By Donald Hunt
Special to The Birmingham Times
It was a great weekend of football for Alabama State and Alabama Agriculture & Mechanical Universities as both came away with season opening victories. ASU edged Tuskegee, 26-20 in overtime to win the Labor Day Classic and AAMU crushed Miles College, 37-0, to capture the Louis Crews Classic.
Alabama State (1-0) will have its work cut out this weekend against ninth ranked Auburn University which is coming off an impressive 21-16 victory over No. 6 Washington. The visiting Hornets will need a big effort in their matchup with the Tigers from the Southeastern Conference. The kickoff will be at 6:30 p.m.
Alabama State running back and return specialist Ezra Gray was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Specialist of the Week. Gray returned three kickoffs for 118 yards, averaging 39.3 yards a return. The Hornets’ junior also had 11 carries for 66 yards, which included a 30-yard touchdown run against the Golden Tigers.
Tuskegee (0-1) will face Albany State University (0-1) on Saturday, Sept. 8 in the Whitewater Classic in Phenix City, Al. The kickoff is set for 4 p.m. The Golden Tigers will lean on quarterback Jamarcus Ezell to get the offense in high gear. Ezell connected on 13-of-19 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against Alabama State.
Alabama A&M’s (1-0) new head coach Connell Maynor had a successful debut with the win over Miles College. Maynor received contributions from several players including quarterback Aqeel Glass who completed 11-of-18 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. He also had three carries for 40 yards.
Running backs Gary Quarles and Jordan Bentley provided a steady ground attack. Quarles had seven carries for 51 yards and one touchdown; Bentley eight carries for 45 yards and one TD. Wide receiver Octayvious Miles had a big day catching three passes for 66 yards and one TD.
Defensively, linebacker Yurik Bethune put together six total tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries. He was named the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week.
A&M will host the University of North Alabama (1-0) on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Louis Crews Stadium in Huntsville. The kickoff will be at 6 p.m.
Miles College lost on the road to West Alabama, 37-21, on Thursday night despite a valiant effort from wide receiver Leonard Tyree who had 8 catches for 125 yards and 2 TDs. Quarterback Daniel Smith completed 24 of 43 passes for 278 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs for the Golden Bears who next play host to Fort Valley State on Sat. Sept. 15.