Hornets’ comeback falls short

Published 1:58 am Sunday, September 6, 2009

Concordia College football coach Shepherd Skanes felt the pain Saturday night.

Not the pain of losing 38-33 to Alabama State University in the Cramton Bowl.

The pain of not winning, however, cut to the quick.

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“As hard as we played tonight, it hurts,” said Skanes, whose Hornets dropped to 1-1 with the narrow defeat. “We were supposed to win.”

Skanes had problems with the amount of penalties and the officiating difficulties the Hornets suffered during the game. After having to deal with nine penalties for 74 yards in the first half, Concordia had to call attention to the time clock, which was running after an incomplete pass.

“I know (the officials) did what they had to do, what they were supposed to do,” he said. “But it’s not supposed to be that way.”

Concordia pulled within three scores to open the fourth quarter when quarterback T’Chelpio Woods hit Calvin Cornish for a 19-yard TD pass with 9:22 to play. ASU led 38-27.

With 5:42 to play, Concordia tried to retake the momentum, but a fourth-and-13 pass at the Alabama State fell 5 yards short. The defense held ASU, and Concordia took over at its own 35.

On the next play, Woods lofted a 65-yard pass-and-run to Morris Benton down the right sideline to pull within one touchdown at 38-33. On the clock was 2:48 remaining in the game.

On the kickoff, Concordia’s Timmy Jackson recovered the ensuing fumble at Alabama State’s 37-yard line. The Hornets — 13-point underdogs — were poised for the upset.

After gaining the first down to the ASU 32, however, Concordia couldn’t convert the fourth-and-9 at the Alabama State 26-yard line.

Alabama State got the ball with a minute to play and ran out the clock for its season-opening victory.

Alabama State third-year coach Reggie Barlow said he was not surprised with Concordia’s tenacity.

“We did not have any expectations to blow this team out,” Barlow said. “We had seen the way they handled Texas College (68-0) last week on tape.”

Barlow said his team’s problem was internal.

“We had to fight against complacency,” he said. “And if we made a mistake, it just got worse.”

ASU linebacker Adrian Hardy, a 2006 Selma High graduate, said he was not suprised by Concordia’s play.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “They are going to fight; they’ve got good players.”

Hardy, who said he played with Woods while the Concordia quarterback played two years at ASU, blamed his team’s second-half letdown to complacency.

“We sat on our heels a little late in the game,” he said.

Alabama State’s pass-and-catch combo of Chris Mitchell to Nick Andrews was the offensive weapon that killed Concordia College.

Mitchell threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, with two to Andrews. The 72-yard fade route to Andrews in the third quarter was the game-winner. The points came with 2:00 left on the clock n the third stanza.

“That was the play that really hurt us,” Skanes said after Concordia had mounted a 12-play, 77-yard drive to pull within 31-14. The Andrews catch put ASU ahead by at least three touchdowns.

Alabama State had the advantage in first-half rushing, outgaining Concordia 97-31 yards. The host Hornets carried the ball nine more times, 21-12.

Passing stats were almost identical in the first half, with Concordia’s Woods completing 7-of-18 attempts with two interceptions for 102 yards. Alabama State had 149 yards through the air, however, with Mitchell connecting on 9-of-18 aerials with one pickoff.

The interception by Concordia College’s Miguel Terrell was his second in two games. He picked off five passes last season.

In the first half, Skanes had to contend with “dirty laundry” again, as the Hornets from Selma were flagged with nine infractions for 74 yards. Alabama State was tagged only twice for 20 yards.

Concordia got on the scoreboard first — yes, the Hornets of Selma scored first — when Woods hit Benton for an 18-yard TD and Benton dived for the front left of the end zone for the six points.

“That was beautiful,” Skanes said. “Woods had checked off and threw to Benton. He made the rest of the play on his own.”

Harrison Ellison’s kick was wide and Concordia led 6-0 at the 10:50 mark.

Alabama State, however, scored 24 unanswered points for the 24-6 halftime lead.