas (20 carries, 100 yards, TD) and tight end Brandon Barnes (two receptions, 88 yards, TD).

This season’s match up with feature the top two rushing attacks in the SWAC with Alabama State leading the conference in rushing yards per game (195.0 per contest) and Alabama A&M ranking second with 185.0 rushing yards per game.

Thomas leads the fleet of rushers for the Hornets, averaging 97.1 yards per game on the ground and 6.6 yards per carry with seven total touchdowns.

The senior from Tallahassee, Fla. native become the seventh Hornet in history to rush for at least 2,000 career yards. He has 2,193 yards and needs 170 more to pass Keldrick Williams (2003-2005) to reach fifth all-time in rushing yards.

The Bulldogs are led by Jordan Bentley (98 carries, 576 yards, 7 TDs) and quarterback De’Angelo Ballard (106 carries, 437 yards, 6 TDs).

Both teams share an identical 2-5 overall record and are 2-4 in the SWAC.

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