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HBCU Football: Alabama St. looks to stay unbeaten in tough SWAC East Division

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ASU's Ryan Nettles leads the team's passing attack. He was 23-of-41 for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-24 win over Bethune-Cookman. (Alabama State University)

By Donald Hunt

For The Birmingham Times

Alabama State University will visit Florida A&M on Saturday, Oct. 2 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) matchup that could have an impact for the Hornets in the conference’s East Division. The kickoff is set for 5 p.m.

The Hornets (1-0 SWAC, 2-1 overall) want to keep pace in a division that has Alabama A&M, the No. 1 ranked HBCU team in the country, and Jackson State, both with 1-0 records. Meanwhile, the Rattlers are looking to get rolling.

This is the Rattlers’ (0-1 SWAC, 1-2 overall) first year in the SWAC after coming over from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. FAMU lost to Jackson State, 7-6, three weeks ago.

For ASU, quarterback Ryan Nettles leads the passing attack. He was 23-of-41 for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-24 win over Bethune-Cookman. The Hornets’ signal caller will be in charge of the team’s balanced offense against the Rattlers.

Running back Ezra Gray is averaging 4.5 yards a carry. He can run between the tackles and has the quickness to get outside. Wide receiver Jeremiah Hixon gives Nettles a pass catcher who can help him move the chains on a consistent basis.

On defense, ASU has cornerback Irshaad Davis who is a great all-around player. Davis can make the open field tackles and guard the receivers on the deep pass routes and leads the team in tackles with 18.

This is a big road game for the Hornets. ASU would like to get on a roll in the SWAC.

In other SWAC action on Saturday, Alabama A&M will travel to play Grambling State (0-1 SWAC, 1-3 overall). The kickoff will be at 2 p.m. The undefeated Bulldogs (1-0 SWAC, 3-0 overall) have been moving right along as the nation’s top HBCU football team with the top offense in the SWAC, averaging 39 points a game.

That’s because quarterback Aqeel Glass continues to perform at a high level completing 77-of- 123 passes for 1.065 yards with 10 TDs and just two interceptions. He is the leading passer in the SWAC. Running back Gary Quarles has been providing the Bulldogs with a terrific ground game, leading the conference in rushing with 394 yards on 73 carries while scoring four TDs.

In the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on Saturday, Miles College (1-0 SIAC, 2-2 overall) will host Albany State (1-0 SIAC, 3-1 overall) at 6 p.m. The Golden Bears have won their last two games. Miles College will have some home cooking for the next two weeks. This is the second of three games at home.

Quarterback Claude Newell, III has completed 32-of-54 passes for 531 yards and six TDs. The offense has been aided by a strong running attack. Running back Donte Edwards leads the SIAC in rushing with 416 yards on 68 carries and two TDs.

The Golden Bears hope to keep the momentum going behind their offensive stars Newell and Edwards.

In other SIAC gridiron action, Tuskegee University will entertain Clark Atlanta at 1 p.m.

Tuskegee University (0-0 SIAC, 1-3 overall) opened a lot of eyes with its play in the Gulf Coast Challenge against the powerhouse Alabama A&M football team losing 45-35. The Golden Tigers would like to carry their high scoring talents into this matchup with the Panthers. Clark Atlanta (0-2 SIAC, 1-3 overall) comes into this contest with a three-game losing streak.

Tuskegee University wide receiver Steven Hodges has been making a lot of plays. He had five receptions for 79 yards and one TD against Alabama A&M. With those numbers, the 5-10, 185-pound redshirt senior, went over the 1,000 career receiving yards mark. He currently has 1,029 yards and will be a key player to watch in this contest.

SIAC

SIAC East

SIAC                              Overall

Savannah State      2-0                               3-1

Albany State           1-0                              3-1

Fort Valley State     0-0                              2-2

Benedict                  0-2                              2-2

Clark Atlanta            0-2                              1-3

Morehouse               0-1                              0-4

 

SIAC West

SIAC                         Overall

Miles College             1-0                          2-2

Lane                         1-0                         3-1

Kentucky State          1-0                         2-2

Tuskegee University    0-0                        1-3

Central State              0-1                        1-3

Allen University           0-0                       2-2

Edward Waters             0-0                      1-3

 

SIAC Schedule (Oct. 2, 2021)

Albany State at Miles College 6 p.m. Fairfield, AL

Savannah State at Kentucky State 1 p.m. Frankfort, KY

Allen University at Central State 1 p.m. Wilberforce, Ohio

Clark Atlanta at Tuskegee University 1 p.m. Tuskegee, AL

Edward Waters at Morehouse 3 p.m. Atlanta, Ga.

Fort Valley State at Benedict 3 p.m. Columbia, SC

Texas College at Lane 3 p.m. Jackson, TN

 

SWAC

SWAC East

SWAC                         Overall

Alabama A&M                    1-0                              3-0

Jackson State                     1-0                            3-1

Alabama State                    1-0                            2-1

Mississippi Valley St.          0-0                              0-2

Florida A&M                      0-1                               1-2

Bethune-Cookman             0-2                             0-4

 

SWAC West

Prairie View A&M                2-0                             3-1

Alcorn State                      1-0                              2-2

Southern                          0-0                              1-2

Arkansas-Pine Bluff            0-1                             1-2

Grambling State                 0-1                            1-3

Texas Southern                   0-1                            0-3

 

SWAC Schedule (Oct. 2, 2021)

Bethune-Cookman at So. Carolina St. 12:30 p.m. Orangeburg, SC

North American U. at Texas Southern 2 p.m. Houston, Texas

Alabama A&M at Grambling State 2 p.m. Grambling, La.

N.C. Central at Mississippi Valley St. 3 p.m. Itta Bena, Miss.

Alabama State at Florida A&M 5 p.m. Tallahassee, FL

 

Game of the Week

Albany State at Miles College 6 p.m. Fairfield, AL