Alabama State's special teams shine in 31-16 win over Alabama A&M

Updated Oct. 28, 2023 8:39 p.m. ET

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Robert McMinn returned a punt 48 yards for a touchdown, Kisean Johnson pulled down a Hail Mary at the end of the first half for a score and James Burgess returned a blocked field goal 53 yards for a touchdown as Alabama State beat Alabama A&M 31-16 on Saturday.

The victory is the third straight for Alabama State, which posted wins over Bethune-Cookman and Jackson State after snapping a string of three straight losses.

The Hornets held Alabama A&M to back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game and McMinn cashed in on the second punt five minutes into the game to take a 7-0 lead. Xavier Lankford answered with a pair of touchdowns, the first on a 1-yard run following an Alabama State fumble and the second on a 39-yard pass to Terrell Gardner with 19 seconds left in the half. After a short kickoff gave the Hornets the ball at their own 39, Damon fired 14 yards to Ja'Won Howell with nine seconds left, they launched a Hail Mary pass to the goal line where Johnson, surrounded by three defenders, came down with the ball for a touchdown as time ran out in the half.

Alabama A&M drove to the Alabama State 30 and Jayden John attempted a 50-yard field goal that was blocked. Burgess scooped up the loose ball and returned it for the score.


Stewart was 17 of 23 for 202 yards and a touchdown and Johnson finished with four catches for 82 yards for Alabama State (4-3, 3-2 SWAC).

Lankford was 22 of 40 for 231 yards and a touchdown with an interception for Alabama A&M (4-4, 2-3). He added 14 carries for 26 yards and a score.


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