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A Classic question: Can ASU’s defense contain AAMU’s offense?

ASU's defense is led by cornerback Irshaad Davis (0) who has a team-high 38 total tackles and two quarterback sacks. (Alabama State University)

By Donald Hunt

Special to the Birmingham Times

The long-standing rivalry between the two legendary Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) may not have a strong impact in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) but it IS the Magic City Classic pitting Alabama A&M and Alabama State University with bragging rights in the conference and the state at stake.

When Alabama A&M faces Alabama State in the 80th annual McDonald’s Magic City Classic on Saturday the fans will have a chance to see whether ASU’s defense can slow one of the best quarterbacks not only in the SWAC, but in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) as well. A&M signal caller Aqeel Glass has put up some huge numbers this season. The kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. at Legion Field.

The Hornets defense is led by cornerback Irshaad Davis, linebackers Nicholas Terry and Jake Howard. Davis is playing some terrific football. He has a team-high 38 total tackles and two quarterback sacks. Terry has recorded 21 total tackles while Howard has chipped in with 19 tackles overall.

But Glass is a handful. The 6-5, 215-pounder, has completed 115-of-261 passes for 2,003 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has the arm strength, size and the ability to play in the National Football League. Glass is the leading passer in the SWAC just head of Jackson State freshman field general Shedeur Sanders who is the conference’s second leading passer.

Glass has been receiving a lot of national attention. However, Glass has some great players who have contributed to Alabama A&M’s (1-3 SWAC, 3-3 overall) high-powered offense that averages 31.8 points a game with wide receiver Odieu Hilaire and running back Gary Quarles.

Hilaire is the second leading receiver in the SWAC. He has 38 receptions for 491 yards and four TDs. Quarles is the league’s second leading rusher. He has gained 574 yards on 123 attempts while scoring five TDs.

Offensively, Alabama State (2-2 SWAC, 3-3 overall) may want to use its ground attack to control the tempo of the game. Hornets running back Ezra Gray can run between the tackles and get to the outside. Alabama State freshman quarterback Myles Crawley could use the rushing attack to set up the passing game.

Gray is the team’s leading rusher. He has 188 yards on 49 carries. Crawley has connected on 30-of-60 passes for 416 yards with five TDs and just one interception.

In the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), Miles College (3-2 SIAC, 4-4 overall) will visit Edward Waters (0-0 SIAC, 3-5 overall) on Saturday. The kickoff is set for 5 p.m.

On offense, Miles has a great running game that features Donte Edwards and Kingston Davis. The running attack has allowed quarterback Claude Newell, III to create opportunities for his wide receivers in the passing game. Newell has thrown the ball well completing 56-of-96 passes for 894 yards with seven TDs and only one interception.

After this game, Miles College will wrap up the regular season with a home game against Tuskegee University on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Speaking of Tuskegee University, the Golden Tigers (2-2 SIAC, 3-5 overall) will host Kentucky State (2-2 SIAC, 4-4 overall) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Tuskegee University will bring a balanced attack into this contest with quarterback Louis Williams, running back Ivonte Patterson and wide receivers Jamaal Pritchett, Jonathan Montrevil and Steven Hodges. Look for Tuskegee University to get the offense moving right away against Kentucky State in this SIAC contest.


SWAC Schedule (Oct. 30, 2021)

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Southern 2 p.m. Houston, Texas

Alabama State at Alabama A&M 2:30 p.m. Birmingham, Al

Jackson State at Mississippi Valley State 3 p.m. Itta Bena, Miss.

Grambling State at Florida A&M 3 p.m. Tallahassee, FL

Alcorn State at Southern 6 p.m. Baton Rouge, La.

SWAC Standings


Conference                           Overall

Jackson State                   4-0                    6-1

Florida A&M                     3-1                    5-2

Alabama State                2-2                     3-3

Alabama A&M                 1-3                     3-3

Mississippi Valley State     1-3                    2-5

Bethune-Cookman           0-5                    0-8



Conference                           Overall

Prairie View A&M            5-0                        6-1

Alcorn State                  4-0                        5-2

Southern                      2-2                       3-4

Grambling State            2-2                       3-4

Texas Southern             1-3                      1—5

Arkansas-Pine Bluff        0-4                      1-6


SIAC Schedule (Oct. 30, 2021)

Columbus St. University at Allen University 2 p.m. Columbia, S.C.

Miles College at Edward Waters 6 p.m. Jacksonville, FL

Lane at Central State 1 p.m. Wilberforce, Ohio

Benedict at Clark Atlanta 2 p.m. Atlanta, Ga.

Savannah State at Fort Valley State 2 p.m. Fort Valley, Ga.

Albany State at Morehouse 2 p.m. Atlanta, Ga.

Kentucky State at Tuskegee University 2 p.m. Tuskegee, AL

SIAC Standings


Conference                                       Overall

Albany State                4-0                               7-1

Savannah State            4-1                               6-2

Fort Valley State           3-1                               5-3

Morehouse                  3-1                                3-5

Clark Atlanta               0-4                                2-6

Benedict                    0-4                                3-5



Conference                                       Overall

Miles College                 3-2                               4-4

Kentucky State              2-2                               4-4

Tuskegee University       2-2                               3-5

Lane                             2-2                              5-3

Central State                 0-4                              1-7

Allen University             0-0                              3-4

Edward Waters              0-0                             3-5


Matchup of the Week

Alabama State at Alabama A&M 2:30 p.m. Birmingham, Al