Albany State gets key win over Savannah State to keep East Division title hopes alive

Albany State bounced back from their 24-20 defeat at the hands of Benedict at homecoming last week with a 31-20 defeat of Savannah State on Saturday.

Deep in their own territory, Savannah State did themselves no favors by fumbling at their own 1-yard line, which was recovered by Stephan Pierre. JaQuez Williams’ punched it in two plays later to put Albany State up 7-0. Savannah State tied the game in the second quarter, completing a 7-play, 60-yard drive when quarterback JT Hartage connected with DeMarion Colbert on a 43-yard scoring strike to square the contest at 7 apiece.

Joe’Vontae Shorter’s 45-yard return of the subsequent kickoff set the Golden Rams up at the Tigers’ 48 yard-line. Seven plays later a 24-yard Gilbert Brown field goal gave Albany State back the lead at 10-7, where the score would be heading into halftime.

Joe’Vontae Shorter’s fumble of the second half kickoff, which was recovered by SSU’s Elijah Norwood, wiped away a 37-yard return and set the Tigers up the Golden Rams’ 40-yard line. The Albany State defense stood tough, forcing a three-and-out to give the ball to the ASU offense. Jhaydon Sullivan, in at quarterback for the injured Dionte Bonneau, threw the first of his two touchdown passes of the afternoon, this one a 14-yard toss to Rashad Jordan to extend the Rams’ advantage to 17-7.

Savannah State’s special team struck the next blow for the Tigers when Jordan Clark got the trifecta of a punt block, recovery and ran it in 50-yards for a touchdown. The subsequent PAT failed, leaving the score 17-14.

Sullivan’s second touchdown of the game, a 5-yard pass to,Rashad Jordan pushed the Rams’ lead to 23-13, as it was Albany State’s turn to experience kicking issues with Eli Mashburn missing the PAT.

The Tigers responded with an 8-play, 75 yard drive that pulled them within three at 23-20 with 4:09 left in the game when JT Hartage found paydirt from 3-yards out.

Savannah State’s defense forced a punt on Albany State’s next possession, giving the ball back to their offense with 1:43 left in the game with the chance to tie or win the contest. Those jooesmwere dashed when Hartage fumbled. ASU’S, Malik Barnes recovered and returned it 7-yards for a touchdown, pushing the score to what would be its final mark of 31-20.

The win improves Albany State to 6-2 and 4-1 in the SIAC’s Eastern Division, one game behind undefeated Benedict.

Jhaydon Sullivan, substituting for the injured Bonneau, completed 15 of his 20 passes for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. JaQuez Williams helped Sullivan by leading the Albany State run game with 153 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Up next for Albany State is playing host to Morehouse next week; kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 PM EST. Savannah State will look to bounce back in the Central City Classic in Macon, GA against Fort Valley State.

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